Did you know that Facebook recently celebrated its 10th Birthday?
Where would we be without 10 years of “pokes”, “likes”, and status updates that have kept us riveted regarding the goings-on of people we barely even know?
Probably a whole lot better off, actually. But that’s not the point.
Facebook has certainly changed the way many of us live our lives and connect with friends and family, but I wouldn’t start planning for its 20th celebrations just yet if I were you.
The site that put social networking on the map may have been conceived in a Harvard dorm room, before going on to become one of the biggest success stories in recent history with 1.23 billion active users – but already there are dissenting voices suggesting it won’t see another 10 years.
Astonishingly, researchers at Princeton have even predicted that Facebook will lose 80% of its users within the next three years.
So exactly why is something that’s been so popular for so long being written off so soon, just months after being valued at almost $100 billion?
Here’s why Facebook might just die within five years of now.
1. It has become “boring”
Despite figures showing that 89% of 18 to 24-year-olds in the US used Facebook in November 2013, there is a feeling that Facebook is failing to connect with its younger users.
Digital agency iStrategylabs used Facebook’s own social advertising data to estimate that three million US teenagers had left Facebook in the past three years and an EU-sponsored Global Social Media Impact study concluded that many teenagers felt that it was “basically dead and finished.”
Just like a new toy, Facebook’s honeymoon period can’t have much longer left before people become fed-up with telling everyone what they had for tea last night.
2. Users are losing privacy
This isn’t about the ability to guess someone’s password, hack into their account or post comical status updates. There are actually many more valid reasons (think stalkers, jealous exes or potential employers).
Last year Facebook removed the option to keep your name hidden when people search you. They also forced people to control their privacy settings on a time consuming item-by-item basis.
So the only way to stay anonymous is to block people, alter your name so it doesn’t appear when people search your real one – or, of course, quit Facebook entirely.
3. Rivals are becoming more competitive
With the emergence of other sites such as Instagram (a Facebook off-shoot, yes), Pinterest and the impressive growth of Facebook’s bitter rival Twitter, there are simply more options on offer to social networkers. You never know, even Google+ might catch on one day!
Take Twitter, for example. You’re not restricted to sharing information with people who you are not connected with and you can follow who you like. Imagine going to a party where the only people you could mix with were all your existing friends – that is Facebook.
Remember MySpace? The site which pretty much laid the foundations for social networking as we know it today has simply fallen by the wayside due to the growth of Facebook – and there’s nothing to suggest history can’t repeat itself.
4. The original audience is growing up
Facebook was built for college students. But those students who were the early adopters are grown up now. Some have kids, mortgages and jobs. And even though they might post the odd comment, photo or a video, this group certainly aren’t the avid Facebook users they once were.
Or maybe it’s just that the novelty value isn’t there for the generation that is now growing up with Facebook in the same way as it was for those of us who bought into it wholesale when the concept was new and fresh?
5. Falling revenue
This might seem strange, seeing as Facebook is currently one of the most highly valued companies in the world. But despite all the impressive figures, it just isn’t a very effective money maker in the long-term.
The company generated $3.7 billion in advertising revenue in 2011. A tidy sum, yes. But back then a peak of 845 million people were using Facebook. Based on an average of 700 million users over a 12 month period, that’s just over $5 per user per year. But should that number of users fall considerably (as predicted) this figure will drop like a stone. And remember, that’s revenue, not profit.
Ask yourself this; when was the last time you clicked on a Facebook advert?
Facebook may well be the social number one for now but, just like any fad, nothing lasts forever.