Why Did Facebook Lose 6 Million Members in May?

Why Did Facebook Lose 6 Million Members in May?Facebook is still recording record growth across the world, ready to top out at nearly 700 million users. But in the US and Canada, Facebook is actually starting to lose users. The loss of 6 million members in May 2011 coincides notably with global growth on other social networks, like Twitter and LinkedIn (according to analysis by TechCrunch).

So why is Facebook still growing across the globe yet quickly losing members in North America? Many users of Facebook in North America have been members of Facebook for several years; those who adopted Facebook as part of their college network have graduated college and are now professionals, turning to networks like LinkedIn to network and maintain professional relationships. This may also mean that Facebook is too personal for the college graduate; sharing pictures of body shots and antics from beer runs doesn’t bode well for professional reputations. Once a Facebook profile is on that kind of lock-down, the “fun” of sharing personal details also disappears. Additionally, many people at this point in life are starting to “grow up” in other ways. I remember joking via Twitter several months ago that I thought I missed a memo of a new meme when several of my Facebook friends changed their photos to baby pictures. In reality, many of my friends were just starting to have babies. I don’t care about diapers or play-dates, and realized there just wasn’t much of a shared interest among my 500 Facebook friends anymore. As a result, I personally stopped using Facebook as much.

Regardless of place in life, Facebook users also seem to be flocking to other social networks, like Twitter and LinkedIn, because of the reach these networks provide. One Twitter user explained he uses Twitter more because of its “endless, asymmetric reach.” Facebook does have the potential for virality, but Twitter is designed for unlimited reach via the retweet function. For better or worse, Facebook’s privacy settings inherently limit this type of reach. Additionally, Twitter and LinkedIn are better for finding the latest breaking and trending news. Facebook is great for viral videos, but hot gossip spreads like wildfire on Twitter — as we saw with #Weinergate.

Some users still like specific features of Facebook; Facebook is still the only network that has an integrated chat where you know all of your friends will be, and as I mentioned, it is still easiest to share a viral video on Facebook. For now, people seem to be using both, as features of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are segmented. But will the few features that Facebook offers be enough to keep users in the face of a better Twitter and the uber-professional LinkedIn — especially as Facebook users grow up? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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  • http://www.falgram.com Falmung

    True. I’m starting to lean more away from facebook in favor of twitter. While facebook I can keep in touch with friends I already know, twitter allows me to meet new people with similar interests and search for topics that I’m interested. I’m not a professional yet so Linkedln is still pretty much no use to me. But we’ll see on the future. Facebook is still a big part of my social network but lately I’ve been logging into it less and less.

  • http://www.falgram.com Falmung

    True. I’m starting to lean more away from facebook in favor of twitter. While facebook I can keep in touch with friends I already know, twitter allows me to meet new people with similar interests and search for topics that I’m interested. I’m not a professional yet so Linkedln is still pretty much no use to me. But we’ll see on the future. Facebook is still a big part of my social network but lately I’ve been logging into it less and less.

  • http://twitter.com/naquellaq naquellaq

    I’ve used twitter over facebook for years because so many of my “friends” from school are socially conservative, my family is on facebook and I have “friended” many of my fellow church mates. I think many of my “friends” have blocked my posts to facebook because of their politically liberal rants and the selatious details of others. It’s lots more fun and liberating being my twitter self. I’ve found much more like minded people and socialize and network with others who share my beliefs and my “R” rated twitter me. Facebook is often my PG rated self and twitter is my R rated self.

  • http://twitter.com/naquellaq naquellaq

    I’ve used twitter over facebook for years because so many of my “friends” from school are socially conservative, my family is on facebook and I have “friended” many of my fellow church mates. I think many of my “friends” have blocked my posts to facebook because of their politically liberal rants and the selatious details of others. It’s lots more fun and liberating being my twitter self. I’ve found much more like minded people and socialize and network with others who share my beliefs and my “R” rated twitter me. Facebook is often my PG rated self and twitter is my R rated self.

  • Anonymous

    Welcome to the power of context. At the end of the day, every social network online is going to be like social networks offline. I don’t go hang out with my wine geeks to discuss science fiction :) I like the fact that people are realizing where they want to social network and trying out new networks for different things. I believe we do this naturally as a part of our normal sociological behaviour. This doesn’t mean that Facebook will die, quite opposite, I expect Facebook to continue growing, it’s just going to be for a specific context or grouping or use and we will always see it in a specific way.

    In some ways, the web is turning into how we look at an ipad and an app store, I don’t use one app for everything, but I use a different app for each task but it all links together. Facebook wants to be that app store but it has to overcome the issues of how we as humans view our social groupings. Just my rabid 2 cents.

  • http://twitter.com/dups Dups Wijayawardhana

    Welcome to the power of context. At the end of the day, every social network online is going to be like social networks offline. I don’t go hang out with my wine geeks to discuss science fiction :) I like the fact that people are realizing where they want to social network and trying out new networks for different things. I believe we do this naturally as a part of our normal sociological behaviour. This doesn’t mean that Facebook will die, quite opposite, I expect Facebook to continue growing, it’s just going to be for a specific context or grouping or use and we will always see it in a specific way.

    In some ways, the web is turning into how we look at an ipad and an app store, I don’t use one app for everything, but I use a different app for each task but it all links together. Facebook wants to be that app store but it has to overcome the issues of how we as humans view our social groupings. Just my rabid 2 cents.

  • Anonymous

    FB is fun to begin with but after a while you get bored to read about, e.g. “the sun is up, I like sun” , “I had nice cup of coffee to breakfast”, “My dog had to go to the vet today” and on and on with same tiring comments. Twitter I don´t even understand. Complete meaningless.
    But I can see some use of FB. My club has a FB group and that is a very convenient way to keep in touch and inform each other with things that happens.

  • Anonymous

    FB is fun to begin with but after a while you get bored to read about, e.g. “the sun is up, I like sun” , “I had nice cup of coffee to breakfast”, “My dog had to go to the vet today” and on and on with same tiring comments. Twitter I don´t even understand. Complete meaningless.
    But I can see some use of FB. My club has a FB group and that is a very convenient way to keep in touch and inform each other with things that happens.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQ2IK6LNUHPIG2NSCZI7GJG5SI Phil Osifer

    Maybe it’s the challenge and seeing if there’s anyone else like you as there isn’t enough time to get to know everyone that deep, even relatives. I always think it’s good to keep in touch for when something comes up. People that live far away can have a pen pal like experience. But there is a lot of opinions on things that cause people to not like each other and ruins it. You can’t avoid the family reunion where everyone complains and talks crap because it’s just there. Hard to tell if it’s been worth it or if things were better before. People also get duped into believing things and think they have to repost it and it gets annoying. I seen “I can’t believe people didn’t change their picture” like it’s much more important than doing something real.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQ2IK6LNUHPIG2NSCZI7GJG5SI Phil Osifer

    Maybe it’s the challenge and seeing if there’s anyone else like you as there isn’t enough time to get to know everyone that deep, even relatives. I always think it’s good to keep in touch for when something comes up. People that live far away can have a pen pal like experience. But there is a lot of opinions on things that cause people to not like each other and ruins it. You can’t avoid the family reunion where everyone complains and talks crap because it’s just there. Hard to tell if it’s been worth it or if things were better before. People also get duped into believing things and think they have to repost it and it gets annoying. I seen “I can’t believe people didn’t change their picture” like it’s much more important than doing something real.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQ2IK6LNUHPIG2NSCZI7GJG5SI Phil Osifer

    Maybe it’s the challenge and seeing if there’s anyone else like you as there isn’t enough time to get to know everyone that deep, even relatives. I always think it’s good to keep in touch for when something comes up. People that live far away can have a pen pal like experience. But there is a lot of opinions on things that cause people to not like each other and ruins it. You can’t avoid the family reunion where everyone complains and talks crap because it’s just there. Hard to tell if it’s been worth it or if things were better before. People also get duped into believing things and think they have to repost it and it gets annoying. I seen “I can’t believe people didn’t change their picture” like it’s much more important than doing something real.

  • http://twitter.com/mitch_bartlett Mitch Bartlett

    “Facebook is still the only network that has an integrated chat”
    False. May be the one where all your friends are, but it’s not the only network with integrated chat.

  • http://twitter.com/mitch_bartlett Mitch Bartlett

    “Facebook is still the only network that has an integrated chat”
    False. May be the one where all your friends are, but it’s not the only network with integrated chat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=624000993 Joshua Warren

    Is this a trick question really, they screwed with the overall model of the social network and completely balls up the interface and layout. I’m not surprise they are loosing users. I only use Facebook for chat using my IM client Pidgin in Linux Mint.:)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=624000993 Joshua Warren

    Is this a trick question really, they screwed with the overall model of the social network and completely balls up the interface and layout. I’m not surprise they are loosing users. I only use Facebook for chat using my IM client Pidgin in Linux Mint.:)