5 Reasons I Think Facebook Is On The Decline

Crazy right?  Who in their right mind would make a silly claim about a network that has close to 900 million active users with average usage times close to 20 minutes per day?  The fact is, no one is bullet proof.  Ask Yahoo, MySpace or ….., all major networks that ruled heavily at one time and all which fell from grace to other up and comers.

I’ve felt a growing sense that Facebook might have already peaked and is currently beginning to slide.  The only missing piece to truly escalate that slide is an alternative to do better what Facebook fails at.  I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

That being said, here are the 5 reasons I think Facebook is on the decline:

1. All The Numbers Are Starting To Say So.  According to numbers cited on The Inquistir, in April Facebook witnessed 158 million US unique visitors, only 5% higher than 2011 numbers. While 5% growth may not seem horrendous, it’s a drastically big decline from April 2011 when Facebook witnessed 24% growth and far worse than April 2010 when the social network had an 89% growth rate.  Facebook points out that users are now spending up to six hours per month on the social network, up by 16% during the same 2011 period, however that rate of increase is also slowing, jumping by only 23% from last year compared to 57% in 2010.  Throw in the disappointing stock showing, and you have quite a few numbers pointing to some trouble.

2. Their Apps Are Terrible.  How a network as large as Facebook can take such a lacksidaisical approach to their mobile app development is mind boggling to me.  While I have not experienced their mobile apps outside of Apple devices, their iPhone and iPad apps are horrendous.  Terribly slow, they crash frequently, and often times they are simply unusable.  Now, it’s clearly obvious why this has been the case…Facebook doesn’t make any money with their mobile apps.  They want users on the actual website.  Fair enough.  But ignoring a mobile audience for so long is a death sentence.  Especially with the sheer growth of mobile penetration across the world.  They may figure out how to monetize mobile, but clearly they are opening up the door for someone else to come along and get the mobile social experience right.

3. Their Website Is And Has Been A Mess.  While I actually like the new Timeline layout, it has received mostly negative backlash.  But more importantly, I’ve just never found the Facebook site to be all that intuitive when it comes to managing those you are connected with.  Sure you can create lists of folks, and have features available to you, but the execution just seems terribly over convoluted.  If I can’t figure out how to do certain things quickly and easily, then I can assure you folks who aren’t as seasoned on a computer will be even more.  The problem here is that generally people have short attention spans, and are easily distracted.  If Facebook doesn’t do a better job at delivering a world class user experience, they again are opening up the door to someone else to do so and lose users.

4. The Ad Platform Doesn’t Deliver.  I’ve used Facebook Ads a ton.  In some cases, they can be a useful tool to build reach and connect with the right folks.  The targeting options are fantastic, but that’s it.  The bottom line is that Facebook Ads fail to deliver true business results for most organizations and the exodus is beginning (See General Motors?).  They are also very hard to measure beyond Facebook’s own home grown stats, Facebook Insights, which are pretty terrible in their own right.  If they can’t deliver true value with their ad products, there goes their revenue stream.

5. They Do Not Care About Users.  Have you ever heard anyone ever say something positive about Facebook when it comes to customer service, feedback consideration or anything when it comes to community interaction?  Does anyone have any sense that they could feasibly influence a feature or improvement for the platform?  Nope.  Yes, managing 950 million users is a daunting task, but I’ve never really understood why Facebook never considered  a world class community set up like Dell’s IdeaStorm or My Starbucks Idea.  In addition to crowd sourcing great ideas, the good will that comes from platforms like this is priceless.

Regardless of these or any other reasons, it’s not like Facebook is going anywhere anytime soon.  But given these and a number of any other missteps, there’s no reason to think that Facebook can one day be yesterday’s news.  It’s happened numerous times in the past, and likely to happen again.  What say you?

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