retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Marketwatch reports that "the number of Americans using Facebook fell by nearly 1.4 million in early December, according to new data from social media monitoring company SocialBakers. While Facebook has more than 167 million users in the U.S. and 1 billion worldwide, the recent drop in monthly active users is still akin to losing the entire population of San Antonio, Texas."

Yikes. Now, that's what I call an Eye-Opener.

Some say that new revenue and advertising models being tested by Facebook may be testing the patience of some of its users, leading them to try other social media options. Others suggest that given the rate of Facebook's ascent, a leveling off was inevitable.

I think both may be true.

Here's my "cranky old guy" take on the situation, which I need to put in context - I think that social media is incredibly important and will remain so, as new companies find innovative ways to connect people and ideas. So I'm hardly predicting the demise of social media.

But ... I do think there may come a point at which people will stop documenting every moment of their lives, and accept the notion that not everything they and their children do is worthy of media coverage. There is a kind of narcissism about some posts on sites like Facebook that I find amusing on those days when I actually read them. (I am a casual Facebook and Twitter user ... I post MNB's headlines there daily, I scan postings occasionally, but quite frankly, I have other things to read and do.) And I say this with some level of irony, since I've spent the last eleven years mining my personal life for anecdotes that I can use to illustrate business lessons. But I like to think I know where the line is. (My wife and kids may disagree.)

So I'm not wildly surprised that Facebook is seeing some usage decline. I understand that Facebook needs to find ways to make money, but it also has to be sensitive about its users. And maybe, just maybe, it has crossed that line...

It is a lesson about which every retailer and marketer needs to think.
KC's View: