social networking

Is Facebook on the Decline?

facebook US traffic
Written by Paul Steinbrueck

Inside Facebook released a report Monday showing that while Facebook continues to grow worldwide, it’s popularity in the U.S. and other “early adopter countries” may be waning.

facebook US traffic

Worldwide they say Facebook was up 5 million users in May, but their data shows U.S. users falling from 155.2 million in April to 149.4 million in May, a whopping 6 million person decrease. Inside Facebook is careful to state that these numbers come from Facebook’s ad tool and is not an official Facebook report. They also go to great lengths in comparing their numbers to those of companies like comScore and Compete.

The slew of reports don’t all agree – some are up, some are down. It’s also important to note that one month can always be an anomaly. It’s better to look at the broader trend over many months. Looking over many months, though, it’s clear that Facebook’s growth in the U.S. has slowed in 2011.

Inside Facebook is also reporting declines in Facebook users in Britain, Norway, and Russia as well.

My Take

In my opinion, the newness of Facebook has definitely worn off for most people. It’s definitely not the shiny new toy it was a couple of years ago. I still check Facebook several times a day, but it’s not some place I hang out. I scan updates for interesting links and meaningful updates from friends and respond as quickly as I can. Get in, get out, move on. And I’m certainly noticing more Facebook friends going days or weeks without posting any updates.

While some people seem to think Twitter is the new Facebook, I don’t see it. Twitter’s growth has slowed too, unless you count the millions of phony, auto-posting spam accounts created every month.

This is nothing out of the ordinary or unexpected, though. Every technology reaches its saturation point where it runs out of room to grow. Personal Facebook use seems to have reached that point in the U.S.

The area where I still see growth, though, is in churches, non-profits and businesses. Larger and more tech-savvy organizations have been using Facebook (and Twitter) for a while now, but lots of smaller organizations and new organizations are  embracing social media every month.

Your Take

What are your observations from your own use of Facebook and that of your friends? Is Facebook losing some of its luster? If so, why do you think that is? Are people moving to other social networks? Other online activities? Or something else entirely?

About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.


  • I wonder if some of the drop can be attributed to alternate or "gaming" accounts not being used? My personal use has become similar to my email use, as a matter of fact I check it and my email at the same time. Check it once in the morning, sometime mid-day and then once in the evening.

    For me, Facebook is still strictly friends and family. I use LinkedIn to connect with people I know professionally or casually. This makes me a difficult person for organizations to market to on Facebook.

    I'll be interested to see if organizations can really find a meaningful way to utilize Facebook or Facebook can find a way to help me efficiently organize the information coming in. Right now I avoid almost all organizations on FB simply because their posts just add to the noise I have to filter through to see what my friends are doing. The couple churches and ministries I follow on FB I could just as easily keep track of through the emails they send out, the newsletters they send out, and checking their website.

  • I am thinking that could be possible. I am working with a Christian Publishing company, so I created a Facebook page for them and used my information since I am the contact person and I started to help promote their page. Out of the blue Facebook disabled their account saying they needed to authenticate my identity before they will re activate their account. I can easily see Facebook declining if they keep doing things like this to other people and companies without any warning. I still have no idea on how long this will take to fix? it has been 3-4 days now and I don't know where I stand.

    • Wow, I've never heard of that happening before. I hope you get things worked out quickly. I you remember, post an update when it does get resolved. I'm curious to hear how long it takes and what FB says about it.

  • Facebook is on the decline because of technostress. Stress from friends who have turned into facebook stalkers and who also get their feelings hurt if you don't respond immediately to their posts. I had a friend recently calling me crying because I did not answer her post. Ridiculous!

  • If there is a true FaceBook use decline in the US, it's probably deeper than a "newness factor" wearing off. I had a Facebook profile a couple of years ago, and got rid of it when too many, well, cyber-creepy things started happening. (It was very difficult to kill – month after month I'd get an email that someone had posted on my supposedly nonexistent wall, and I'd have to delete the account again.) After going FaceBook-free for a year, friends convinced me to give it another try, and after a fun few months, the downside overtook the upside and I've killed it again. I also suspect that many underage users' parents have discovered FaceBook's potential downside (or the very existence of a child's account), and have taken the appropriate steps. IMHO.

  • I hardly use FB these days as apposed to when I first signed up back in 2009. I've also seen a noticeable decrease this past year in use by most all in my friends network. I think the biggest reason for this decline in use is that FB has become increasingly more complicated than it needs to be with each new version. Information overload is occurring with all the status updates, etc. Most of this information is not even relevant. Something that was once new and exciting has become boring, mundane and even tedious to keep up with. All the "likes", "tags", messages, IMs and group posts that hit your homepage on fb these days is surreal. It's not about reestablishing contact with old friends and family anymore. FB has become what people hated about MySpace… and so, the end is coming for FB too.

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