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.
“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.