Performance of social networking sites – Index from Keynote Systems for September 2013

By Robert Castley

On average, the social media site homepages performed marginally worse in September than they did in August. Only nine out of the 11 sites secured a successful load rate of above 99 percent in September, compared to ten in August, and only six of the sites achieved the ideal loading time of less than two seconds in September, compared to seven in August. Reliability also suffered and the overall average successful load rate was 99.4 percent in September, compared to 99.52 percent in August. On a more positive note, the average overall speed of the site homepages was slightly quicker in September than it was in August, achieving a 2.2 second load time this month, compared to 2.29 seconds in August, with two of the sites dipping below the one second load time, Google+ and YouTube UK.


Social media sites of particular interest this month include Bebo and Friends Reunited. Both saw significant changes to their homepage performance from July to August – Bebo vastly improving its load time and Friends Reunited suffered a significant slowdown. We were keen to find out if this was due to a one-off change for the month, or if it was something more permanent. Unfortunately for Friends Reunited, but promisingly for Bebo, both these performance trends seem to have continued into September. For Friends Reunited, the slow load time – now at 6.12 seconds – puts it last in the table and will be frustrating to its visitors having to wait so long for the site to load. Bebo, on the other hand, has built on its success in August – when it shaved nearly five seconds off its average load time – by reducing its response time again to 3.54 seconds. Bebo’s homepage performance improvements are most likely due to the further decrease in the number of objects on its homepage – from 67 to 31, and in its page size – from 1.06 MB to 0.76 MB.

Other changes in performance this month included the Twitter homepage, which decreased its average response time from 1.49 seconds in August, to 1.13 seconds in September. It also offered a more reliable service to visitors, with an average successful load rate of 99.91 percent in September, compared to 99.77 percent in August. Flickr, on the other hand, performed less well in September than it did in August. The homepage loaded in 2.39 seconds on average this month, compared to 2.23 seconds in August. Its reliability also suffered, falling from 99.63 percent in August to 98.65 percent in September.

The social media homepages performance this month was a tale of two halves, while the most improved performer from the August index, Bebo, continued to make vast improvements and is now climbing up the index, most other sites performed fairly consistently with previous months. For some of the social media homepages this is good news, the likes of Google+ and You Tube UK are continuing to offer customers a speedy service and a reliable page, but for others like Friends United and Hi5, speed to load continues to stay well above the two second recommended maximum and reliability isn’t improving either. As we move into the months when popular TV programmes – such as X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing – start to generate debate on social media platforms, these homepages must be functioning well to support and encourage viewer conversations, rather than being a hurdle to them.

About the author

Robert Castley has been a solutions consultant at internet testing and monitoring specialist Keynote, for over three years. Prior to working at Keynote, Robert worked as a Professional Services Consultant at a document management company, Macro 4, where he worked on developing custom web interfaces. He regularly engages with customers and has an in-depth technical knowledge in web development. One of his proudest achievements is developing one of the world’s most popular Open Source Content Management Systems to the masses – Mambo, which now lives on as Joomla!

Robert is an authoritative spokesperson on web performance and regularly participates in industry events on the topic. Robert is passionate about the need to provide the optimum experience for internet users, irrelevant of the device they are using. He advocates a ‘three screen approach’ that provides a consistent experience whether a website is being accessed via mobile, tablet or desktop computer.

About the company

Keynote Systems is the global leader in Internet and mobile cloud monitoring. It provides companies with solutions for continuously improving the online experience. Founded in 1995, Keynote provides testing, monitoring and measurement products and services for any enterprise including online portals, e-commerce sites, B2B sites, mobile operators and mobile infrastructure providers. Keynote products and services help companies improve customer experience in four areas: Web performance, mobile quality, streaming and real user experience testing.

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