Facebook is far and away the biggest social network on the planet with nearing a billion users worldwide. But for a network that started off as a way for university friends to keep in touch and poke each other, and with user numbers in the UK declining by 600,000 (1.86%) in December according to SocialBakers – has it finally reached market saturation?
As everyone’s parents and grandparents have joined the service and Facebook went public on the NYSE, it is certainly no longer a secret or simply where young people hang out online, however, and that might just be the problem. Facebook hasn’t been “cool” or exciting for a long time, with lively open discussions often moving to twitter and photo sharing being synonymous with an Instagram filter. Facebook has become so “uncool” in fact, that when the company stumped up $1 billion to purchase Instagram last year, the creative Instagram community were up in arms.
So is that it? Not by a long shot. Facebook is big enough that it has become essentially part of the underlying framework of the web like email and will not be going away anytime soon. Email is a combination of protocols working together and there are numerous competitors in the market that provide those services with different business models, but even with its monopoly Facebook is struggling to make a significant growth in profits since its IPO.
The lack of growth means that Facebook is entertaining new and interesting ways to make money from its users – but the problem with doing things like charging Facebook Page owners to get their message to a wider selection of the fans that have already signed up to the page is alienating its most important users – the creators. Facebook needs to grow outside of the “friends network” that it already dominates, and through its “Pages”, brands, musicians, boutiques and everyone else has a presence on the network – but if Facebook is going to charge them to broadcast a message to their own users they will reconsider whether that is the best use of their time and money. And without this interaction, which is something that Facebook is quickly losing to Twitter, Facebook will become less interesting and certainly not worth a daily check.