With all the negative press about Facebook and its potential negative impacts on civil discourse, and society more broadly, have you changed the way you use the platform?
According to a new report from Pew Research, many people have - 42% of the 4,600 respondents included in the survey indicated that they’ve taken a break from checking Facebook for a period of several weeks or more within the last 12 months, while 26% said that they’d deleted the Facebook app altogether in response to concerns.
Those findings are at least somewhat reflected in Facebook’s own official usage stats, which showed a decline in active European users in the most recent quarter, and flat usage in North America.
Such trends are obviously a significant concern for The Social Network, which has rolled out a range of new privacy tools and transparency updates, as well as running TV ads to reassure users that they are taking action.
Pew also notes that 54% of Facebook users aged 18 and older have adjusted their privacy settings in the past 12 months.
“All told, some 74% of Facebook users say they have taken at least one of these three actions in the past year.”
Of course, many of the users who have switched off or reduced their time spent on Facebook haven’t stopped using social media altogether. Instagram has seen continued growth, which would largely align with the Facebook declines, while Messenger also continues to expand. Given this, overall, Facebook largely wins out either way. But still, Facebook itself is the company’s chief money-maker, its where they’ve built their business. They can’t afford to have users turning away en masse.
The latest findings are likely not overly surprising to most within the sector, but they do provide a new perspective on shifting market trends, and likely where your attention should be. That’s not to say brands and social media marketers should necessarily give Facebook less focus, but it does underline the need to diversify, to expand your social efforts along with new usage habits to ensure that you’re active where you can meet audience attention.
Really, it shows that the way many people use Facebook is changing. The platform remains a key channel, but it's also getting less priority - you check in to see what’s happening, but you’re more likely to be actively engaging and checking on new trends elsewhere.
Individual audiences will vary, but it’s worth taking into account the latest Facebook notes, and considering how they apply to your efforts.