There are several news reports recently that said Facebook has lost six million US users over the last year. While its user base continues to grow in developing countries, it seems that Facebook has plateaued in the US.
Facebook is an interesting case in terms of marketing and human behavior. Though there were other “social networks” that preceded it, Facebook has enjoyed the success or the influence more than all of them. But is it a victim of its own success?
It is a funny thing with social media. There can only be one winner. Why would anyone join a network that no one was part of? You only want the one, like Facebook, that has (nearly) everybody.
However, can it be too big? We often tell clients that, in crowded market spaces with many competitors (new social networks seem to spring up all the time), you have to tell the market who you are for, and equally important, who you are not for to be meaningful and impactful in that market. Facebook has forgotten this marketing dynamic. In fact, it seems it would like everyone to think they have something for everyone.
The generic is never attractive. Everyone wants to feel special and reaffirmed, which is why brands must put a stake in the ground. The moment a consumers choice of a brand is rewarded by being like everyone else, they will start looking elsewhere for that affirmation.
You can say what you want about social media and its worth in the market place, but this is a highly debated topic and, if Facebook continues to lose membership, this argument will continue get louder. Perhaps Facebook has gotten to the point where it actually believes it is too big to fail and that its members should feel privileged to be part of it. But this is exactly backwards and indicative of an organization primed to stumble.
Do I think Facebook will go away any time soon? Hardly. But unless it works harder to make its brand a reflection of its customers then it too will have a hard row to hoe in Farmville.