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Media (R)evolutions: Facebook fatigue sets in

Roxanne Bauer's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

Facebook is, by a long shot, the world's largest social network.  As of June 2015, it claimed a staggering 1.49 billion active users globally and 968 million daily active users, with mobile users making up more than 87% of these totals. Outside China, over 80% of internet users have a Facebook account, and the platform still has the most members and active users of any social network.

Moreover, users tend to visit Facebook multiple times each day— activity not seen to the same degree on other networks. Visits from users in developed countries are generally briefer than those in emerging markets, but regardless of location, more than half of Facebook’s active users engage with the site more than once a day.

However, even though Facebook's empire continues to expand, with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram all playing important roles, "Facebook fatigue", in which users avoid the platform for weeks at a time, has emerged as a new trend.  GlobalWebIndex (GWI) interviewed 200,000 internet users across 33 different countries, and the results appear to show that this trend is increasingly global.
Decline in Facebook use globally

According to research specialists at GWI, Facebook experienced a drop in active usage of 8% in 2014.  Of the 8 major social platforms studied, Facebook was the only one to see a drop in active users. Meanwhile Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram all grew substantially.
Growth in top social platforms

Facebook’s drop in usage is largely due to the proliferation of social networks. In 2012, the average social network user had 2.56 accounts; in 2014 they had 5.39. With so many networks competing for the time and attention of users, it’s unavoidable that people would spread-out their social networking across different platforms.  Moreover, smaller and more specialized platforms are growing at fastest rates; people are frequently choosing to upload their photos to Instagram and share their interests on Pinterest, for example.

Meanwhile, Facebook is considered to be ‘uncool’ by many teenagers, further adding to its decline. GWI’s research showed that teens were less likely to post or interact on Facebook than other age groups.

Facebook is aware of this trend and is taking steps to counter it. Recent additions to the platform such as Facebook Instant Articles, multi-product ads, and video playlists are aimed at keeping users on the network, rather than leaving to visit other sites.

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