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Are Facebook’s Customers Leaving For Real?




Now that Lebron James has fallen, who is the world going to turn to vilify? Well, if the information that was given by the Business Insider is correct it could be that another one of the mighty is beginning to show some wear and tear. That entity would be Facebook.

Business Insider’s SAI reports that Facebook is actually losing users in the countries where its meteoric rise to importance began.

Something strange is going on: Facebook is losing customers.

Lots of customers. According to Inside Facebook’s data service, Facebook lost 6 million users in the U.S. last month, dropping from 155.2 million to 149.4 million. That’s the first time U.S. numbers have dropped in more than a year.

It also lost 1.52 million users in Canada, dropping to 16.6 million — that’s an 8% drop — and 100,000 each in the U.K., Norway, and Russia.

Calling that the end is near for Facebook is very premature at this point. Let’s first consider that even with these drops somewhere around half of the entire populations of the US and Canada has a Facebook account. That’s still impressive.

A more important metric for Facebook is the same one that advertisers need to be looking at before they consider the social network for marketing efforts. How many of those accounts are active and real? It’s less of an issue for Facebook than it is for Twitter but all of the talk of total number of accounts in a social network is starting to sound like TV’s old mantra of how many households they reach. It’s an empty number that anyone who is doing even a little thinking will see as hype and not truly important.

In SAI’s usual fashion there were suggestions of doom for Facebook and the concern that growth had stopped unless they get into China etc etc. Sure that’s interesting on some level but it’s mere conjecture. The possibility of burn out on the service is considered as well and I can tell you that for me personally that is happening. I can’t pinpoint exactly what is happening but I can say that my interest in the service and what it provides has reached its limits. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still helpful but if I don’t get to it for a few days I have never felt like I missed anything.

So how are seeing Facebook these days? Is it what it used to be? If there is this leveling off of sorts happening in English language markets does that make you rethink how marketing dollars are applied?

Let us know what you think in the comments. It’s Monday so you need to get the creative juices flowing. What better way than popping off on the service that people can’t seem to live without but still love to hate.

  • http://www.prodentite.com Chris

    Hi Frank,

    I gotta agree- my view of Facebook has changed in the last few months. I was one to post updates, pics, and always comment. Now I’ve removed almost all pictures, deleted all comments on my wall (since I joined in mid 08), and I’ve jacked up my privacy settings.

    I guess the main reason I’m still on FB is to watch the constant train wrecks of people airing their dirty laundry ;-)

  • http://www.seoconsult.com Rory Truesdale

    Hi Frank,

    Really enjoyed your article and completely agree with the points you made. I’m based in the UK, so my interpretation might be slightly different to that of North American users.

    I think one thing that is certainly harming Facebook (and probably causing them to loose users) is concerns over privacy. There was a fiasco recently when large numbers of UK users were angry at Facebook for making users have to opt out of their ‘Tag Suggestion’ tool, which uses facial recognition software. It seems a bit of a theme that users have to opt out of privacy settings that leaves their personal data open as supposed to opting in. While it is far too early to say Facebook is on the decline, I certainly believe with the amount of social-media start occurring in the US, it’s only a matter of time before one of them exploits the privacy concerns that Facebook users have and wins users that way.

    Do you agree that in North America users of FB are facing the same concerns? Do you think they will continue to lose users, and do you think it will potentially cost them revenue?

    Thanks,

    Rory – Technical SEO blogger.

    • James Anderson

      Good God, when did everyone begin spelling lose as “loose”?

  • http://www.orbitalalliance.com Simon Yohe

    Facebook provides a lot of great features and is an incredible tool in staying-in-touch with friends, but like any product/service, as it reaches the top of its industry, it becomes harder and harder to stay on top…. also, the ever-increasing presence of business and finding ways to make money on a daily basis off facebook can leave a sour note in consumers mouths. The concerns of data-sharing/accessibility also have people more worried about their personal privacy.

  • http://xhibitswebdesign.com Souleye Cisse

    though it’s an interesting article, whenever facebook is mentioned… yawn. going over my tweets I realized that I tweeted that twitter is the new facebook. it was in june. I predict facebook will have the same fate as myspace. twitter I don’t know yet. we’ll see in 5 years. that’s how american people are. they fall head over heels over something then after a while, fatigue. people start looking for the next big thing. that’s what happens to people who’re used to having too many choices. when you say at the end of the article that ‘facebook no one can live without…’, then I’m ‘no one’. I canceled my acount a year ago and I’m not missing a beat. I’m very active on linkedin and find myself very productive there. twitter is ok. for marketing, I think itt’s better than facebook. one important fact is that twitter is becoming the new ‘voice of america’. I don’t know how it’s gonna last.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    I have never been much of a Facebook user. I don’t like the interface, the privacy management is a nightmare, and it just doesn’t appeal to me in any way. Nonetheless, thanks to my friends both inside and outside work I found myself managing 2 Facebook accounts for a while. One of them has now vanished, no doubt due to Facebook’s much publicized house cleaning.

    I suspect a lot of this traffic dropping is due to Facebook’s attempts to get rid of the sock puppets and other undesirable accounts.

  • http://twitter.com/genemarks Gene Marks

    Yeah, I have to agree with Chris – it seems Facebook is mostly for watching other people make fools of themselves these days, or for politicians to get themselves in trouble haha. :-)

    Gene Marks
    http://www.twitter.com/genemarks

  • John H

    To answer the question you posed Frank “If there is this leveling off of sorts happening in English language markets does that make you rethink how marketing dollars are applied?”

    I think marketers will continue to use FB as long as CPA’s and targets are being met. The potential client base supplied by FB is way too big to ignore and any marketers who would reassess their investment based on some recent numbers suggesting a decline are stupid. I think as long as FB keeps innovating to keep users interest and attract new users there will be companies willing to spend money with them. I think the issue which is stopping most marketers expanding their FB advertising accounts at the moment is the lack of information and assistance through client services provided by FB. As an advertiser with FB I think they should be focusing on this area of their business model.

    • http://www.localbasix.com Frank Reed

      Sounds a bit like Google’s model. FB has become so big that they may actually save money and not provide great support because they know they are the best option for advertisers. That would be a huge mistake but it seems to be one that companies in the Internet space are willing to make for the time being.

  • Cynthia Boris

    Facebook is changing everyday and not always for the better. I myself, and a lot of people I know have become increasingly disillusioned with the site and I’m not sure why. Too much hype maybe? I do know that I’m tired of having to reorient myself everytime I hit a page. It’s impossible to find what I want quickly and that’s annoying.

    From a marketing standpoint, I’ve seen huge drop-offs in commenting, some of which I believe is due to that shift in the wall defaults where you see the people you communicate with most over everyone you follow.

    I don’t think the end is near for Facebook, but they may need to rethink where they’re going and who the audience is they’re aiming for.

  • John Thomas

    Often, just as one gets their facebook “lifestyle” established they come to realize they are sharing too much information. And the subsequent pullback, like most pendulum swings, goes too far the other way.

  • http://www.clickexperts.co.uk/ Neil McKenzie

    I think Facebook is a place where the people can find many things of their know and unknown person and can able to know new things regarding their interest.