How many times a day do you update your Twitter status, upload a photo to Facebook, or connect with a new contact on LinkedIn?
According to Forrester, 59 percent of all U.S. Internet users now use social networks, and 70 percent consume content on social media and social networking sites. And Nielsen data indicates that people are spending nearly five-and-a-half hours per month on social networking sites.
Overnight these tools have become our lifeline to the world, delivering real-time updates on news and events and connecting us with former classmates, colleagues, celebrities, and total strangers. As more people come to rely on social networking websites, performance can suffer.
Today, we're releasing the Q2 Web Performance Index for Social Networks. For the past 90 days, we monitored the availability and response times of Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, MySpace, and Twitter. Which performed the best?
MySpace bounced back from a terrible first quarter and improved its availability by over 13 percent. The result was a nearly impeccable 99.98 percent availability. Only four errors were recorded in 20,450 attempts to access the site during the three-month period, sending the network straight to the top of the leaderboard.
Based on response times, Facebook (which, any day now will reach the 500 million user mark) takes top honors for the second consecutive quarter. On average, users had to wait only 1.02 seconds for the site to load. LinkedIn came in a close second, with an average response time of 1.28 seconds. Both times represented improvements over the first quarter.
Twitter found itself on the bottom of both lists, delivering the longest average response time and the lowest availability throughout the quarter. Performance dropped significantly compared to Q1. The time it took the website to load nearly doubled, and availability slipped nearly half a percent.
During Q2 we witnessed a worldwide Internet event -- the World Cup -- which began on June 11 and carried through into the current month. In preparation for the event, Twitter created a special section on its site to highlight the key matches, promote special hash tags to show team allegiance, and offer special new backgrounds to decorate profiles with. However, the site was ill-equipped for the volume of traffic it would receive.
The World Cup was responsible for the site's largest period of sustained activity in its history. During the final 15 minutes of the championship game, there were more than 2,000 tweets per second, and 3,051 tweets per second when Spain scored the winning goal.
The result of this high traffic was outages and a lot of fail whale sightings.
Twitter's experience demonstrates the effect worldwide events such as the World Cup can have on a website, particularly when it has not prepared in advance. As demand for real-time information increases, consumer expectations for the time it should take a website to load follow suit. The performance of social sites must scale to meet these demands.