Facebook has had unprecedented growth and is one of the most valuable technology companies in the world. As the most popular social networking site, it has transformed the tech social space and the way people connect and share information. The platform has also amassed the largest database of personal information ever created, information that is turning to dollars as the company picks up their advertising efforts and presses forward with their IPO. This is all true; however, certain trends of Facebook users have moved some analysts to ask questions regarding the slowing of Facebook in mature markets and a possible subsequent leveling of its value.

The idea of Facebook fatigue implies a saturation point has been reached. But that saturation point could relate to several aspects of the Facebook experience. For one, it could focus on the number of total users and the rate of adoption or it could relate to what users do on the platform - or both for that matter. Looking at the figures, the number of Facebook visits is still rising across all platforms, but significant growth has been largely relegated to emerging markets like Brazil, India, and Indonesia. Growth is being experienced but the slowing trend for the mature market suggests there is a possible saturation point.

User behavior, however, is where the concern mainly lies. Besides the defriending trend that I discussed in a previous article, users from around the world reduced the amount they engaged in essential Facebook activities such as searching for new contacts, messaging friends, and sending digital presents, according to research from GlobalWebIndex. Over six installments of the study ending towards the end of 2011, messaging fell by 12%, searching for new contacts dropped by 17%, and joining a group fell 19% among US users. 

Similarly, user visit time to Facebook.com dropped in Australia from 28 minutes to 22 minutes year-over-year this past January, according to separate research by Experian Hitwise.  These trends are not great news for the platform as they indicate it is being used less as a hangout space and more as a utility, thus potential changing the shape of Facebook.

Implications for Businesses, SEO Companies, and Internet Marketers

So the fatigue most refer to in relation to Facebook is both the slowing adoption growth and reduction in key behaviors specifically in mature markets. SEO companies and internet marketers need to:

  • track Facebook trends from now on to continually assess how companies can connect with their fans for promotional opportunities and meaningful engagement, taking into account trends for emerging markets will be different from those for mature markets.

The trends may not be that significant now, however, they are telling, and if they continue, they will undoubtedly demand an even greater shift in marketing action.  

If you have questions regarding these trends and how you can utilize Facebook for social marketing, Facebook ads, or SEO - reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen@webimax.com.