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Facebook trend report: consumers less influenced, usage slides

As Facebook has gone mainstream, all eyes are on the social media giant, analyzing demographics, use, and public perception of the company.

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Facebook Trends 2012

Facebook times are changing

While some focus on the sliding stock prices of Facebook, others are proclaiming use of the social network is falling across the board. According to a new Reuters poll1 there is some truth to the statement, but there are many more variables that must be taken into account before simply saying use is sliding.

First, the poll was conducted between May 31st and June 4th of this year, asking just over 1,000 Americans about their Facebook use and awareness. Fully 35 percent of Facebook users polled said they are less engaged on the site than they have been in the recent past, contrasted by the 20 percent saying they now spend more time on the social network.

The stat about 35 percent saying they spend less time is spreading like wildfire, inspiring headlines on blogs that are calling for the fall of Facebook, but as with any indicator, a single week does not a trend make. Over the past several years, in the second and fourth quarters of every year, active user counts for Facebook drop dramatically, not just in this single week or quarter, so calling for Facebook’s demise is an ill conceived notion.

Minors on Facebook

What the study found that is universally accepted, however, is that used by and more favored by younger people, particularly current high school students who do not remember a life when Facebook did not exist and are shifting away from texting and toward Facebook use as a substitute.

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According to The Age2, “Facebook is facing criticism from US politicians after reports the company is exploring ways to let children under 13 onto its social network.” Per the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, websites are required to notify parents and obtain their consent before collecting personal data from minors, which is increasingly a concern for minors using Facebook.

Purchases on Facebook

As e-commerce is becoming more prevalent and retailers are being forced into new ways to sell products, many flock to Facebook to advertise due to the perception that all eyes are on the social network, but only one in five users polled say they have ever bought something because of ads or comments they saw in Facebook.

Unfortunately, the poll did not separate out ads versus comments, which are two completely different things, particularly as they influence consumer behavior. It is extremely likely that the small percentage that were influenced by something they saw on Facebook were influenced by comments from peers.

Has Facebook’s IPO damaged perception of the company?

The Reuters poll reports that most have heard of the Facebook IPO but are unfamiliar with any details surrounding the company’s path of going public. Of people who heard about the IPO, 44 percent say it made them less favorable towards Facebook while 46 percent stated that they don’t know how they feel about it. Those odds are not good for a company that was long poised as the underdog, the dorm room startup, the site of the people.

Public perception is shifting and fans are dwindling, but use continues to rise over the years. As the social media giant has gone mainstream, all eyes are on its every move, so as the kids say, haters gonna hate.

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1 Reuters Poll
2 The Age on Facebook’s pre-teen woes

Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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