Friday, 17 June 2011

Has Facebook faltered?

It was widely reported this week that Facebook had lost customers in the UK to the tune of 100,000 users with an even larger proportion being lost in the US. It was also reported that overall the rate of Facebook's global growth had slowed significantly for 2 months in a row. Both of these facts were denied by Facebook themselves stating 'From time to time, we see stories about Facebook losing users in some regions. Some of these reports use data extracted from our advertising tool, which provides broad estimates on the reach of Facebook ads and isn't designed to be a source for tracking the overall growth of Facebook'.

Whatever the facts of this story, the nervousness that underpins the reporting and comment highlights just how reliant some, especially companies have become on Facebook as a platform. The site undoubtedly provides the opportunity for really deep engagement with customers and the explosion in Facebook Commerce (F-Commerce) just goes to prove how important it has become to the sales and marketing investment strategy for many companies, but there is an inherent danger in switching to a one channel focus and the lessons learned from sites such as MySpace and Friendster and their loss of favour have to be heeded, as history does have a habit of repeating itself.

At present the time on site per user as reported by Comscore has increased from 21 to 25 minutes per day, however relying on this to continue could be a folly. It's important that there is investment and presence across a number of diverse channels in recognition of the fact that users are very promiscuous when it comes to the way they use the net and could move on at any time.

'Fish where the fish are' is a wise strategy, but you have to also keep one eye on the potential future migration patterns to ensure that the pool doesn't get over-fished and you miss out as the fish swim elsewhere. At the moment, Facebook is still where all the action is but you need to keep an eye open for where the action could be in the future and be ready to move.

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