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15 Million Users Abandoned Facebook But Should Marketers Be Worried?

By Christine Hazel 11 Mar 2019
15 Million Users Abandoned Facebook But Should Marketers Be Worried?

In the last 2 years, 15 million users in the United States have left Facebook. This was according to “The Infinite Dial 2019,” a report spearheaded by the firm Edison Research. The company surveyed 1,500 United States citizens 12 years old and above. Survey results showed that overall Facebook usage overall has dropped from 67 per cent to 61 per cent within the span of 2 years. Target age segment of 12 to 34 is currently down to 65 million from 82 million in 2017.

Twitter usage is also spiralling downward from 23 per cent in 2017 to 19 per cent this year. In fact, if the findings were any indicator, social media use has been stale since 2016. Around 80 per cent of respondents claimed to have remained social in the last 3 years. Is this supposed to be a negative omen? Experts in social media marketing said that the user decline appears to have no significant impact.

Shifting Platforms

The truth is that no one is leaving social media per se – they’re simply switching to different platforms. While the report declared that Facebook users have declined, another SNS site (Instagram) which is apparently owned by Facebook is on the rise.

Compared to Facebook, however, Instagram’s audience reach is still somewhat lower than Facebook’s. On the brighter side, the survey by Edison’s discovered that Instagram usage grew from 34 per cent in 2017 to 39 per cent at present.

Ageing Users

CEO of online marketing firm MuteSix, Steve Weiss, begged to disagree. He said Facebook users are not abandoning the social network. But Facebook does have an ageing user base which can account for the decline.

Weiss said:

While the younger demographics may be shifting to Instagram and Snapchat, Facebook is also seeing increased gains from the 55+ segment.

Per Edison’s report, the only users Facebook gained since 2017 were the 55+ age segment.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO of SMM data tracker Socialbakers, said his company could not provide enough information in connection with Facebook user gains and losses. 

Ben-Itzhak said that Facebook reported an increase in the fourth quarter of last year. Twitter, on one hand, stopped reporting on users. This could imply a lack of user growth.

Facebook vs. Instagram

Drug Agency content strategist Ben Heiser concurs with Weiss in the Facebook versus Instagram user growth issue.

He said:

Everyone likes to take shots at Facebook usage being down as the end of social media as we know it, but social media is more of a media channel now than ever before.

He added that Facebook has international influence and active users are simply moving to Facebook-owned Instagram. Because surveys tend to skew perception, the 15 million loss in Facebook users was simply a misunderstanding. Looking at real numbers, however, instead of survey results, Facebook’s total user count is still at 1.52 billion daily active users. This was based on data gathered in Q4 last year. And there seemed to be an increase of 9 per cent year-over-year in its usage.

Does Facebook Still Deliver?

There is no clear answer to this question. It basically depends on your standpoint as a business or marketer. Or how you use the social media platform in the first place.

In certain quarters, Facebook advertising still delivers to some extent. Weiss said that despite user decline, his ad agency was not severely affected. He was convinced of the conversion power of Facebook’s Stories ad product, which recently rolled out. He believed this will be a driving force in the world of online advertising.

According to Weiss:

With Facebook’s continued investment in analytics across all its platforms, we also expect to see advanced engagement metrics for Stories, which will ultimately boost bottom-line revenue for Facebook.

What About Instagram?

Simultaneously and not to be outdone, revenue from Instagram advertising revenue will continue to surge. Story ads have helped increase conversion rates for this social media platform.

Weiss said that advertising revenues on Instagram’s Stories may see more increase. Studies show that brands’ IG stories can have higher ad recall and click-throughs than ads posted on feeds.

Why Should We Care About User Gains and Losses?

While the Edison Research did show us the right statistics, losing 15 million Facebook users may not be a big deal on a grander scale. The social network has 1.5 billion daily active users after all. And as per recent reports, Instagram advertisers are winning. Either way (whether you’re loyal to Facebook or Instagram), it’s still money in Facebook’s pocket. They own Instagram anyway.

Overall, marketers should move forward with a grain of salt. At best, focus on social media strategy based on your audience needs.

Heiser said that if you intend to use social media, you should be objective. Choose a platform that your target market engages with the most. It could be Facebook, Instagram or elsewhere. Regardless, go where you can find your audience.

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