Facebook’s popularity is waning—at least in the United States.
The company has dropped from an average of 8.5 billion hits per month to about 4.7 billion. This drop in views could be part of Facebook’s struggles to keep user trust in the wake of data misuse scandals, or part of a larger trend as competition increases and users spend fewer hours in one place.
However, not every web company has seen a drop in usership. Google has fallen off, though it maintains its top spot, but YouTube is on the rise—and could surpass Facebook as the No. 2 website in the U.S.
These findings come from a new study from SimilarWeb, which analyzed the traffic received by the top web companies in the U.S.
The report has many questioning the hierarchy of internet companies and wondering what might be wrong at Facebook. Many PR pros have already shaken up their Facebook strategy as algorithm changes have limited their organic reach.
Should they now invest in another platform, specifically YouTube?
Facebook’s traffic hasn’t just fallen by about half since 2016, according to the study. Among the consequences of such a precipitous drop is the opening it’s given to YouTube, which the study’s data shows is about to overtake Facebook to become the second biggest site, traffic-wise, in the U.S. Which would give Google ownership of the top two spots, pushing Facebook down to number three.
CNBC describes the drop at Facebook as “severe” and goes on to round out its list this way: “The five websites receiving the most traffic in the U.S. in the last several years have been Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo and Amazon, in that order. However, Facebook has seen a severe decline in monthly page visits, from 8.5 billion to 4.7 billion in the last two years, according to the study. Although Facebook’s app traffic has grown, it is not enough to make up for that loss, the study said.”
Though there is also speculation that the U.S. market has passed “peak social media,” the moment where the most time is spent by consumers on a social media platform of any kind.
Snapchat’s parent, of course, reported earnings this week and acknowledged a drop in daily active users for the second quarter compared to the year-ago period. Facebook and Twitter also posted declines during their most recent earnings presentations.
Snap, for its part, blamed shedding users on a much-maligned redesign of the ephemeral messaging app. Facebook and Twitter also blamed the European Union’s new privacy law as part of the reason their numbers are down.
Facebook losing such a large amount of traffic over the last few years is part of a broad realignment in the social media landscape that’s only going to continue, likely with surprising outcomes. It’s also apparently creating buying opportunities.
The report suggests Facebook isn’t all that concerned with its drop in raw users.
The report states:
Yes, visits to the “flagship” website in the U.S. are down, but their entire network continues to grow. Their app usage is large and increasing, and they increasingly find growth from other parts of their portfolio, such as Instagram and Messenger. Users of the Instagram Android app, for example, now average 56 minutes a day on the app, up from 27 minutes a year ago. This transition reflects how Facebook is focused, not just on growth for their main site, but rather on expanding their entire ecosystem.
Here are three takeaways for PR pros from these social media trends:
1. Video continues to grow in importance.
As one of the only social media platforms to show an increase in users in the last couple of years, YouTube demonstrates the importance of high-quality video from organizations and partnerships with creators and influencers. Though it’s still important to post to other channels and cross-promote your content, communicators looking to the future should be adding to their video portfolio and developing their YouTube presence.
See these affordable ideas for adding videos to your content mix.
2. You should be on more than one social media channel.
Though trying to maintain a robust social media presence on every platform is a bad idea, data suggest that you should invest in more than one. Facebook used to dominate the market, but its drop in traffic signals a broadening usership for other platforms.
Identify which social media platforms your audience uses, and develop your presence on those select few.
3. Google and SEO are still essential.
Though YouTube has risen as Facebook has declined, the dominant leader in web traffic by a long shot is Google, the search engine behemoth. This means that how Google reads your content and ranks your website for search is still crucial for an effective online strategy.
How are you going to shift your social media strategy, PR Daily readers?