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

By Robert Castley

The social network homepages were more reliable in October than they were in September, with only one site now falling below the 99 percent ideal average successful load rate minimum. However, at the most reliable end of the table, the number of sites achieving a successful load rate of 99.9 percent or above fell, with only two sites achieving such a high level of reliability in October, compared to four in September. In terms of speed, the sites as a whole were marginally slower this month, taking on average 0.06 longer to load in October than they did in September. On a more positive note, however, seven out of the 11 sites in October did keep below the recommended two seconds limit to load on average, which was one more site than in September.


This month, Friends Reunited and Bebo continued to demonstrate major changes in their overall performances, with Friends Reunited performing consistently worse and Bebo performing better. The Bebo homepage was 0.05 seconds faster in October than September and was also more reliable, achieving a successful load rate of 99.82 percent in October compared to 99.74 percent the previous month. The Friends Reunited homepage performance also continued to worsen in October and saw the biggest increase in average load time – taking nearly seven seconds (6.94s) to load in October, compared to 6.12 seconds in September. The slower speed is most likely due to, as it has been in previous months, an increased number of objects on the homepage – which rose to 193, and a larger page size – which rose to 2.20 MB.

A significant change in homepage performance, from September to October, was also seen by Wayn, which loaded in 1.43 seconds on average in October, compared to 2.12 seconds in September. This was an impressive turnaround and moved it up a place in the social media index table in terms of speed. The improvements seen by Wayn are accompanied by a significant drop in the number of objects on the page from September to October – from 58 to 39, and in page size – from 0.71 MB to 0.52 MB, showing the impact of streamlining a homepage to achieve better performance. Other shifts in performance included YouTube, which slowed by 0.32 seconds in October, possibly due to a larger page size which increased from 0.36 MB in September to 0.41 MB in October. As well as LinkedIn, which slowed by 0.22 seconds on average in October, also possibly resulting from a larger page size, growing from 0.24 MB in September to 0.44 MB in October.

It’s great to see more of the social media homepages passing the 99 percent reliability target and loading in less than the two second recommended maximum. Social media was built on the idea that it’s timely and instant, if a user can’t log in to start a conversation – because the homepage is being unresponsive, has errors or is too slow – an alternative platform is likely to be used. This is particularly important when students are flooding back to university. Whether it’s to keep in contact with friends and family or to organise nights out, social media is becoming the ‘go-to’ method of communication, and performance will be a key factor when students are deciding which platform suits them best.

About the author and the company

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.

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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