Thursday, February 14, 2013

Has Facebook Peaked?

Has Facebook peaked? Is it settling into a particular social media niche? Today's Daily Stat from the Harvard Business Review would seem to indicate that the answer to both questions is, "Yes":

FEBRUARY 14, 2013
Number of Users Spending Less Time on Facebook Outweighs Number Spending More Time

34% of Facebook users say they spend less time on the site now than last year, while just 13% say they spend more time on it, according to a Pew survey. Additionally, 28% say the site is less important to them now than a year ago, compared with 12% who say it's more important. Decreases in engagement with the site seem to be most prevalent among the young: 42% of users ages 18-29 report spending less time now on the site.

Source: Coming and Going on Facebook

Personally, I feel that Facebook is good for some things, like communicating with family, friends, and groups. But as a media for receiving or transmitting information or opinions, Twitter is better.

My guess as to why that's so has been that Facebook is more, pardon the unintended pun, "in your face," whereas the 140-character limit of a tweet on Twitter limits the irritation one might derive from an unpleasant political post, coarse comments, or other irritating posts, pictures, and forwards.

Each week on the PBS Newshour, Lauren Ashburn and Howard Kurtz converse on the cultural impact of digital media. I was struck by several of their comments in the segment two days ago, which seemed to dovetail with my thoughts:
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI [the anchor conducting the segment]...So we're finding actually that some people seem to be a little overloaded on Facebook, right? You have some data...
LAUREN ASHBURN: And they're taking a vacation from Facebook; 61 percent in the new Pew study, as you can see here, are taking a break from Facebook.
HOWARD KURTZ: Of several weeks or more -- a vacation, virtually.
And there's another 20 percent who were on Facebook, not anymore. And the question is, Lauren, why are they bailing out?
LAUREN ASHBURN: Why are they bailing out?
I mean, I think we could just have a discussion around this table about why we would want to bail out of social media. But I actually posted this on my Facebook page. And I think you have it on yours as well, that the reason, in addition to the ones that the study has, are the fact that you don't like what people are saying politically.
We saw that a lot during the campaign season, that it is affecting your family life, that you are obsessed. And you are spending too much time on social media and Facebook while your 3-year-old child is drawing on your carpet.
HOWARD KURTZ: Facebook fatigue could be a factor, but I also just think that some people are just bored with it. Facebook has been around now.
It's got a billion users worldwide. I don't think it has quite the buzz factor that it used to. So, some people may say, well, I can go on my mobile gadget and do other things, play other games, go on other social networks. Facebook has competition now.
LAUREN ASHBURN: And a lot of people say that Twitter, too, Christina, has almost usurped the place of Facebook in terms of getting information.
I think Facebook is now much more family-oriented and that your network is really your network of friends. But Twitter is where, if you're a journalist, or anyone else ...
HOWARD KURTZ: Public person or a politician.
LAUREN ASHBURN: A public person -- you can get -- disseminate information.
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: In short little bursts there.
The digital world moves at a lightning pace. We're all still figuring things out. I still use Facebook. But I'm now on Twitter much more than Facebook. It's my social media of choice. Others seem to be drawing the same conclusion or opting out of social media altogether.

No comments: