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Facebook May Lose Half Its Membership Base (and change Social Marketing forever)
Posted on July 27th 2011
Informal polls are a little like taking headcount back at school, you think you counted in everybody but you are not completely sure and some may have been counted at least twice as they moved in and out of your field of vision.
A poll taken by a computer mag indicated that customer dissatisfaction with Facebook is at such an all-time high that up to 50% might be willing to abandon the world’s favourite social network. Now, I don’t think that will happen. For a start Google+ is still in Beta and by invitation only so its growth is still controlled. Second, responders to the poll were readers of a computer magazine and therefore a little more techno-versed than average which makes them ideal early adopters of Google+.
Still the fact remains that Facebook has consistently been taking potshots at its own foot refusing to learn from its mistakes and is still locked in reaction mode to Google’s launch of Google+. So it is not inconceivable that it might go the way of MySpace and become another footnote in the history of online communities which fell out of favour with the public.
Social media marketing is still new enough for us to be working things out as we go along and social media marketers are learning lessons on the fly, operating in an arena with the stability of a tripod:
1. Popularity is no guarantee of performance. Facebook may be the world’s current most popular social hangout but it is still proving a challenging market to crack in terms of consistency of results.
2. Loyalty is a myth. Like banks and supermarket chains discovered in real life, the public is notoriously fickle, using whichever service gives them the most of what they want in a particular moment in time.
3. Competition is good. Facebook, Twitter and now Google+ create a three-way dynamic which offers constant updates in functionality and provides an attractive forum for potentially engaging the online social media crowd through innovations in the medium.
Should any of these three forces change like they would should Facebook suddenly fall out of favour, Twitter disappears or Google+ ‘wins’ the war and becomes the centre of the social media universe, then social media will suffer as a result and social media marketing will become an entirely different ball game.
Facebook, very recently, reached the 750 million mark in its membership which, representing a tenth of the world’s population - a milestone of sorts. When you are that big you certainly do not give up without a fight but Google is neither a fresh upstart nor a company that does not get the web. It understands core user concerns, learns fast from every mistake it makes and does nothing without a plan. If Facebook is serious about turning back the tide of its fortune it will have to do a lot better than rely upon customer loyalty and size.