An alarmingly large number of people appear to be stopping their use of Facebork. Well, ‘alarming’ if you are Facebork and looking at short term trends, but probably not ‘alarming’ when measured against the total numbers still infesting the social network and the longer term trends.
Now, there was a time when social networking was Myspace, and so huge was Myspace that nobody could see a replacement ever being needed or how ‘social networking’ could evolve beyond Myspace. Today Myspace is but a shadow of its former self. It is possible that Facebork will, one day, go the same way.
But, I don’t think the time is yet.
Just why an estimated 2 Million UK users left Facebork in the last six months along with the 9 Million US deserting users is a bit of a mystery. Where are they going instead?
Google+ isn’t going to be attractive to most Facebork users, and although Tumblr, and so on, are very healthy, there doesn’t seem to be a ‘land’ the migration is going ‘to’. Unless it’s Instagram.
Maybe Faceborkers are just fed up with being stuck in a room talking to the same few people.
Facebork‘s recent fiddles and changes, including the default security and privacy settings and the increasing exposure to adverts, is making it annoying.
The majority of users have no idea that nobody outside of their small number of ‘friends’ can actually see anything on their timeline. Increasing the number of ‘friends’ is now a risky business. Declare that you don’t know somebody personally or accept an automated Facebork ‘friend’ suggestion, yet get your request rejected by an unwilling potential ‘friendee’ and Facebork can automatically ban a user from logging in, or can limit their activity as a punishment until an appeal court has sat in judgement.
That’s so like saying “D’you wanna piece of yummy chocolate?” and then slapping the hand of anybody reaching for it. In the end, they just ignore your suggestions and don’t try to ‘friend’ anybody.
So, for most Faceborkers, life is stuck in a room with the same number of ‘friends’ growing old together and never finding new blood. And, just like a bunch of people stuck in a Big Brother house together with no new blood, Faceborkers go stir crazy. I think they get bored and frustrated with only having the past to talk about.
As the room becomes more restricted by weird rules and annoying adverts, so the tempers flare.
In contrast, Instagram, which in reality is owned by Facebork, and is quite simply an enhanced photo sharing site like Flickr, is gaining a massive regular user base. Unlike Flickr, Instagram tends not to be for camera nerds, and is aimed at iPhone users, and latterly the much larger Android phone owners, who want to take snaps, faff around with them to make them tediously sepia or stupidly soft focussed, and then upload them ‘somewhere’. Then their mates can come along and make comments or ‘like’ the pictures of the drunken parties or whatever it is that is now there for them to look at for the two seconds of their attention span. Although it can automatically annex photos to Facebork, it’s otherwise very clean and uncluttered, uncomplicated and inviting to use. For now.
Anybody suffocating in the ‘Big Brother house’ of Facebork sees Instragram as a light hearted fun breath of fresh air. I guess Instagram is kinda ‘Facebork Light‘.
But is Instagram enough? And where does Google+ fit into all this?
Well, although Facebork is being made to look more and more like Google+ on both the desktop and the mobile versions, I can’t see Google+ being a place for Faceborkers to migrate to. It is very different. It is geared to discovery and meeting new people, exchanging new ideas, and it really isn’t a bunch of people stuck in a room growing old together. It is simple and easy to use, has very sexy features that Facebork doesn’t, and is, for now, very advertising clean. It won’t suit Faceborkers. However, if they do all get pissed off with Facebork enough then Google+ might end up being their new home by default.
It’ll be quite sad if Google+ takes on too many of the fleeing Faceborkers, although it is probably big enough to happily support the stuck in a Big Brother room requirements of ex-Faceborkers alongside the more altruistic needs of the current users, without the influx being too detrimental to its current user base.
Meanwhile, what will Facebork do in order to win those users back?