Two thirds of the adult online population in the U.S are Facebook users. This social network is without doubt the most popular network in the U.S. and in many other countries around the world (including Switzerland, where almost half of the online population are Facebook users). However, use of Facebook is not as consistent and strong as the word “popular” would otherwise suggest.
What did the study find out?
The Pew Internet and American Life Project surveyed adults in the U.S. and asked them about their Facebook use habits. Some of the key findings include:
- 61% of current Facebook users say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more.
- 20% of the online adults who do not currently use Facebook say they once used the site but no longer do so.
- 8% of online adults who do not currently use Facebook are interested in becoming Facebook users in the future.
“These data show that people are trying to make new calibrations in their life to accommodate new social tools.”-Lee Rainie, the director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.
As the director suggests above, it is not necessarily about disliking Facebook but more about time. See below top reason for taking Facebook breaks:
There are also indications that the “cool kids” are no longer on Facebook. Additionally, 28% say the site is less important to them now than a year ago, compared with 12% who say it’s more important. As it is to be expected, these news generated quite a few headlines.
After spending so much time and effort on building your Facebook page, should you just focus your efforts elsewhere? No! Those efforts are not wasted. Facebook is not going to disappear anytime soon. If anything, Facebook is clearly becoming a more common everyday aspect of our lives, no longer the “new cool thing.” And that’s to be expected from any platform that grows so fast as Facebook did.
Still, the question is, what do with this knowledge? Just as any good researcher would do, listen to a diverse of sources and gather relevant evidence: data. The key is to listen and monitor what your audience is doing. You might need compare year on year or simply track the activity over a series of months before you draw any conclusions. You Radian6 reports are an excellent way to monitor where conversations are happening. If you are part of The Digital Campus and you have not set these up, please contact us. Read more on monitoring.
Community management is a balancing act. In conversations with Stanford’s former Director of Internet Outreach, Ian Hsu, he often mentioned to me how he would constantly test new tools. And the reason to do that is to understand what users are getting excited about and try to get any insight on how to engage our audience better. This is an inherent part of our jobs as community managers: keep up the engagement with our audience on established platforms while testing out new ones that could make sense in the future (think mobile here).
While flexibility and agility are good elements in an organization’s communication effort, it is also important to be consistent and not swing with fads that come and go. It takes time and effort to build relationships with your audience so think twice before abandoning one tool for another.
So stay alert, experiment with new tools, listen to your audience, and…