Guest post: Chris Matyszczyk parses the latest numbers from ComScore on social network activity.
While looking for something that amused me and stopped me from replying to the likeness quiz invitation (and seventy others) from lonely Japanese friends on Facebook, I stumbled upon some numbers from ComScore via Creative Capital.
They seem to suggest that social networking might have suffered something of a peak. Since October, MySpace seems to have lost 3 million unique visitors. And while Facebook's numbers still appear to be going up, they're creeping rather than leaping. Of course, you have to believe in ComScore's numbers, which typically don't match the internal logs.
But for those who have listened to a media presentation or two, as I have, about engagement, the number of minutes spent on a site (some very clever people even try to quantify the emotional level of that engagement) are falling. And not just a little. Average minutes per visitor are down 45 minutes on MySpace from a year ago. And 13.5 minutes since October.
Facebook is enjoying an even greater loss--26 minutes shorter site-sitting by the average visitor. And if you're a Friendster investor looking at these figures, perhaps you might like me to buy you that Bulgarian cabernet.
Of course, advertisers, who have spent a lot of time and an increasing amount of money wondering how they might be able to exploit this new phenomenon, might now be needing a Bulgarian cabernet too.
The trend seemed to be that social networking was an indicator of future behavior, of future commitment to a new medium.
However, it is entirely possible that people are beginning to question just how much time they spend socially networking, rather than socially living.
Maybe it's just seasonal affective disorder, or perhaps, like addicts of controlled substances, karaoke and "Lost," they are simply looking in the mirror and beginning to not like what they see.
It is entirely possible that what once seemed like a fun game is beginning not to be so novel any more. (Wow, that's my fourteenth Slayer invitation today. Wow.)
It is also entirely possible that people are becoming more concerned about losing their jobs and therefore spending less time developing their fabulous alternative personalities in their cubicles.
Yes, perhaps they're having to spend more time sucking up to those who control the layoff list and looking for potential alternatives on Monster.com and CareerBuilder.
I wonder what their numbers look like.