Lee Odden

Reader Poll: Is Facebook Losing it’s Luster?

reader poll

A recent report from Hitwise cited Facebook as having grown by 51% yet MySpace is still King of the online social networking world with 76% of US social network traffic. According to Nielsen Online, MySpace attracted 60.1 million visitors in December 2007 compared to 22.6 million visitors for Facebook.

While that growth news is all fine a good, from a personal observation standpoint, I’ve noticed I’m not logging into Facebook much anymore. Many of the updates I get are irrelevant to my interests as more and more people try to boost their friend counts and I mistakenly (in hindsight) accept those requests.

I posted a question to Twitter about not using Facebook lately and several others acknowledged the same trend which leads us to a Reader Poll question:

Are You Still Excited About Using Facebook?

  • No, I'm Over it (52%, 100 Votes)
  • Still Undecided (25%, 48 Votes)
  • Yes, the Fun is Just Beginning (19%, 37 Votes)
  • What's Facebook? (4%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 192

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From a marketing standpoint, our marketing agency is continuing testing and refinement of Facebook marketing as much as we ever have. But I’m curious if readers of this blog have noticed changes in their personal use of Facebook?

If you can share context or reasons for your answer in the comments, I’m sure other readers would appreciate it as would I.

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (6 votes, average: 4.67 out of 5)
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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. I don’t quite understand the need or the logic behind comparing Facebook to MySpace.

    That’s like the daft comparison of Pownce to Twitter — they’re nothing like the same thing.

    The respective audiences of Facebook and MySpace are fundamentally different.

    Yes, there are teenagers to be found on Facebook, but how many businesses do you see promoting themselves on MySpace?

    Similarly, how many musicians promote their music on Facebook?

    These are meaningless statistics…

  2. Wayne, this post and poll are not about comparing MySpace to Facebook, it’s about whether readers find themselves still excited about using Facebook – or not.

    As to citing statistics for both Facebook and MySpace, Hitwise and Nielsen are reputable enough organizations to warrant attention. Those who make investment and ad-buying decisions are interested in comparing Facebook, MySpace and any other social community web sites whether they are apples to apples or oranges to mangos comparisons. They’re still fruit.

  3. I haven’t logged into Facebook in the last week, and I’ve noticed that the time it takes me going back to Facebook is getting longer and longer.

    Getting bit by one too many zombies, you know?

  4. Hi Lee, I appreciate what you’re saying about the them of your article. But you do start by citing statistics that are themselves largely irrelevant to your own question.

    I stand by my statement — the numbers don’t add up to anything of mentionable value.

    As for the luster of Facebook, I suppose it’s all a question of what you want to get out of it.

    If people are getting bored with it, then there’s a better than average chance they really didn’t have a goal in mind before they joined…

  5. Wayne, sorry the reason for citing stats wasn’t clear.

    The continued growth of popular social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook as confirmed by the numbers repored by Hitwise and Nielsen, appears to be in conflict with my own personal Facebook usage and the use of a few other search marketers.

    This poll aims to capture a few more observations from our readers that also use Facebook. It’s as simple as that.

  6. There wasn’t really an answer that fit my view of facebook, which is, I use it now as much as I did before and will continue to do so, that amount is a lot, logging in and checking stuff multiple times daily.

    The main reason being, I guess, that my primary usage is due to being a student and many of my real life friends use facebook (far surpassing the shitty myspace – even though we all started out there) and not because I’m a marketeer trying to be cool or check out the new social media fad.

    Facebook is in my daily life as much as msn and mobiles are.

    Many marketeers seem to be dumping facebook and just using twitter. None of my real friends use twitter so I use it far less.

    It’s probably a demographic thing.

  7. I think it ultimately depends on what the individual uses Facebook or any networking/communication tool for.

    Adam said “None of my real friends use twitter so I use it far less”. That’s pretty telling. My wife has no interest in either FB or Twitter but spends time on MySpace cuz that’s where her friends are. (Yes, she hates the MySpace system as much as anyone, but puts up with it as a necessity in order to participate in her group’s chatter.)

    We as Internet marketers may have found that Facebook is not the most suitable place for us to congregate, but we may just be one group moving in mass due to our particular needs.

    I don’t think Facebook has jumped the shark just yet, but I am noticing returned interest in LinkedIN and Twitter recently. Facebook has several issues to fix before it can regain much of the leisure time I have to spend with such activities or networks.

  8. John Lockwood says:

    Hi Lee,

    From the perspective of your topic, online marketing, I take a fairly critical view of most social networks as being not worth the time invested. Facebook espeically is just noise. It’s great that someone threw a sheep at me, I suppose, but what’s that got to do with selling products and services?

    I’m sure the growth is fine — people like to be entertained.

  9. Lee … great poll topic. I don’t think Facebook is losing its luster but I think it’s having a bit of a what now problem. The majority of its users (still) are the college crowd or recently departed graduates. While there are plenty of folks in the business world, particularly the tech-oriented folks, who are on Facebook and pushing that median age upward, I think it’s having similar problems growing into the mainstream as Twitter and other social media platforms. Facebook has a “college graduate” or “techie” overtone in the minds of the average Joe. MySpace is easy enough for a 12-year-old to figure out to them.

    Facebook will have to find a way to break free of the “I won’t be able to figure it out” mindset of the mainstream consumer before it can get past it’s current level of success and move into MySpace territory. Fortunately for Facebook aficionados, the MySpace crowd is starting to migrate, I think. Then there will be two distinct users … those who prefer clean, simple designs and a more professional environment. And those who like the gaudy awkwardness of the MySpace environment.

    My two cents.

  10. I’m using FB selectively and mainly because some groups important to me from a business point of view have set up there. I find it off-putting that otherwise serious friends send me so much rubbish but I don’t find any one instance serious enough to want to spoil their fun.

  11. I have been using Facebook on and off about six months now, but lately I have only been visiting when I have received messages.

    I am undecided on whether I am over it or not. As a social network I think I am pretty much over it, but as a place to promote, I am not that sure.

    I am currently promoting a Norwegian college using social ads at Facebook. It works great and I will keep on using it for a few more months.

  12. Right now I am over the excitement of it. It had such an explosion of apps and I think I am a bit overwhelmed with the uselessness of most of them i have seen. Things need to settle a bit and the top useful apps need to rise to the top. Maybe the cleaning up of profile pages Facebook is trying to help folks with will help people focus one fewer channels of communication, ones that are most useful.

    I have not given up on it, but my excitement is gone for the moment. I don’t visit every day any more, maybe once every few days. I need more time to explore and discover it’s true usefulness.

  13. I find that getting so many rubbish requests for ‘zombie film comparisons gift exchanges’ really is starting to annoy, but there are still some compelling and uniquely useful applications like Blog Friends.

    I have tried out some experiments with business pages which have had mixed levels and types of success, and a key issue for me seems to be the difficulty in maintaining a sufficient level of intimacy and consistent contact with one’s network(s). You just can’t garner attention easily, because there’s always some new baubles in there to distract people.

    The announcement of an application to clean up your profile was significant, and ‘Scoblegate’ as well as the Guardian newspaper hatchet job are signs that sentiment may be moving against facebook – which is entirely predictable.

    I’d say I am definitely less keen, logging on less frequently, and very likely to refuse to install many more stupid apps, but still open minded about where its future direction might lead. Facebook have made some incredibly stupid moves, and I think they really need to make some smart hires soon to scale beyond the college crowd ethos, or the bubble may start to burst.

  14. Lee – Answering your request. Still like Facebook for a variety of reasons. I also think it’s overhyped and could find a competitor. It’s all about the buzz. Right now, Twitter seems to be getting more than anybody…
    Charlie

  15. Facebook is not necessarily losing its luster for the general internet public. It just so happens that there are more specialty social networks popping up more often where it fits into a particular niche. I find linkedin to be pretty good because of its professional networking aspect.

  16. Where’s the “I don’t use these kinds of sites and I don’t give a shit anymore about them, stop stumbling this stuff” vote on the poll?

  17. Wow, thanks for the feedback everyone. Many great points and observations. I do think my experience cited above is somewhat unique to the SEM community. That community does seem to move from one social platform to another.

    I would reiterate that our agency continues to perform Facebook based marketing as much as we ever have. That said, I do appreciate all the feedback.

    Bastedt, I believe your vote option would be “What’s Facebook?”

  18. I don’t know if Facebook is over. I know I’m about to cancel my MySpace page because I get get so much flippin spam. I get ridiculous stuff from my Facebook friend, but at least it’s not the 5 requests a day to go to a porno site.

  19. Simon Dance says:

    I have to agree with Chad Board about the spam on Myspace – which is absurd! But Facebook is starting to get annoying with all of the application invites, messy pages and “other” notifications.

    I much prefer slimmed down profiles… leave the fuss to the groups and events pages!

    Still plenty of scope for Facebook in 2008 I feel..

    Si

  20. Daan Jansonius says:

    Facebook has already taken steps to make their news feed more relevant and they are working on more steps to stop people from getting those annoying widget notifications.

    Personally, I’m still a heavy facebook user. But I’ve never really used it as a business tool. I’ve studied in England for two years and am currently back in Holland, which makes Facebook a great tool to stay in touch.

    I can see why Facebook can lose its appeal as a business tool with all the ‘he spanked her’and ‘tommy threw a duck at suzy’ kinda like news items in the feed.

    And I agree about the ridiculous amount of spam sent out on MySpace (and also that comparing it to facebook seems a bit silly)

  21. Andy Keith says:

    I agree with the comments about “otherwise serious friends sending rubbish” and also about the superficiality and uselessness of much of the FB apps. Although it has widened its audience, its appeal remains primarily strong for a college-age demographic, with less utility for the rest of us. I get lots of invitations to join groups and causes, review movies, send drinks, trinkets, good karma, etc. to my friends, all of which seems rather pointless after a few go-rounds. Facebook was initially fun and interesting, but now comes across as increasingly narcissistic.

  22. Simon Dance says:

    “now comes across as increasingly narcissistic” – here here…

  23. I find myself using Facebook less these days. It’s like any new site that gets a lot of buzz. It’s sure to lose some steam after some time.

    That being said, Facebook is still a great place for businesses to advertise, especially to a certain demographic of your choice.

    Many businesses are using Facebook for sponsored ads and are receiving a revenue boost. Sponsored search is also much cheaper then Google, Yahoo and MSN.

    As an example a colleague of mine operates a career site (A top performing merchant on CJ.com) and has had his afiliates market the program through facebook in the past few months.

    According to my colleague, his site has received a huge revenue spike.

    I do think Facebook will see a decline of users going forward but it will still be a major player as far as social network sites are concerned and good place for businesses to advertise.

  24. I have been a member of MySpace for about 2 years now. I only recently joined Facebook, but in my experience: 1) MySpace simply looks way cooler than Facebook. 2) Facebook doesn’t seem to cater to as broad of a range of people as MySpace does. And, 3) MySpace seems to promote itself a lot more (and better) than Facebook. Just an observation. Thanks for the article!

  25. @Marketing Consultant: most of myspace looks horrific.

  26. San Marcos says:

    An online marketing blog polling its audience about the popularity of Facebook…? LOL there’s a credible survey! LOL

  27. I still use facebook some, but definitely not as much as I once did. Why? Not sure. Like the article said, I get way too many invites for non-sense stuff. It has helped me generate two new clients, but has all that time I’ve spent on it really paid off, I don’t think so. I think facebook, like a lot of other social sites, has potential but not sure how much for actual conversion of “friends” to clients.

    The tough thing for me is the SEO stuff – I haven’t found it to really help me with brand management or link building.

    @San Marcos not sure what your problem is 🙂

  28. Facebook, Myspace and similar eventually become passive “Look at my stuff” sites like Flickr and YouTube where you trawl through other people’s likes, dislikes, lives and stuff, although I do accept that the special interest groups can be interesting. To keep people interested in the long run you need active engagement and relevant personal involvement. The special interest groups lose their focus once you get to the big life, death and literature issues. If you are bored with Facebook, have you had a look at Cinnaminta? It is a very new site (not much content yet) where you can actively request, or offer to provide, a performance or video of almost anything you want from almost anywhere around the world. If you like the idea then have a look at:

    http://www.cinnaminta.com/en/boredwithfacebook.htm

  29. Facebook continues to be the leader but since so many more social networks are coming on-line one feels overwhelmed on information. Like you I don’t FB as much.

  30. I initially signed up for Facebook from a marketer’s perspective. It was the hottest new site and I wanted to make sure I understood the platform.

    I was soon hooked from a personal perspective as I re-connected with a lot of old friends. However, after that initial re-connection period I’ve found myself using Facebook less and less. I don’t use it as a primary communication method (Facebook email or wall posts) so there’s not a whole lot of reasons to return, except to maintain contact with a few friends overseas.

    I’m also becoming increasingly perturbed by people who spam post my wall with ‘amusing’ jokes and videos. Like Lee my Facebook messages are becoming less relevant/personal by the day. So my interest in Facebook is now back purely to a professional interest.

  31. spostareduro says:

    I think that one of the most annoying parts of Facebook is the applications processes… You can’t simply receive/give an animated gift, write on a wall, join a cause, etc., without going through some sort of time-consuming process.

    On the plus side, there are many new faces/friends, groups of plenty, and gain to be tapped into there.

    I am still debating it’s benefits/lack thereof, as I am still new to it’s environment. We’ll see…

  32. facebookisdoomed says:

    Facebook is increasing its members, but the amount of time the members spend on the site is actually falling. Soon, all these social networking sites will eventually fall to wayside as a passing fad with millions of inactive profiles just like chatrooms until the only regular users of these sites will be newbies, teenies, perverts and fake profilers and people promoting things.

  33. I don’t totally buy into facebookisdoomed’s statement that facebook “will eventually fall to wayside as a passing fad with millions of inactive profiles just like chatrooms until the only regular users of these sites will be newbies, teenies, perverts and fake profilers and people promoting things”.
    I do think that interest will decline but social networking sites are hear for a long time.
    The key to these types of sites for both Search Engine Marketers and Affiliate Marketers (Like myself) is to get in when it’s fairly new and go along for the ride.

    Like anything else in our industry, there will be ups and downs and new technologies, concepts, etc. A lot of what we now do, will be irrelevent in the future but it’s still important to capitalize on those things when they’re hot.

  34. Hi Anthony, thanks for stopping by. Hope you are well.

  35. Hi Lee,
    Thanks for asking. I’m doing great!
    I visit often. This blog is extremely valuable to anyone interested in SEO and SEM.

  36. Hi Lee, this is very interesting.

    But one thought I had: maybe this reflects the early adopters, more so than the average person.

    I still run into people all the time who are just hearing about and exploring Facebook for the first time. IN fact, I still run into people who have NOT heard of Facebook.

    All these social media sites and applications have life cycles. Twitter is hot now, but who knows in 6 months or a year?

    Anita

  37. Hi Anita, I think you’re right about the audience taking this poll being skewed in a particular direction. Mostly search marketers and many early adopters.

    With the large influx of Twitter users lately, I am wondering what the shelf life is there too.

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