Mar 042013
the global traffic map of social media service Facebook

Are we getting sick of Facebook? Tech magazine CNet stirred up the interwebs on the weekend with the claim that Teenagers are Tiring of Facebook  a meme was pushed by the New York Times’ Nick Bilton dissecting his experience with the service.

It’s not just teenagers moving away from social media sites though, many adults are getting sick of intrusive adverts and promoted posts getting in the way of the news about family and friends.

As an example, here are the ads taken off the page of one fifty year old woman’s feed.

facebook-advertisements-sponsored-ad facebook-advertisements-inline-ad facebook-advertisements-banner

“I find these offensive” she says, “I’ve been posting my results from a fitness program and now my Facebook page is plastered with ugly weight loss advertisements.”

Clearly the targeted advertisements are working too well and clumsy marketers are destroying the user experience with ugly and offensive ads.

Not that those ads are working as Nick Bilton found when he decided to promote a post to his 400,000 followers.

From the four columns I shared in January, I have averaged 30 likes and two shares a post. Some attract as few as 11 likes. Photo interaction has plummeted, too. A year ago, pictures would receive thousands of likes each; now, they average 100. I checked the feeds of other tech bloggers, including MG Siegler of TechCrunch and reporters from The New York Times, and the same drop has occurred.

When he decided to advertise, his engagement went up by ten times. Leading Nick to conclude that Facebook were suppressing his unpaid posts while pushing the one’s he pays to promote.

Even for advertisers, a few hundred likes doesn’t translate into much of a return.

That suppression of useful posts is one of the reasons teenagers are moving, one 17 year old I asked about why he’s moved from Facebook said the ads cluttered up his feed.

Which leads us to the reason why people use Facebook – they use it to talk to friends and relatives; not to watch ads.

It took commercial radio and television a decade to figure out the right mix of advertisements and contents, a balance that is still tested today. Social media sites are going to have to get that mix right soon.

Facebook has the most at stake and their time is running out.

  5 Responses to “Facebook’s struggle to stay relevant”

  1. Exactly! I was just thinking Facebook used to be ABCtv now it is Channel 10!
    Althought I feel that there a whole new wave of users who are used to that noise and probably think it adds to he experience. (not me I assure you)
    I’ve been heading to Google+ more often to avoid the Facebook advertising onslaught and sponsored status updates.

    • I like the idea of Google+ being the Channel Ten of social media. I wonder what would happen if Lachlan Murdoch and Gina Rinehart bought it.

      Google+ is an interesting beast. While it hasn’t the user engagement which Facebook has, Google has a much broader game plan with social media and “identity management” which makes the privacy considerations are far broader.

  2. I’ve always accepted ‘free’ websites to have an area where they place their ads which brings in the money. But when FB started placing ads within my stream I got quite annoyed. I marked every single one of them as ‘spam’ using the dropdown at the top-right of a post. After a couple of days doing this rigorously these in-stream ads disappeared again. Seems the system does take those spam-reports of ads seriously (against my expectation)

  3. Think this might interest you – ‘It’s Time to Re-Invent Advertising’ article under Seven lines of it says “Content is today’s currency in marketing and communications. And context dictates how that currency gets spent.And the reality is—nobody has perfected the content model yet—it’s still an open playing field. The advertising industry has it’s own problems. It may have, in some cases strong chops in creative and in other cases it’s perfected the slicing and dicing of data especially tied to demographics. But when you break down most advertising at the core—you begin to uncover this dirty little secret. ” Additionally, it’s got marketing where search, social & apps combine – it’s all under the slideshare.

    Further with regards to your blog above which is taken mostly from ‘Adapt to Survive’ section at the bottom of this article:
    Ultimately, the day of the overshare may have passed, and bragging online isn’t as fun as it used to be. “I think that kids just don’t care anymore,” Bois wrote. “They have gotten over the idea of knowing everybody’s life and everybody knowing their lives!” Fortunately for Facebook, it has become adept at reshaping itself whenever a new tech trend emerges, like peer-to-peer messaging. “Facebook has been particularly agile about following how people are using it and trying to anticipate what will keep people using it,” Portwood-Stacer says. The company has sculpted its messaging platform into the most functional and useful cross-platform communication service, which most teens admit that they use, and has even added free calling to its Messenger app. Facebook is still on the way up as a pure communication utility. It has also taken steps to decrease the amount of Open Graph “spam” users receive in response to criticism.


    “I don’t actually think Facebook itself is stale,” Portwood-Stacer says. “It’s all about changing things up on you when they roll out some new feature… It is more socially stale, if that makes sense.” Today, it’s just not as cool to post pictures of yourself online, no matter which social network you use — unless you’re taking “selfies” ironically, of course.

    Lastly is Facebook fading? Maybe in US but not in Brazil (so overall, Facebook maybe declining in some while not in others-just like any product including social media) and that article is Brazil, Facebook, Twitter Battle For Ad Dollars As Social Land Grab Heats Up

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