A new research paper released by Lee Rainie and his team at PewInternet, examined how users engage with Facebook, and how we might expect usage trends to evolve in 2013.1 The study indicates that 61% of users have at some point taken a voluntary break from the social network, and that 27% plan to reduce their time on Facebook this year. The research is instructive when trying to understand Facebook’s advertising revenue growth potential.
The study presents a few key findings about Facebook’s domestic user base growth potential. Foremost, the study gives us a sense of the fluidity of Facebook’s user base in the United States. PewInternet pegged the user base attrition rate at 20%, where users deleted an account they previously held. Concurrently, 8% of US online adults who do not currently have a Facebook account claimed to be interested in joining the social network.
PewInternet also presented findings that illustrate for how long Facebook’s users intended to utilize the social network in 2013. Among 18-29 year old users, only 1% intended to increase their current amount of site usage. 61% anticipated to maintain their current level of usage, while 38% intended to reduce their time spent on the site. Users in the 30-49 year old, and 50+ year old brackets indicated similar intentions.
PewInternet also attempted to analyze shifts in the perceived value that Facebook provides its users. The data suggest that Facebook is more important to women than to men. According to its research, 7% of men and 16% of women surveyed assessed Facebook as more important to them in the past year. Concurrently, 9% of men and 16% of women surveyed anticipated spending more on the site in the past year.
Although 59% of users overall indicated Facebook is as important to them as it was a year ago, and that their self-declared usage time on the site has not changed, 28% of users claim the social network has become less important to them than a year ago, and 34% of users claim their amount of time on the site has decreased. Conversely, only 12% of users say Facebook is more important to them, and 13% claims that their time spent has increased.
PewInternet’s survey is instructive because it gives us a sense of how growth in and usage among Facebook’s users might shift in 2013. Although much of the data relies on self-reporting, the research suggests that Facebook’s target markets vis-à-vis advertising may shift toward women and to higher age brackets, which show more optimistic anticipated usage trends. Concurrently, usage amount Facebook’s younger user base segments may decline.
- Coming and Going on Facebook, PewInternet, 2013.