Is Facebook Becoming A Ghost Town?

How many of you are familiar with Facebook?  OK, silly question.  After all, it’s the biggest social media site.  Let’s try again.

"Ghost" Town - NARA - 543356

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How many of you are familiar with Wanelo, Vine, Snapchat, Kik, or 4chan?  If you have a teen in the house, you might be, since these are, according to a Piper Jaffray study, the social sites in which teen interest is rapidly growing.  Final question:  how many of you are familiar with, and used to frequent, Friendster, MySpace, or Second Life?  Emphasis on the “used to” since they’re pretty much gone.

If I was a Facebook shareholder (which I’m not), I’d be very concerned.  Not just about a couple of things I’m going to mention but also about management’s plans to grow revenues.  Let me explain.

First, the research.  According to Tech Crunch’s reporting of the aforementioned study:

Interest in Facebook seems to be declining heavily among teens. Though teens still dub Facebook their most important social network, Piper Jaffray reports that the numbers are down regarding how many teens see Facebook as the most important social media website. Over the past year, the number of teens who deem Facebook as the most important social media site has dropped from more than 30 percent to just over 20 percent.

I realize teens are fickle, but they’re also trendsetters in a lot of ways.  They’re also a notoriously difficult group to reach via ads, and the social media chatter about brands—positive or negative—is a big factor in their purchasing decisions.  Which leads to my second concern.

AdAge reported on Facebook’s plans to insert video ads in users’ news feeds:

While the format of the units isn’t totally nailed down, it’s widely assumed that they’ll be autoplay and presented in a video player that expands beyond the main news-feed real estate to cover the right- and left-hand rails of users’ screens on the desktop version of Facebook.

It won’t matter if the user or any of his or her friends have engaged with the brand on Facebook.  Users will at most see three ads a day. Now I will shut almost any site that autoplays video, especially if it’s advertising.  Let’s think about how strong the user backlash is going to be if the autoplay report is accurate, and will that backlash spill over to affect the sponsors as well as Facebook?  It just might.

One doesn’t have to look too far into the future to see the beginnings of a ghost town in the making.  If a town’s young citizens are moving away for greener pastures, can businesses and their parents be too far behind?  What do you think?

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1 Comment

Filed under digital media, Thinking Aloud

One response to “Is Facebook Becoming A Ghost Town?

  1. EricD

    Maybe the culprit is advertising itself. No one in analyst land seems to want to address that elephant in the room. How long will ROI be dependent on the almighty advert dollar and CPM’s? The most used button on my tv remote remains the 15 and 30 sec skip ahead feature my geek neighbor programmed in for me. Talk about a killer app! Hint hint

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