81 thoughts on “Facebook Traffic Tanks – This can't be real?”

  1. Thanks 🙂

    I hope we get a chance to meetup in vegas – You are one of the people I would love to get a chance to chat with.

  2. I am not THAT surprised by this. Lots of FB users love it for its ability to reconnect with old friends. When they first sign up…they’re addicted. But most of my friends have cooled afterwards.

    They still use it. They just aren’t addicted anymore :-).

    I bet amongst adult users the #’s of new-sign-ups are increasing, and overall use amongst these folks goes down once they’ve have had a month or so to reconnect.

  3. My guess (and that’s what it is) is high school kids back to school – no hanging out at mom and dad’s pc during the day, and competing for the time at night.

  4. Now Om you’re probably just being an FB hater because of how insufferable the valley can be about the thing of the moment.

    As I discuss on my blog relying on comscore is a bit dicey – you know as a publisher as well as anyone that comscore’s numbers are typically crap. Anyway – Alexa – another flawed toolbar tracking service – shows no such sept. decline – I put the graph in the post. Dave Morin of FB, at our mutual friend’s Dave McClure’s conf this week, showed their sept. traffic numbers and it showed no such decline. Food for thought.


    @Allen – that is one funny post.

  5. Actually, it’s easily explainable.

    As college freshmen, recently accepted students are looking to bond with new classmates – especially having returned from orientation. This is almost wholly facilitated through facebook, as no other service provides a intra-collegiate framework for the social anticipation.

    In addition, many facebook users are school students, whether in highschool or college, and as the summer draws to a close they’re connecting with those they met over the summer and more importantly, posting pictures of what they’d done during the break.

    As school starts, both of these major usages will draw to a close – hence the ‘dip.’

  6. I’m not surprised by this either, but I think there is another unspoken reason that no one seems to be picking up on.
    Facebook’s users were always a bit up-market and less techy than MySpace’s or other sites. The opening up of the App-Factory on Facebook has created a lot of buzz among avid fans of Facebook but also a lot of clutter on the site, which I think turns off the casual user (and many of Facebook’s 30 mm users are casual). I’ve heard a number of my friends, who previously used Facebook for a lot of their communications with friends tune out and express disgust with the number of mindless apps that are crowding up their “walls” and pages. I don’t know how many times someone can “throw a sheep” at me until it ceases to become funny and marginally beneficial to me as a user.

    There is a trade-off between marginal benefit of an app and marginal cost (of annoyance or wasted time) and I think some of FB’s users are displaying their distaste of that marginal cost.

  7. I find facebook interface to be ugly and not very intuitive and I HATE the ugly popup flashy tacky adds. The Advertising is TACKY.
    It is also not the easiest thing to navigate and in many aspects the logic is convoluted.
    Looks bad, stale square, like and old PC-AT with windows 98 now a brick that holds open a door. I run facebook on my MAC, it makes my MAC look bad IMO.

  8. I agree with the furby example. Facebook should have exited when it was at the $10B valuation rumors. With myspace releasing the open API’s soon, Facebook switch is just 1-click away. I give Facebook 10 more months before it chokes.

  9. This has got to be fake data. I’m getting 5-6 friend requests a day still. Facebook is taking over the market as fast as Google took over search. This time next year MySpace and Bebo will be almost dead. It is now Facebooks to loose and they don’t seem to be doing anything wrong except maybee taking the money and running.

  10. I propose that the dip is a leading indicator of the business going ex-growth. The newbies (“200,000” users per day WSJ 25Sep) generate lots of initial traffic, “oh I haven’t been in touch with Bob in years” say each newbie brings others 1-6 month old newbies back on-site to check out the connection. However once a person’s network has “got” facebook, then the traffic tails off. The dip of around 3m uniques is just due to this setup phase of facebook usage tailing off and settling down to the hardcore usage level.

  11. Could it not be the case that some of the page impressions were not registered in a recent fb upgrade? The other thing that may have happened (though unlikely) is that a certain eco-system of people have now been fished out, and the system is waiting to connect to the rest of the population. BTW: was giving a talk at a local university two days ago, and I asked for a show of hands as to what social network they were on. 33% bebo, 33% myspace, 33% fb. I asked why was member of multiple networks (none!); who was planning on moving to facebook (none!). I have to tell you, I was a little shocked.

  12. What seems to be missing from this (summary of a) report is an indication of the error bar/uncertainty in the results. I imagine more information will be available in the full report though. In any case, I would not be surprised if errors were in the order of 9-10%, which in turn would mean that this dip is not of significance. On the other hand, if their statistical sample is adequate, errors could go down to 5% or less, indicating a significant decrease.

  13. Many corporates have blocked Facebook. http://www.sophos.com/pressoffice/news/articles/2007/08/block-facebook.html

    There were many articles in late August / early September about companies blocking Facebook due to it’s alleged productivity drain. It would be interesting to check with the filter companies to find out when FB was added.

    I think this points to a wider issue that many potentially useful tools are being blocked in corporate environments as they are perceived as gimmicks (as Email was when it first appeared).

    Wait 10-15? years until the current students hold the top management positions and see what their reaction is to the latest “gimmick”. Hopefully they will be more flexible. User education may be more beneficial to a company than user control.

  14. 2 comments: i) your headline says “TANK”, but you clear label it as a “dip” in your piece; that seems a bit sensational, and misleading; ii) monthly dips like this at facebook (as reported by comscore) have happened before and have proven to be nothing but noise in the long-term trend. and, i could go on all day about the issues w/ comscore. also, eventually the # of uniques matters much less than engagement and monetization, so i wouldnt spend too much time worrying.

  15. Could it also be students (College especially) realizing that it’s time to get serious about academics and swear off FB for a while? And don’t forget High School students typically don’t have always-on and always-accessible wireless broadband in their schools. This may just appear to be seasonal traffic – if older reports exist, it should be easy to spot, and simple trends may pop-out (fall, winter, spring break, summer, finals, etc.). Call it the Web 2.0 version of the business cycle – the Attention Cycle. There’s certainly a pattern of attention and consumption.

  16. We’re sick of Facebook. It’s good for stopping in once in awhile to see what friends are doing, but the new applications are just annoying and intrusive

  17. I’m a grad student and an FB user, and my my usage has taken a dip. Its due to my workload and class schedule more than anything. I still find FB useful though, and I access it more on a weekly basis than on a daily basis.
    Generally, right about this time is when classes in the Fall semester start ramping up on workload, so I’m not surprised to see this dip, considering FB has a lot of student population.

  18. Tim Glenn,

    Thank you for saying that. It is my suspicion. I still would wait for data from other sources and see how things are going with them. I am sure from a trend indication standpoint, this is not such a good development especially if this repeats itself next month.

  19. I would also chalk it up to ComScore being shaky at best. In the past, Facebook has seen large upswings in traffic due to college kids coming back to school. That may level out in time as the service is both used more in the summer (and as HS kids are now already signed up), but a dip like this would be hard to fathom at this stage.

  20. 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.


  21. 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).

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.
    Check out my site of product reviews and how to’s at
    all reviews are free! So check it out and tell me what you want reviewed, help the free word grow please.

  25. 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.

  26. @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”.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

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

  30. 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.

  31. 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.


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

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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…..

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  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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?

  43. 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.

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