As evermore people become interlinked to the Facebook social network, increasing membership has to plateau at some point. In fact, it probably already has. But will Facebook’s usage plateau? I think this is unlikely. Let have a look at the facts…..
Whilst people spend an average of only 24 minutes on Twitter, they spend 7 hours on Facebook. On this basis, Twitter seems in greater trouble than Facebook.
Nonetheless, I think it would be unwise to believe that the site will have a smooth ride in maintaining its dominance. Fierce battles have already emerged between Facebook and its key competitors. Also, there is a growing supply of social media services offering creative solutions.
How should Facebook (and other social media companies) respond? Firstly, it is important to realise different sites have their individual strengths and features. On this basis, they might be better placed to differentiate themselves and focus on their strengths rather than putting their energy into battling with each other. Nonetheless, they all need to ensure they keep up with attractive innovations, to avoid users fleeing to use superior features elsewhere. Given Facebook’s growth on mobiles and its introduction of new tools, it does not seem to be heading for the real decline just yet. On the other hand, is the site doing enough innovations to keep its users entertained? And, what is Facebook’s strategic advantage? Whilst Facebook offers photo storage, videos and gaming, there are better places to find this.
As more companies enter the social media arena and gain popularity, competition is bound to intensify. Even mainstream users of social media are keen to be the first to try the latest innovation. This is good news for start-ups and bad news for Facebook. Established players should be wary these new start-ups do not steal their members. Whilst some people will remain active members of numerous sites, I think many people will move from Facebook as they struggle to maintain active use of all networking sites.
Arguably, the most threatening development is the establishment of Google+. Whilst Google+ is still a small player, the already powerful brand’s rapid growth means it should be closely monitored. Google+ is still in the early adopter stage of the product lifecycle. Will it have the strength to enter the mainstream market like Facebook and Twitter? Whilst Google+ is new development, it has the back of a strong brand and a range of standard and innovative features that are more than a rival to Facebook. However, it has not attracted mass adoption overnight. So let’s not get too carried away. I believe further work still needs to be done for it to become the new alternative to Facebook.
Overall, I think speculations over Facebook’s decline seem rash, ungrounded and unlikely to actually happen in the near future. However, it is premature to project exactly how the situation will evolve in the distant future. Indeed, long-term trends of competing social media sites slump and growth are unclear. Whether trends in Facebook’s lower usage are a long-term trend or a short-term blip are uncertain. The longer-term trend will depend on how Facebook and its competitors are able to offer exciting innovative solutions. How members, potential members, and competitors respond will be an interesting development for us to watch out for.
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