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Does Facebook's loss of users signal a shift in social media?

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As everyone must know by now, Facebook lost more than 5% of its users in the U.S. last month, and if you haven't heard, here's an article at Computerworld.  So do you think this was a momentary correction, or does it signal an underlying shift in social media?

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  • It's Facebook fatigue. The novelty is wearing off. I've noticed that the activity of the core 50 or so people I follow on Twitter has dropped off lately. Others I've talked to noticed the same thing. But, they haven't closed their accounts. I can understand why someone would slow down or even cease their activity on Facebook, but deactivating their account is more extreme. I don't have the answer, but if I were to speculate, I would guess it's continuing concern over Facebook's lack of respect for people's privacy, especially when using something that is so intimate and personal.

  • This has been a major concern I have posed in the past regarding social media-it's not mission-critical IT, it's pop culture. Like the pet rock, chia pet and disco, having a Facebook account was tantamount to being hip. When FB was the main game in town, it got all the attention and it trained a whole community of users how to collaborate and communicate in cyberspace. But, that skill is now seeking more advanced alternatives and specialized avenues of interest. Traffic will most likely continue to drop unless FB starts to acquire some of these new sites, like FourSquare and incorporate specialized services into its offering.

  • I agree. There is a major fad element to social media, and that is starting to wane. I noticed it first with Twitter even last year, but Facebook has more problems with putting too much personal info out there even if you try to employ the privacy options. Then there are even the extreme examples of it causing people major problems like the British juror tampering case that just came out yesterday.

    Social media won't die out. This trend just means that the percentage of the population that values the social connections over the risk related to personal information being public has peaked.

  • I think it might say something about the "fad" nature of consumer internet behavior. Every new technology which gets to the mainstream experiences rapid adoption, a plateau and then decline. Consumers are always on the lookout for exciting new technologies, and tend to follow the pack, but eventually tire, and renew their search for new technologies. I have seen it happen with Yahoo messenger, myspace, and orkut. It is not really a rule set in stone, but it seems to be the general pattern. I didn't think that FaceBook's time would come so soon, but who knows, it may be early signs.

    Pankaj
    http://www.hyperoffice.com

  • Social Media are a novelty and after some time people realize its implications or they get bored. But Social is a key trend in communication and it will continue in different albeit more private forms. The Mobile-App-Cloud will be the carrier of that communication.

    Just like in BPM people will be looking to use Social for something productive and not just arbitrary chat. They want to move on from talking about it to doing it. Enable people to do this socially and eBay is not a bad example of that and it will bring on a lot of change. In business the productive use of social is still ahead. Enterprise 2.0 in Europe has a less than ten percept adoption rate. People don't see it as productive. Company politics play another part. Sharing information freely is not common within large enterprises.

    We need to empower all levels of the business with Social-like empowerment to create and execute and adapt in a manner that is desirable (i.e. via tablet PCs) and then the power of Social might be realized.

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    Social media is not any different from any other technology, They all have adoption cycles that trend high after an adoption phase and then come lower and reach steady state and be there till some other better technology comes along. Was the case with Network databases, relational databases, programming languages - Pascal, C, C++, Java, Ruby On Rails, etc. We just see social media differently because of the size of the adopters (hundreds of millions of people) and the consumer facing angle.

    When they reach steady state, the gawkers have moved on and ALL social media have only 50% or so of initial registrants coming in and using it a second or third time anyway! There will be a core group of users that will use them consistently (till facebook replaced myspace which beat Friendster before that - till something else better comes along).

    But with facebook, the sheer number of users are so large that 5% drop will still leave humongous numbers of users!

  • Good comments by all. In general I agree with one exception.

    Is the fad Social Media or is the fad really facebook, twitter, etc.?

    Social media is a broad category of media that enable social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques, and by leveraging web-based and mobile technologies to turn one-way communication into a two-way interactive dialogue. Facebook and Twitter are just tools. For technology geeks like myself the distinction is akin to that between SOA and Web Services.

    So, I agree facebook usage might go down as the fad wanes but Social Media on the whole is here to stay. My gut tells me that if we added up all the new users across the many different Social Media sites they would more than make up for the 5% loss that facebook had.

  • I think anything with this level of hype is bound to come off it's peak eventually, but I don't think it represents a major change. Sure, some people are burned out or turned off by an increasingly targeted form of marketing, or they were power users tired of providing status updates for every meal. But there are also a large number of more casual users to whom Facebook is just a box they check occasionally (like LinkedIn).

    It's still a decent business marketing alternative as well - a place to share lighter topics and conversations that don't make sense on an official website or public forum. And so much cheaper than conventional advertising. Our marketing dept. at ITKO uses both FB and Twitter and if it can create engagement, press mentions, referrals or recommendations at a free-or-almost-free price, why not?

  • Beyond all the fatigue factors, it's that Facebook has simply saturated its early markets and must seek growth elsewhere. It also means that Facebook's future growth will be not from broadening the base but deepening its ownership and ability to monetize the base that it already has.

    In other words, time for Facebook to grow up.

  • I think it is a signal for facebook that they crossed the line of privacy exposure. I include in that the commercial ads and the comlex way to handle your exposure. All of that make their users to be afraid of too much exposure.

  • Guess we can only surmise from the top line data unless they reveal more granular numbers. It may or may not be the end for facebook but it certainly it doesn't mean that it's dragging social media in general down. There's only so much people who can sign up and it's all bound to go down afterwards.

    I'd say it would be better to gauge fb activity of its users to get a clearer picture.

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