By now, you might have seen the stats about Facebook’s growth declining fairly dramatically in the US.
After adding 7.8 million users in May, Facebook only grew by 320,800 users in June. More specifically, the age group in the 18 to 44 age range actually were less active on Facebook in June vs. previous months. So what gives? There are some that think it is over privacy concerns, and I think that has something to do with it. But, my guess is that Facebook is declining in its growth is 2 simple reasons:
1) Facebook doesn’t mimic how we really socialize or talk. In the offline world, we can control who we talk to by simply directing our voice to those we want to talk to. Even in the online world, we can do the same on email. It’s about control. Control over your messages, status updates, etc. The public nature of Facebook already freaks out the millions who still do not use it.
There is a great opportunity for a big company like Google (I’m sure they are getting to launch this – http://www.slideshare.net/padday/the-real-life-social-network-v2
) or a startup to create a social network that allows for multiple groups in your life and the multiple conversations (both public and private) that people want to have. There is also a great opportunity for brands to create a community that allows for different kind of conversations. Allowing users to keep talk private and organized by group should not only substantially increase the number of conversations, but the depth. I believe the brands that host those critical conversations will ultimately win.
2) Facebook is boring
. Let’s face it, after the initial excitement of adding lost friends, former classmates, co-workers, and relatives, you find yourself getting bored by what people post or at a loss to say anything interesting in your status update. There are those that don’t really care what people will think and post every little piece of minutia – the Facebook junkies. And, yes, I find them entertaining, but it’s not enough to keep someone coming back every day. Email has critical messages and notes that require you to come back (if you want to keep your job or your friends). Message boards have personalities that are entertaining and keep folks coming back. Sites like Digg
, and AllTop
bring the most interesting news and blogs to you and stay fresh, so you keep coming back.
As long as the main form of conversation is a small status update, Facebook will never be that interesting. I think the Social Network of the future will integrate the most interesting media
(like YouTube w/video, Flickr w/ photos, and AllTop w/blogs) into everyone’s page as conversation starters. It will also allow users to talk in groups (private chat rooms), and over video (like Skype
I’ll be the first one in line to sign up for the Social Network of the future with intelligent groups, more privacy features, the web’s most popular media, chat, and video. I can dream, so I hope this Social Network will allow me to transport my Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter data with 1 (or 3) clicks.