Sounding Facebook's death knell

Does the social networking site’s survival matter?

Have you already heard the death knell ring (again) for Facebook? This time around, it started with an article on the Inside Facebook site, remarking on both traffic drops and user numbers dropping in both the US and Canada in May. DONG.

While the article was fair and balanced, and the author was clearly keen to understand the data as part of a bigger picture (overall, Facebook was still adding users globally in May), that didn’t stop excitable commenters and tweeters setting the social sphere alight with inflammatory blogs and commentary with link-baity headlines like “Facebook is dead”. DONG.

A day or so later I found myself at the fro-yo stall in Bristol Temple Meads. “Yeah, apparently people are leaving Facebook in their droves,” the friendly owner told me, “I read about it in The Times.” According to that very same newspaper, frozen yoghurt is the “undisputed It food” du jour, so I’m guessing this bloke has his finger on the pulse. DONG.

Then yesterday, a survey for Marketing revealed that the majority of over 45s are considering leaving Facebook. DONG.

It’s time to silence the bells. Given the time-sapping, privacy-invading, spam-attracting nature of social networks like Facebook, it’s not surprising that a number of users have left the site - numbers have to level off eventually anyway - but with continued penetration and integration with hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of websites worldwide, I can’t see Facebook going anywhere soon.

Regardless whether it survives for a year, a decade or a lifetime, what do companies and brands using Facebook as part of their social media marketing need to bear in mind?
  • It’s still essential to drive fans to your owned media. Whether you’ve integrated social into your web properties or are just experimenting with a Facebook page, traffic needs to go from social networks to your site or sign-up form – not the other way round.

  • Forget about Facebook for a minute. Approach your social media marketing with business and marketing objectives first and channels last. Social networks will come and go – social networking has been around for ever.

  • Finally, don’t get hung up on the next new shiny thing, or obsessed with fan numbers, or distracted by pictures of Mark Zuckerberg’s dog, tempting as it is.