Facebook grabs most attention among social sites

No social network comes close to Facebook when it comes to total time spent online, says a white paper from ComScore. Meanwhile, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram herald the rise of "the visual Web."

Jennifer Van Grove Former Senior Writer / News
Jennifer Van Grove covered the social beat for CNET. She loves Boo the dog, CrossFit, and eating vegan. Her jokes are often in poor taste, but her articles are not.
Jennifer Van Grove
2 min read
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The U.S. population is enamored with Facebook. The social network ranked as the top Web destination in December 2012, with a 10.8 percent share of total time spent online during the month, according to analytics firm ComScore.

ComScore, which today published a white paper on digital trends, found that while Google sites commanded the largest audience in December, 191.4 million people in the U.S. to be exact, Facebook continues to demand the most attention.

In addition to edging out Google properties, which collectively managed to garner 10 percent of time online, Facebook also accounted for 5 out of every 6 minutes spent on social sites, or 83 percent of time spent online on social-networking sites.

Share of time spent on social-networking sites in the U.S., December 2012 ComScore Media Metrix

No other social property even comes close to attracting the same amount of attention as Facebook. No. 2 Tumblr barely racked up 6 percent of time on social-networking sites, and Pinterest and Twitter each accounted for less than 2 percent of online social attention in December. Keep in mind, though, that ComScore's numbers are desktop-only and don't take into account time or traffic in mobile applications.

For the Facebook haters out there -- and based on our comments section, we know there are several -- the more fascinating narrative is about the brewing battle between Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram. As the graph depicts, the three properties all significantly grew their unique audiences in the U.S. between December 2011 and December 2012, though each is now seeing nearly the same amount of Web visitors. This makes for an interesting trend that ComScore calls "the rise of the visual Web" because each of the rising properties are image-centric.

Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram: Total unique visitor trend, December 2011 to December 2012 ComScore Media Metrix
Tumblr is the leader of this social brat pack, with 30.8 million U.S. visitors in December, up 64 percent from the previous year. Pinterest and the Facebook-owned Instagram both grew by 284 percent from last December, though the pinning property slightly beat its photo-sharing rival on the Web with 28.9 million visitors to Instagram's 27.4 million people, according to ComScore.