I was asked five times by marketeers at a conference yesterday: “… but isn’t it the beginning of the end of Facebook”. Well, yes if you believe the red-top headlines – “The Sun says….”. But, really all this newspaper hype about Facebook allegedly being in decline is a load of baloni and I can’t believe how many marketeers (with social media in their job title) are swallowing it without ever checking out the full stats.
What we have seen is a slight dip in North America and UK during May, within incredibly saturated markets for Facebook, not “major traffic drops”. This is simply a natural falling away, allowing the UK and NA user-bases to settle around those that actually wish to be using the site, rather than those that simply signed up out of curiosity or were not fated to spend much of their waking lives checking-out status updates. Good on them.
Let’s put this in perspective for these early adopting countries, Facebook has approximately 70% of the population as users! Taking this into account, losing a couple of million is not of massive significance, if you believe as I do that it is not the start of a trend of exodus, simply a specific focussed sieving off, and that Facebook will easily reach its worldwide target to gain 1 billion users.
Facebook is growing hand-over-fist in emerging markets (who are actually more engaged than North American or Western European users) and generally growing fast amongst older age groups (who have cash to hand ready to spend in future ecommerce platforms within Facebook!).
Yes, there is the element of “I don’t want to be on the same SN as my mum or dad!”, but if Facebook keep innovating around user behaviour based insights – unlike MySpace which mothballed for too long- they can overcome this factor. Facebook are not the new MySpace.
And the quirky fact of the day:
The greatest Facebook penetration is in the Philipines with 93% of online population
So should marketeers be concerned re the potential for a “Facebook decline”? Not right now, but always best to keep an eye on all the social networks out there and decide which ones to invest time or money in, based on the specifics of audience you are looking to interact with, not on what is or isn’t the most well-known social network. What may be right for Skittles may not be right for Whiskers cat food for instance.
More importantly, will Google+ start eating into Facebook’s userbase. It seems to have the capability to, but I think those who adopt Google+ as a favoured social network will still use Facebook; and let’s face it there is still a lot more to come from Facebook A LOT more.