Thursday, 23 June 2011

Is Facebook loosing to Twitter and YouTube?

"YouTube and Twitter were the fastest growing social networks in May, whilst market leader Facebook lost market share of visits for a third consecutive month. YouTube consolidated its position as the second biggest social network in the UK, accounting for 20.52% of all UK Internet visits to social networks during the month. Meanwhile Twitter had its biggest ever month of UK Internet visits, peaking on 21 May when the website accounted for 1 in every 184 UK Internet visits.

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"The growth of YouTube and Twitter during May had an impact on Facebook’s market share, which dropped to 53.61% of all visits to social networks for the month. Overall seven of the top 10 most popular social networks in the UK gained market share of visits in May, whilst Facebook, Moshi Monsters and MySpace all lost market share."

Experian Hitwise :: Experian Hitwise reveals latest UK Search Engine and Social Analysis

It seems like Facebook has gone from being the darling of Social Media to a target recently. Facebook may have done the one that that no social network can be forgiven for. This was not about privacy, not about selling details to big business, not about turning users in to governments. No, Facebook has stopped growing.

Okay with 600,000,000 users spending about 10% of their total time on the web on Facebook, there might not be a lot of room to grow. But given the history of the web there are a lot of reasons to anticipate Facebook is headed for, if not a fall a significant decline. They include:

  1. History: every social network before Facebook that had a major expansive growth has has a decline. If you are betting that Facebook will not decline in the near future you are betting that Facebook is utterly unique

  2. The fate of previous garden sites. Really Facebook is repackaging the same strategy AOL used 15 years ago. Give people a single location on the web where they have their friends and family on hand and are not exposed to the freaks and nerds that mix on a global scale. This strategy did not work for AOL and it is not clear why is should work now. It is interesting to note that people seem to be leaving Faecbook for the wild open spaces of YouTube and Twitter

  3. Don't dismiss privacy. Launching face recognition the way it did may have been a nudge to push significant numbers of fence sitting Facebook users towards Twitter and YouTube.

Based on our own experience Facebook is in a bit of trouble. Our experience is that the longer you use Facebook the more inclined you are to start using YouTube and Twitter more. We thing that Facebook is kind of a "gateway drug" to Twitter and YouTube usage. The more you use Facebook the more you become interested in the potential of social networks, potential that Facebook can't meet with its Social Graph lock in. We anticipate that people will start looking more and more to sites like Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube and potentially even Quora. Also we would not be surprised to see a trend of people re-engaging with sites like Wikipedia or blogging. In our experience time spent on Facebook or Twitter may instill a new appreciation for the community and purpose of Wikipedia, and Twitters ability to host links is a great aid to Bloggers.

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