|Facebook’s U.S. Growth Stalls
By: Jeff Louis
Inside Facebook’s recently released report shows that its U.S. growth may be leveling. In fact, for both the 18-to-25 and 35-to-44 age demographics, the report shows a decrease in monthly active users.
CNET noted that Facebook acquired “a jaw-dropping 7.8 million new monthly active users in the U.S. in May” but only gained 320,800 new users a month later.
If this is a sign that traffic is actually slowing, realize that it had to come at some point. A finite number of people reside here, and much of the company’s rapid growth in recent months comes from outside U.S. borders. Inside Facebook reports that India and Indonesia grew the most in June; Indonesia gained 1,190,600 new users to India’s 989,640.
However, one has to wonder if the market here is truly saturated or if the drop in traffic is a result of eroding user confidence following Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s “open graph” announcement at the F8 Developer’s Conference and reports he did not believe in personal online privacy.
If the numbers are any indication, this isn’t the case. YouGov, a professional research and consulting organization, said Facebook’s brand value dropped in May but recovered in June. However, in direct contrast to this assessment, Inside Facebook’s numbers shows that monthly active users in June was but 4.1 percent of those in May.
It’s not an easy mess to untangle; other factors that could be attributed to the huge difference between May and June could be seasonality (more participation in outdoor activities) or the reasons people use Facebook (networking, socializing, or gaming). Perhaps it's an anomaly.
Eroding brand confidence is difficult to detect for entities like Facebook that are tight-lipped about their actual numbers. In regard to the question of saturation, it may be moot after the site’s rebound in July.
However, this is not to say some degree of mistrust does not exist among users. USA Today noted Facebook was “walking a fine line” between profit and privacy, and there are concerns among some users that Facebook doesn’t care about user experience as much as they do about mining information. USA Today reports that while Google searches on how to delete a Facebook account have increased, no mass exodus is taking place.
While it’s certain that user experience is the primary reason people flocked to Facebook, users are deluding themselves if they don’t see that the site has always been about business. If you asked Zuckerberg why he moved Facebook from college campuses to the world's stage, I’d bet his answer would be simple: profit.
Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!
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