Facebook Traffic Tanks – This can't be real?

81 Comments

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comScore is about to issue September 2007 user engagement and page views data, and it seems like the SVFurby, I mean Facebook unique visitors took a little dip. See the little decline on the red line. I can’t exactly tell how many and how accurate the data is, but it looks like a dip. [digg=http://digg.com/software/Facebook_Traffic_Tanks_This_can_t_benreal]

I just got the spread sheet and there seems to be a 9.3% decline in their unique visitors from 33.75 million in August 2007 to 30.6 million in September 2007. Even their page views are down 3.8% from August 2007. (See chart.) The only company with worse performance: Classmates.com which has filed to go public. Its unique visitors tanked 19.8%.

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Why would that happen to both Facebook ahead of back-to-school season? It just doesn’t make any sense! Unless of course, the unthinkable is happening. I hope to chat with FB tomorrow and get more on this.

Update: In the light of the current data, the recent funding attempts by Facebook become even more important. Kara Swisher is reporting that Yahoo is not quite out of the picture as an investor.

But sources says Yahoo is seriously considering making a major investment in Facebook. Such a move would be bold for the typically cautious Yahoo, which bungled an attempt to buy Facebook entirely for a bit over $1 billion last year (some say $1.6 billion, but I am told the issue had to do with actually reaching a number just over $1 billion).

81 Comments

Drew

Wow, old news release. Facebook is way up on myspace and myspace traffic has been dropping like a rock. The reason is simple and it has nothing to do with facebook being better. It has to do with that myspace has been changing their site to a commercial spam machine. I clicked on a bands song the other day in the rock genre, and some silly rapper ad popped up over the bands avatar. Not to mention, you can’t even lofin 50% of the time, because myspace’s homepage is a commercial collage of ad spam. They have gone extreme overkill for ad saturation and commercial level ad spam, and people have gotten tired of it. I see myspace dropping to 25-30 on alexa over the next year due to this issue alone. not to mention, they have made the site much more difficult to navigate. Frankly, when they kept the site clean, it was better. Now, it is just a bs commerical spam. and to add to it, they have deleted about 30% of the real user base of the site for everything you can think of, which they go to facebook after that and do not come back for more spam.

Chris

Wow, look at all these people’s comments. Seems kind of ironic now with facebook getting more unique visitors then myspace, stupid is as stupid does, or says in this case. I wonder what the future will bring?

Traffic Tactics Team

Naw that’s not right. Are you sure?. I just came from a seminar and we had it both neck to neck in traffic. Maybe it was just a sudden boom thyen but its okay now. In fact, social networking is booming well. I’ve got a free report to show you how.

Marc

How do you like them social graphs?! LOL (sorry)

Well I guess everyone has now seen that all the web metrics services are pretty much in agreement with the dip. To counter the hypothesis posed in comments above about a seasonal dip. The dip for sites happens at the start of summer and picks up at the end of summer when people head back to school and work. This is pretty well documented and known.

The guy from marketing pilgrim is all wet. He’s comparing two completely different charts. One is for ‘total uniques’ vs. ‘market share of US internet visits’ for the previous year. So it’s apples and oranges. Generally speaking most sites have the summer drop-off then pick up in fall. FB and social sites experience a less severe drop-off in summer, thus seeing a market share drop at the end of summer when broad based pick up of the net happens in autumn.

I think this graph speaks volumes. You are looking at a drop in total uniques. Not market share. Not growth. An actual drop in uniques. And a significant one. I think if there is another drop next month, it signals the end of FB growth. And major drops in spec value since marketers are having difficulty finding value in FB.

Nita

All this confuses me, facebook, myspace, orkut or whatever. Why in the world do we need these things?

Ben Perreau

Welcome to comscore. Population 6bn (estimated from a sample size of 56)

Jeff T

Regardless if the drop in traffic is only a back to the books blip on big radar it does raise concern.

As much hype FB is currently generating and especially how it is going to re-create the web as we know it, one has to view the current decline/stagnation in traffic as a major red flag.

FB better take what they can get now, another month like this and…..

Joe Hunkins | Joe Duck

I’m guessing it reflects increase in study time at expense of idle friend surfing, though I always wince at the methodologies used, especially like Alexa’s “measurements” of web activity.

Michael here’s another good opportunity to “prove” Comscore methodology which is disparaged more than it deserves to be.

alexiskold

I do not get why it is surprising. There is a law of diminishing returns or marginal utility in economics.

It was hyped. There is a platform. Its cool. There are people. But its not THAT cool and there are NOT that many people who have time to socialize.

TRT

I should add that FB use would peak over the summer, when college friends/graduates use it as a means to keep in contact with classmates.

TRT

It makes sense if you think about it. Facebook is most popular amoung college students. Everybody graduates from high school and starts looking for schools. Over the summer they start to learn about FB as a way to stay in touch with schoolmates, while others wait until they get to campus to start getting into it.

About a month or so in, some start to realize it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and start to use it less and less.

It made sense as I was writing it.

woome

or, could just be a short term blip that we are over-analyzing. the real proof point on whether there is issue w/FB growth will be next month’s data point.

Jeff Schwartz

imho, trying to predict the endgame at the nascency of social networking/social media is a tad hubristic. We are still at the early stages of major behavioral shifts in culture that encompass the web, media and mobile spheres. Facebook has positioned itself extremely well so far as a provisioner/aggregator of socnet/socmedia services that enable users to connect and converse with each other. They have an early advantage, dominance with youth through positioning with colleges and universities, and adoption by more mature users is growing rapidly. More importantly, to assume that Facebook will remain static in its current state and not evolve–like Google has beyond search, is myopic to the extreme. That said, neither Google nor other heavyweights will cede social networking to FB on a plate. There are so many potential variables in play that it’s impossible to predict the outcome. What happens if Google wins some 700 mhz spectrum? And what about the google phone? What happens if Facebook cuts deals with incumbent mobile carriers and/or media companies. What will the next wave of non-trivial FB applications enable? What’s inevitable is that the consumer will be the ultimate winner in this highly competitive environment and that the next couple of years will be fascinating to both watch and participate in as online services evolve to predict/meet the demands of users by playing on their respective strengths and layering new services/tools over them to retain/attract audience share.

Michael E. Rubin

Ah, the pattern repeats itself.

Step 1 — comScore publishes data.

Step 2 — Well-respected blogger writes about it, questions the data.

Step 3 — Instead of probing the reasons why traffic could dip, commenters instead resort to calling comScore into question (“shaky” and “crap”).

This pattern is also frequently repeated every time Netratings, Quantcast, compete, Hitwise, and others post their numbers.

Folks, stop attacking the measurement companies every time they post data that doesn’t jive with your worldview. Just once I would love to see someone post a comment to the effect of, “Wow, comScore posted data today that didn’t match my expectations. I guess I might have been wrong.” But that would mean admitting error and fault, something most commenters don’t seem to be quite capable of.

…Michael

disclosure: I used to work for comScore and still have friends there.

Andrew Lipsman, comScore

I noticed this thread getting a fair amount of attention and thought I’d weigh in. Last year, there was a similar dip in visitation at Facebook, which suggests there are some seasonal factors at play.

An analogous situation is Google’s monthly search share. Google has been consistently gaining share during the past few years, but each summer it typically experiences a dip as college students go on summer vacation. After that, it continues its upward trajectory, and the same thing might occur with Facebook.

Another important factor that has not been mentioned is that September has 1 fewer day than August. Assuming all other things are equal, there would be approximately 3% less traffic in September just because it has fewer days. So a fair portion of the decline can be explained by that factor.

Always be careful in looking at one month trends, because seasonality can always be an issue. The long term trends are usually the much better gauge of what’s really happening.

buckpost

Who knows, maybe FB is a fad after all. Or maybe, people are just over-Facebooked given the blog and media coverage recently.

Wahoomatt

Facebook apps could be part of the reason. I have had Facebook since 2004, and I loved it and used it all the time. I feel really alienated by all of the pointless clutter and robo-invites that have resulted from introduction of facebook apps. In my opinion, they don’t add any value to the site, they just piss me off.

Bryan

The thing with a million and one facebook apps is that they start to look like spam on the notification tab. I now have a million and one “requests” to throw sheep or stab a vampire or something or other from my friends. And it’s hard for a person like me to outright deny such requests becuz, 1.) I like to leave possibilities open, regardless of whether I’ll actually take care of it and 2.) I don’t want to hurt my app-crazy friends’ feelings. And so these requests rot on my sidebar, reminding me that 1.) I have a deep-seeded problem confronting my own denials and 2.) I am a no-balled people pleaser, and I hate myself for it. Appropriately, I avoid my facebook account, holding out until someone develops an app to wipe away all my facebook-socialability problems. Someone let me know when that happens; maybe that newfangled Stanford GSB class will develop something. I suggest they bone up on social-psycho disorders.

Anyhow, I still have a hard time believing the dip. But if it’s true, well, then I don’t feel as lonely.

techmine

@iamallthatiam:

Yes it is better than Myspace but once you use FB for more than 1 month, you will find that FB sucks as well.

Om should not be surprised. Truth is prevailing here. FB is loosing its “hype”.

Simon

I used to be a heavy FB user but now, not so much. Why? Well nothing seasonal, more the fact that every single day I’m getting stupid notifications about someone trying to do something to me that uses some app that wants all my data before I can install it. Not that I want to install it anyway. I’ve blocked all FB emails now, it’s too hard to distinguish the noise. Adding apps is the biggest mistake they made, and moved them closed to My Space where their strength has always been that with the tightly controlled interface, layout and functionality, they were better than My Space.

Scott

I knew facebook was a lot less popular than myspace but wow!! Those numbers are a big difference. I also didn’t know how popular blogger was haha.
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joelaz

Looks like a Comscore data issue to me. If you drill down into Comscore’s demographic report and compare August to September by age, gender, etc, you’ll notice declines across nearly every demo. I suppose that’s possible, but seems unlikely. I’m guessing either the data is bad or Comscore made a one time adjustment to their tracking definition for FB. For example, they may have excluded a particular sub-domain this month, which would explain dips across all demos. That stuff happens all the time with Comscore… it’s often messy data.

sujamthe

The stats are clearly flawed. Facebook growth dip defies gravity!

Mark: Real facebook users will not leave facebook if an app notification annoys them. They’ll post a wall post to their friend to backoff, uninstall Apps they don’t like or remove the annoying friend.

The early Apps are proof of how its easy to get viral growth for Apps that tap into the social graph with news feed notification.

Many companies have meaningful Apps like Y! Finance or Linkedin App inside facebook, but they haven’t got traction as developers are experimenting with what works intuitively on the F8 platform, this is only the beginning.

tnwake

Well not so long ago nobody knew what FB was (not that they would have been allowed to use it anyways), then out of nowhere it’s open to all and everybody is reporting FB this, FB that, FB apps (for what?!), FB at work (not at a real job), etc.

So lots of people went to check it out (i.e. the increase), realized it was a bunch of hype about yet another social network that helps teens keep in touch and stopped going (i.e. decrease which will most likely continue).

vaspers aka steven e. streight

Facebook is full of exploitive plugins, spammers, and dysfunctionalities.

I have had many problems getting things to work right. I deactivated my account months ago, then yesterday tried to reactivate it, give FB one last chance.

The reactivation link does not work, and my new password does not work.

All we need is Blogger, Twitter, Jaiku, and Pownce.

http://twitter.com/vaspers

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