Last week there was a bit of a stir caused in no small part by the following tweet from Rupert Murdoch:
“Look out Facebook! Hours spent participating per member dropping seriously. First really bad sign as seen by crappy MySpace years ago.”
So is this the beginning of the end for Facebook? Or is this just a bit of negativity from the man that acquired MySpace in 2005 for $580m, but sold it for $35m six years later, having done very little to evolve the network, or react to the growing popularity of Facebook?
My vote goes to option two, and a bit of sour grapes from Mr Murdoch. However there has been the odd suggestion that Facebook is starting to fall in popularity, based mainly on engagement figures, but this seems far from being a major concern for the all powerful social network.
The story goes that younger internet users are being lured away by mobile sharing apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, or Instagram, which has 100 million monthly users and was of course acquired by Facebook last year.
This angle is supported by the wider feeling that niche social networks are gaining in popularity and some users are beginning to move away from the big networks. However, this needs to be put into perspective.
In the US Facebook has 142 million unique visitors a month, down more than 10 million in a year, according to Nielsen. But the company’s figures also show the Facebook app had 99 million unique users from Android and Apple smartphones in March, a rise of 37 million on a year ago.
Measuring users and movement between platforms on Facebook is difficult, as smartphone users are switching their Facebook time to apps.
In October 2012, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the site had reached 1 billion monthly active users, and according to eMarketer, Facebook will make $6.6bn this year, up from $5.1bn in 2012.
Facebook’s move from desktop to mobile has been ongoing for sometime and; after Google, Facebook is now the second-biggest mobile advertising publisher.
Put simply; they get mobile.