A new research report from Activate Inc. says we’re spending much less time on Facebook than we used to.
In 2017, Americans spent 14 hours per month on average on the social media site, and that number had dropped 26% to 9 hours per month in 2019, Activate CEO and cofounder Michael Wolf said today at the Wall Street Journal‘s Tech Live conference in Laguna Beach, California.
Facebook is still way ahead of all its competitors in terms of membership numbers. It has more than 2 billion users worldwide. But the idea that those people are spending less time on the site could mean a lot to big brands that spend hundreds of millions to advertise on Facebook.
Several researchers, including eMarketer, have also tracked the movement of younger users (12-34) away from Facebook and toward services like Instagram (which Facebook owns), Snapchat, and TikTok.
Facebook also has a serious consumer trust issue after misusing private user data and, for years, being less than forthcoming about how it uses personal data in its advertising operation. The government is now looking closely at Facebook and its various businesses and considering reining in the massive company via new regulations. Politicians like Elizabeth Warren have called for the government to break up Facebook.
Wolf said that Facebook won’t be disrupted and defeated by a single, similar company. Rather, a number of smaller and more focused communities will systematically skim off more and more of the time people spend on the general-purpose Facebook social network.
Activate says people in the U.S. now belong to an average of 5.8 social networks, and projects that number will rise to more than 10 social networks by 2023.
Facebook may realize this. The trend toward niche social networks may be one reason the company has been promoting private Facebook groups as a big part of its future.
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.