“Facebook has lost nearly 9m monthly visitors in the US and 2m in the UK.” That’s from an article in Sunday’s edition of The Guardian. The author pulled the number from Socialbakers and goes on to say that Facebook numbers are dropping in several other countries including Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Japan.
Maybe and maybe not.
Socialbakers, the source of the data, posted a counter argument today saying that the article in The Guardian is wrong.
We state, quite clearly, on our site that these figures are rough estimates and cannot be used to determine Facebook traffic. Again, we explained this to The Guardian when they published a similar story some months ago.
To other journalists out there, the same thing applies to the UK and US Facebook stats as it did three months ago:
- Around 50% of the UK’s entire population is on Facebook – which is amazing!
- About 15% of people in the UK are under 13 years old therefore “not allowed” on Facebook
- 16.5% of people in the UK are older than 65 and typically not on Facebook (only 4% of 65+ year olds out of the 33M are on Facebook in UK)
The bottom line here is that there is no story.
Maybe, and maybe not.
Clearly, we’re all not as enamored with Facebook as we used to be. CNET makes a great case for teens tuning out and turning to Instagram as their preferred social network. Facebook isn’t cool anymore. It’s where parents and grandparents hang out to swap photos, funny cat memes and play games. Teens are always going to run away when the crowd shows up. They’ll find a new place to play or they’ll create their own social network. Facebook can continue to chase them by buying up sites such as Instagram, but if they get too hands on, they’ll just drive away the audience they were hoping to attract.
It seems to me that Facebook would be better off cultivating a place where people can come in as twenty-somethings and stay on until their final days, documenting their life and collecting followers in the same way we used to collect names in an address book. There have been times when it felt like Facebook was moving in that direction — a virtual scrapbook of life. Then they stray from that path and it turns into a mish-mosh of features — trying to be everything to everybody.
Without any numbers to back this up, I’d say Facebook has reached its popularity peak. They’ll gain new users and lose users, but it’s not likely that they’ll ever see the kind of growth in the US they’ve seen in the past. The majority of folks in the US who are going to sign up for Facebook have already signed up. That means they have to grow internationally if they want to see their numbers climb substantially.
We’re a fickle lot. We like things that are new and different. Sure, we resist change at first, but we also bore easily. We open the microwave early rather than wait for the last two seconds to click down. We record to the DVR so we can skip the commercials. We multitask because one thing isn’t enough to keep our brains occupied during every millisecond of our life.
Has Facebook peaked in popularity? You bet it has and I don’t need statistics to know it’s true.