At the beginning of this month Facebook has announced that they have reached 15 million users in Australia. With the Australian population being nearly 24 million, over 62% of the population are using the social media network each month.
The site is currently the most popular social networking site in Australia, with YouTube coming in a close second. The social media network isn’t only popular in Australia. Now boasting over 1.59 billion monthly users worldwide, Facebook Inc’s other subsidiaries are experiencing similar success with;
- 900 Million Monthly users on WhatsApp (purchased in Feb 2014).
- 800 Million Monthly users on Facebook Messenger.
- 400 Million Monthly users on Instagram (purchased in 2012).
It seems like Facebook is growing from strength to strength. Or is it?
Celebrating its 12th birthday this month, Facebook is one of the few social media networks that have been able to maintain relevance and popularity for as an extended period of time. Facebook’s direct competitor Myspace only had a lifespan of 7 years where they lost over 80% of their users to Facebook. Many industry experts and research professionals now believe the average lifespan of a social media network to be 11 years.
In 2014, Princeton released a study, titled “Epidemiological modelling of online social network dynamics”, which forecasts and compares Facebook’s growth curve to epidemics such as the Bubonic Plague.
The data gathered is based on the number of times Facebook is typed into Google as a search term. Google has previously used the same method and data to accurately predict flu outbreaks across the world, before they became apparent.
The Google Trends charts have shown that Facebook searches peaked in December 2012 and have since begun to drop off.
The authors, John Cannarella and Joshua A. Spechler, claim that “Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models,”
The authors further state that “Ideas are spread through communicative contact between different people who share ideas with each other. When idea creators ultimately lose interest with the idea, they no longer manifest the idea.”
A factor that the study may have failed to consider is that 870 million people use the Facebook app via their smartphones each month, which could explain the drop in Google searches.
With the Princeton report stating that by 2017 80% of its user would diminish, it seems that Facebook has done the impossible by continuing to grow. But predictions aside, only time will tell if Facebook stays with us in it’s current form or if a new player will enter the social media minefield.