US and Canada Facebook Membership Plummets! Why?

By on June 14, 2011

If you’ve been milling around the news networks recently, you would have noticed much hype, dismay and gnashing of collective teeth over the sudden Facebook membership drop in the US and Canada. There has been growing evidence since May, that people addicted to Facebook are becoming – well, less addicted.

Some bloggers in the blogosphere are calling it ‘Facebook Fatigue,’ though the term in itself is as ridiculous as it is impossible to achieve. Facebook never gets old, because there’s always new news from the people that matter most in your life. So what the heck is going on?

The Plummeting Facebook Timeline

Let’s take a closer look at what is causing all this fuss in the first place.

  • May Stats: Membership drops in the US from 155.2 million users to 149.4 million users, marking the first drop in Facebook membership there, ever – reports Inside Facebook.
  • Canada’s Facebook user numbers also dropped to a paltry 16.6 million, down 1.52 million people.
  • Globally, Facebook pulled in 13.9 million users in April, and 11.8 million users in May – a significant decrease in the 20 million+ that has been pouring in over the last year.

The Real Story Behind The Losses

It’s almost amusing to see people running around like headless chickens trying to decipher why Facebook traffic has plummeted. The thing is, it hasn’t – at all. These numbers are based on sign-ups, and on Facebook’s endless race to 1 billion active users. If people are choosing to ‘not’ be a Facebook user anymore, that’s their personal choice.

Maybe a few million people decided to go on holiday for a month, or there were a couple million angry girlfriends that shut down their significant other’s accounts. We can’t be sure of what happened, or why the US and Canada numbers have suddenly teetered off. Many people believe that the drop is due to privacy issues, and Facebook’s incessant updating.

Then there are others that believe people are moving to better platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. If this really is the beginning of a ‘levelling out’ it’s going to take a while for Facebook to stop growing, because of the third world countries that are still catching up to the US. The constant growth has to stop at some point. But it’s nothing to worry about for now.

Even if there are people in the US and Canada that have decided that their lives don’t revolve around Facebook, there are still close to 700 million people that check their accounts all the time. So, is this membership drop unusual? Yes, of course it is. Facebook has been growing like a maniac for the last few years.

Is the drop damaging in any way to marketers on Facebook – nope. Not yet. We’ll have to wait six months to a year to gather more trend data to determine that. In the meantime, while this is big news, no one is really saying what it means yet. And that’s because it doesn’t mean anything. Carry on engaging your community on Facebook, and promoting a lively business presence there – your efforts won’t be wasted!

What do you think about the Facebook membership drop? Leave your comment below!

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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