One has to wonder if 2012 will be the year that Facebook will cite as the beginning of the end. The social networking giant has already faced what could be gently termed as a disastrous initial public offering (IPO). It also turns out that advertising isn’t all that effective, with word that four out of five Facebook users pretty much ignore the ads on the site.
The latest problem for the social networking giant is that its user numbers appear to be “flatlining.”
comScore, which reports on Facebook’s user numbers, has compiled data from May and held it against data from the previous two months. In May, Facebook had 158.01 million unique visitors in the United States. Similar numbers were posted for April and March.
According to some, that tells us that Facebook is stagnating. By the accounts of some analysts, social media is flat-out rotting if user numbers don’t go up dramatically each month. The notion that growth tops off is never part of the equation, of course.
Facebook’s growth has “matured” in developed markets because almost everyone is already a Facebook user. In other parts of the world, however, the social networking company is still seeing dramatic growth as emerging markets like Brazil join the site.
Time spent on Facebook by each of those 158.01 million unique visitors is growing, which is good news for those advertisers that need users to stay on longer to see more advertisements. This metric has proven to be very valuable in determining the worth of a website and Facebook is by no means suffering here.
The fact is that Facebook’s numbers were always going to slow down somewhat. There is a limit to all things popular, even Facebook, and the company couldn’t just rely on user growth as its endgame. Right now, the company has to figure out how to transform the numbers it does have into revenue to upgrade its fortunes and reverse the decline it’s seen in its fiscal picture since the IPO.
One of the areas that will be concentrated on heavily over the next while is that of mobile. Facebook is banking on its mobile fortunes in a big way and hopes that integrating things like the “Like” button on various mobile apps will keep its name front and centre in the continuing battle for the hearts and minds of consumers everywhere.