Interesting to read an article in The Drum http://thedrum.co.uk/news/2012/02/06/global-internet-survey-charts-facebook-fatigue this week about some research done on internet usage by GlobalWebIndex which, amongst other things highlighted decline in Facebook usage amongst the early adopters. Coined as “Facebook fatigue” it seems that these early adopters might now be leaving Facebook behind.
Whilst at the outset this might look like bad news for Facebook, in practice it really isn’t. Early Adopters tend to represent around 13% of consumers and they are likely to be more fickle and move onto new technologies quicker than others.
Facebook has experienced rapid growth since 2009, 5 years after the launch in 2004. This growth will have been made up of consumers labelled as the Early and the Late Majority. The Early Majority wait until the Innovators and Early Adopters have given something their seal of approval before committing. This group can represent around 34% of consumers and once they start signing up the medium goes into the biggest growth phase eventually attracting the Late Majority – again around 34%. This is where Facebook is probably now and it is inevitable as it becomes more mainstream that the cool kids, innovators and early adopters will tire of it.
It is no different to the band you liked when no one else knew about them graduating to being on the playlist at Radio 1. Suddenly they lose their appeal, the exclusivity of the club is no more and the values that you once so admired seem to become swamped by commercial drivers. For Innovators and Early Adopters the fact that their Dad and their Nan are on Facebook and that big business are set to invest, moves it from cool to mainstream and there will inevitably be a decline in interest from this group.
For Facebook, however, this is the coup. They now have on board the consumers who are the most loyal, the least reluctant to move to new technologies and the least concerned about being “cool”. These people have developed networks, connected with friends past and present, shared information and personal details with something that they trust. It is the perfect time to announce a flotation on the stock market because this adds to the credibility of the business in their eyes.
It seems Facebook have succeeded where MySpace failed. MySpace went after the cash too early and lost credibility amongst their following which was substantially smaller than Facebook’s. They have since struggled to regain this and with recent reports that even their employees have lost faith in it, it remains to be seen if the recent joint venture with Panasonic will save them. They would need offer something innovative and new to win back some of the Innovators and Early Adopters they have lost, get them to breath new life into their space and champion it to those more reluctant to take risks.
Some research done in the states suggests that early adopters are still using Facebook on a regular basis and it might be that the talk of “Facebook fatigue” outweighs the reality of people disconnecting from the space. Whilst our friends and family are talking and connecting on Facebook we have a compelling reason to stay that is part of human nature….we don’t want to be left out or miss anything.