facebookPrinceton University academics have predicted the demise (or at least, the rapid decline) of Facebook in a couple of years’ time.  While I have not read the full study upon which they are basing their opinion, various news reports provide a summary. Facebook was quick to respond with a wonderfully prompt and witty rebuttal.

This has stimulated discussion as to whether users intend to leave Facebook, regardless of what the studies say.

Personally speaking, my answer is ‘No.’

I am quite active on Facebook. That is my first port of call in the social media world. I also use LinkedIn and Twitter. I am present on Google+ but I’d describe myself as pretty much dormant there.

I used to enjoy Foursquare but soon got tired of checking into location after location, despite the initial thrill of being awarded badges. The novelty wore off rather fast. That may also be symptomatic of my demographic as a parent with an engaging career and minimal inclination or ability to flitter around venues to catch up with my Foursquare buddies. Not to mention the security implications. But I digress.

Why do I use one social network more than any of the others (again referring solely to personal use)? Purely for convenience. As time is such a precious resource and there seems so little of it to go round each day, it is easier and more efficient to go where most of my friends hang out.

After all, the prime point of social networks is to communicate with one another, so – when you are strapped for time and want to interact (as opposed to simply pushing out your posts) – it makes sense to do so via the forum with the widest reach.

For a social network to be attractive, you want a meaningful circle of contacts to connect with. You can be a pioneer and spearhead a move to a new network (I was one of the first of my set to try Facebook out). But your longevity there is likely to depend on the tribe you build versus the one at your current haunt.

This is why, despite the aggravations it may have caused along the way, Facebook has retained user loyalty. For each new network you sign up to, you need to establish and maintain a new group of friends all over again. And that is a hassle. An easy import mechanism would change all that; but is unlikely to be forthcoming any time soon.

Am I saying Princeton’s premise is groundless? No!

We are a fickle lot. We get bored. We get disillusioned. We want to explore. We want to be where the crowd is, and even if we are not early adopters, we will gladly follow the shimmering path to the next new shiny thing. Even if we are not the first to test the waters, the pain of refraining or being left behind outweighs the bother of having to start afresh. And as for the next new shiny thing, there is no doubt that the buzzing social media world will provide that.

The ebb and flow of history has shown us that empires die out, no matter how powerful and alluring. And new ones sweep in only to face a similar fate further down the line.  Meanwhile, I’ll keep using Facebook a little while longer.

If you use Facebook as part of your marketing mix as we do here at GFI –  are you worried about the impact a declining Facebook community could have on your business?

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