Inside Facebook released a report Monday showing that while Facebook continues to grow worldwide, it’s popularity in the U.S. and other “early adopter countries” may be waning.
Worldwide they say Facebook was up 5 million users in May, but their data shows U.S. users falling from 155.2 million in April to 149.4 million in May, a whopping 6 million person decrease. Inside Facebook is careful to state that these numbers come from Facebook’s ad tool and is not an official Facebook report. They also go to great lengths in comparing their numbers to those of companies like comScore and Compete.
The slew of reports don’t all agree – some are up, some are down. It’s also important to note that one month can always be an anomaly. It’s better to look at the broader trend over many months. Looking over many months, though, it’s clear that Facebook’s growth in the U.S. has slowed in 2011.
Inside Facebook is also reporting declines in Facebook users in Britain, Norway, and Russia as well.
In my opinion, the newness of Facebook has definitely worn off for most people. It’s definitely not the shiny new toy it was a couple of years ago. I still check Facebook several times a day, but it’s not some place I hang out. I scan updates for interesting links and meaningful updates from friends and respond as quickly as I can. Get in, get out, move on. And I’m certainly noticing more Facebook friends going days or weeks without posting any updates.
While some people seem to think Twitter is the new Facebook, I don’t see it. Twitter’s growth has slowed too, unless you count the millions of phony, auto-posting spam accounts created every month.
This is nothing out of the ordinary or unexpected, though. Every technology reaches its saturation point where it runs out of room to grow. Personal Facebook use seems to have reached that point in the U.S.
The area where I still see growth, though, is in churches, non-profits and businesses. Larger and more tech-savvy organizations have been using Facebook (and Twitter) for a while now, but lots of smaller organizations and new organizations are embracing social media every month.
What are your observations from your own use of Facebook and that of your friends? Is Facebook losing some of its luster? If so, why do you think that is? Are people moving to other social networks? Other online activities? Or something else entirely?