Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Does Facebook's loss of users signal a shift in Social Media?

An interesting question came up on the ebizQ Web 2.0 forum today. As everyone must know by now, Facebook lost more than 5% of its user in the U.S. last month, and if you haven't heard, here's an article at Computerworld. The question is whether this signals an underlying shift in social media?

Most answers came down to something along the lines of "Social Media is a fad and all fads fade away eventually..."

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

Social media is a broad category of media that enables 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.

A couple of reasons can help explain what's going on:
  1. Facebook fatigue as users get tired and/or bored with facebook.
  2. More exciting or relevant options become available. The Social Media landscape is lush with tools of which facebook is just one option.  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. Also, more than likely these 5% users that defected facebook went to one of the other options thus having no impact on Social Media usage overall. 
So, I agree facebook usage might go down as the fad loses intensity but Social Media on the whole is here to stay.

* Originally posted on the ebizQ Web 2.0 forum on June 15, 2011.

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