According to a blog published by Mashable’s Todd Wasserman, a recent report claims Facebook’s use may be plateuing. What could be causing the most popular social networking company to be stalling? Should businesses abandon the site and adjust their social media strategy? Is this the end of Facebook?
Global Web Index (GWI), the research company responsible for the report, compared Facebook use from July 2009 to June 2011 and found that many interactions have declined in use. To those who quickly glance at the report, it seems that Facebook is going the way of MySpace, but a closer look proves that there are some serious issues with the research used. Global Web Index claims that virtual gifting is down 12.9% in the U.S. in the previously mentioned period, but Facebook closed down their gift function over a year ago.
GWI also claims that in the U.S., instant messaging has declined 7.5% and messaging to friends dropped 14.8%. These two functions have been evolving over the last months and slowly merged, which may have caused the drop in use. The main problem with GWI’s results are that the definitions of what each of the categories represent are undefined, making this report close to meaningless.
It is shocking that Mashable would simply reprint this without checking the facts, as this story clearly needs a deeper dive. Over the past years, Facebook has been a constantly evolving platform allowing its users more social media management options. This consistent change makes monitoring these various trends difficult, so hopefully GWI will print more of their research to explain how they reached their conclusions. Until then, this report should be taken with a grain of salt.