Facebook have an average of just over 1 billion monthly users and 680 million who use the app on their smartphones/mobile phones. So the question that must be asked is; how long can they keep expanding and are they near to reaching their peak?
The phenomenon that is Facebook, is “getting old” for many and increasingly people are getting fed up with Facebook. They are trying to introduce new aspects, such as the 20 highlights of 2012 on timeline, but it is it big enough to improve the experience of using Facebook? The core aspect of Facebook is to connect with friends through text, photos, videos and other media; this limits the extent to which Facebook can improve their site once so many people are on board. People are increasingly taking “Facebook Vacations”; logging off the social network for several weeks at a time to get a break from constant social updates. This would suggest that some people are either no longer satisfied by its offering or are too bombarded by social media and genuinely just want a break. My bet is on a bit of both. Furthermore, Twitter is becoming increasingly popular with the younger generation, with many people now present on both Facebook and Twitter. People are also choosing to spend more time on Twitter than Facebook, but granted this is still likely to be the minority.
Facebook have introduced a bigger array of advertising on the site over the years, which could be a reason for the slowdown in excitement directed towards the Facebook brand. They target their advertising, as many of you will know, at each individual. They do this by scanning the individuals interests and ‘likes’ but also the location they are in, to increase the effectiveness in targeting the right audience with the advertising. It is a clever way of advertising, but do users feel bombarded by the increasing amount of ads? I personally do not, as I don’t mind adverts that are relational, but some may not care or just not want any advertising at all.
The next chapter…
Just under a month ago, Facebook held a press conference to introduce “Graph Search”. It will act like a search engine, but will be far more personal. Graph Search lets the user enter plain-English concepts that tie together multiple things the social network knows about the people who use it; for example, where they live, work, like to socialise. Moreover, it helps the user helps find people, photos, interests and places at a much faster rate. It is only be available to a very small minority at the moment, as it is in the beta stage, but will be rolled out over the year once it is perfected. It is going to make Facebook even easier to use, and much better in terms of finding things the user wants; It could potentially lead to people using Facebook as a searching function instead of a browsing one. This would differentiate it against Twitter.
At the moment, it does seem that the commercialisation of the Facebook brand and the lack of options for future expansion could limit the possibility of further growth at the rate it has achieved over the last 9 years. Although, it would be pretty daft to rule out Mark Zuckerburg to take Facebook to new, exciting places over the next decade, purely due to what he has already created.
It is safe to say that Facebook has not reached its peak, but it is safe to say that it is unlikely that growth will continue at the same rate it has achieved in the last 9 years.