There’s no doubt that facebook is an integral part of our lives. Maybe not everybody’s but it is unquestionably a powerful social tool used by the majority rather than the minority; even the 30 something’s amongst us who actually make up the majority of the user base….not the teenagers that Facebook is so often associated with! The question is where Facebook is going. Recent reports suggest that Facebook might have reached its peak and that user numbers are starting to plateau or even decline.
Whilst Google search trends are not going to give us absolute facts regarding site usage they do offer a good indication as to whether a site is growing or not (brand search terms being a key indicator for site visits even for those with an obvious url and high frequency of visits….that’s a whole other blog but we have stats to support it across a vast range of sectors!).
Google trends seem to suggest that Facebook visits plateau in 2010 and intl early 2011 and may now even be in decline. Many of you will instantly dismiss this claim as clearly the increase in smartphone usage will impact on this data as more people use their phones to access the facebook app, but as a potential advertiser that impact is significant as the full screens are used for the app content….not advertising.
Anyway, the point I am getting to is that the growth of Facebook is slowing. Many have already made their bets that Facebook will disappear as quickly as it arrived – making recent investments and subsequent valuations somewhat questionable – but surely that can only happen if a real alternative hits the market…..
Remember Myspace and its dramatic growth? The decline of which occurred pretty quickly after the launch of Facebook. Should Facebook follow a similar pattern of stabilisation before decline then that drop in user numbers should start to happen in around 12 months time, but perhaps it needs a significant competitor.
Ok, so you know where I am going…..Google +
My early experience of Google + is very positive. Unlike so many of their previous failed exercises Google seem to be getting this one right and no doubt they are looking at how people use facebook and hoping to make a better, slicker and more purposeful social media platform.
This might not be the death of Facebook and perhaps my conviction is borne out of my increasing boredom with facebook but either way it certainly seems to be in a vulnerable position for the first time in its short history.
One thing is for sure, Facebook will be doing everything they can to keep new entrants out of the market, develop new directions and improve the appeal of the platform. The problem is, once opinion shifts it’s very difficult to halt the decline.
We are proud to announce a new collaboration with Robot-food, a strategic branding agency in Harrogate.
Committed to growing the business through strategic associations, this is a great new affiliation that will open doors to a new range of potential clients.
The collaboration follows the recent partnership of Boutique and Firecracker UK.
Simon Bollon states “We are focused on increasing our partnerships with the best agencies in the industry. We have followed Robot-food’s work for some time now and their recent witty Jammy Dodger re-brand impressed us immensely.”
“As two privately owned, Yorkshire-based agencies it’s a very exciting time and we look forward to working together.”
The collaboration will see us provide media communications planning and buying services to Robot-food and their range of clients.
Simon Forster of Robot-food said: “The rapid growth of Robot-food is extremely exciting and our collaboration ensures we are part of the process from initial design and branding to the roll out of client’s advertising campaigns.”
Simon recently took part in a charity event for the Forget Me Not Trust. A great evening that raised over £2,000 for the charity!
‘After 168 years, we finally say a sad but proud farewell to our 7.5m readers’ states the News of the World and yes I agree, it is sad…..but strange is perhaps a more pertinent word.
The decision to close the publication seemed like a snap decision taken off the back of mounting criticism and public pressure but all the same, the decision certainly came out of the blue to the media world. Naturally, we all suspect ulterior motives and of course the Sun on Sunday idea is gathering pace with every passing day, making us more cynical that News International are trying to extinguish the public pressure but realise a positive end game.
Love it or hate it – and the circulation figures suggest we love it – the News of The World has grown off our desire to peer into the lives of others. Blame Big Brother, the internet, Simon Cowell or whoever you like, but there is no question that the News of The World were forever trying to feed our hunger to be shocked and stunned by the lives of others. That public desire fed their need for news, even if that meant creating the news themselves and in hindsight I don’t suppose it shocks too many to see how they constantly pushed the boundaries of ethics and privacy.
Of course it’s hard not to imagine that there are other publishing groups sweating nervously waiting for the finger to be pointed in their direction. Was it really only the News of the World in the News International nest of titles? Indeed, was it only News International involved in this phone hacking exercise? Only time will tell. The lack of coverage from the other press titles suggests they lacked the commitment to distance themselves with absolute confidence.
This leads us to the decision of the advertisers to pull out of the News of the World in their droves. It will be interesting to see if the same occurs if other titles are dragged into the murky world of phone hacking. It’s also worth asking why withdraw from the News of the World yet continue advertising with News International where some of those involved are still working, no more prominently than Rebekah Brooks who sits at the very top of the News International tree. If the momentum remains over the whole sorry affair the focus will now surely shift to the wider organisation….something that they risked in closing the title late last week.
So what effect will this have on the market? With circulation over 3m the competitors will be licking their lips (and crossing their fingers) that next Sunday see’s sharp rises in circulations. I wouldn’t expect anything like the 3m purchasers to transfer to other titles but if only a third of the audience buy an alternative that will be a pleasant addition for the likes of The Mirror Group. In reality, the News of the World was so often a secondary title. The 2.5m ABC1 readers is testament to that…..I’m not the only one who walks out of the news agents with the NOW hidden inside the Sunday Times or Telegraph on Sunday! Hence, I wouldn’t expect massive amounts of the readers to transfer.
Many blogs have varied on their opinion regarding how this will impact on the press industry as a whole. Naturally, the digitally driven agencies will be talking up the beginning of the end! In reality we all know that press circulations have been in demise for some time; there’s no new news here. Twitter breaks news, blogs offer opinion and we can consume news from any number of online resources. News International has been a leading player in the shift from printed news to online news consumption. They have stuck with the paywall on the Times against some fierce debate and their willingness to shed their leading circulating press title can only indicate further that they see the future of their organisation as a news broadcaster across the most relevant of formats….notably online (for now!). Is their potential takeover of BSkyB is further evidence of the bigger organisations shift away from printed media?
Sticking with the theme of the long term change in the sector it’s also worth considering how the politicians approach the issue. There is growing pressure for government to increase regulations on the press sector similar to broadcast media where Ofcom rule the roost. In press they have a self fulfilling body called the PCC, which frankly, appears to be failing miserably. Government have long been fearful of applying too much pressure to the press industry because of the power they hold in winning and losing votes. The fascinating question is whether the politicians have greater confidence to control the industry in the wake of falling circulations and in turn, declining influence.
I don’t believe that the press industry is dying. I think it is changing. The declining circulations will plateau and the array of titles may change. There is a clear shift to the free circulation model and the Evening Standard will claim that move has been a success for them. Further, there is a still room for intelligent, knowledgeable and experienced journalism that will keep the industry thriving at best and surviving at worst. There will be a continued shift to the distribution of news via digital platforms but the same organisations that have provided printed news will continue to lead the market and I expect News International to be a leading player in that.
It’s not our position to comment on the ethical and moral debate but suffice to say we are as bewildered and disgusted as the next person over the vast and comprehensive invasion of privacy but sadly, I expect we will be in the same position again at some point in the not too distant future.