With Facebook quickly approaching world domination (hyperbole) and with reports of an upcoming IPO, I was surprised to read from FastCompany that Facebook’s U.S. membership shrunk by nearly 6 million users during the month of May (a drop of nearly 4%). Hard to believe, but at least in the U.S., it seems that people are jumping the social behemoth ship.
Growth remains strong internationally, particularly in emerging markets like Mexico, Brazil and India… which is to be expected, since Facebook is (relatively) new to these countries. Domestically speaking, one might expect growth to slow or perhaps even stall since Facebook was born in the USA (cue Springsteen) – after all, every product or service eventually reaches the Maturity stage of the product life cycle.
But a flat-out decline in users? Could it be that, at least domestically, Facebook has skipped the Maturity phase and gone straight to the Saturation and Decline stage?
Well, I don’t know about that. This is only one month of data, so it’s too early to speculate with any degree of certainty. But this does raise a couple of interesting questions.
- In the U.S., there are roughly 150 million Facebook users. This accounts for just over 20% of Facebook’s total user base. Can the growth in other regions make up for decline in the U.S., if this continues? (I think so.)
- Of the 700 million global users, nearly 50% log in to their Facebook account each day. Even if we are beginning to see a slow bleed in the U.S., does it really matter? (I doubt that those highly engaged users who are logging in daily or even weekly are among those quitting Facebook. The decline is most likely attributed to final abandonment of inactive accounts.)
What will happen to Facebook if this blip in user-ship (made up term) becomes a trend? My thought: we won’t see Facebook disintegrate any time soon. It has, for many, become too intertwined with new norms of staying in touch with people. It has changed the way we connect. And made itself an integral, essential part of that connection process. Just one example: I don’t share photos with my friends and family any other way than via Facebook albums and groups. It’s the easiest, quickest way to loop people in and share.
But still… could we see Facebook saturate the social market to the point where users tire of it and abandon it? I suppose anything is possible.
The bottom line: