Good news on the unemployment front will only help Facebook’s upcoming initial public offering, as more people will spend time on the social network on the job.
Randall W. Forsyth of Barron’s believes that a major part of the reason for Facebook’s growth to some 845 million members was the fact that its growth period coincided with a period of excessive unemployment in the U.S., and that once the country’s job situation stabilizes, people will be working and not have time to devote to the social network.
Forsyth probably hasn’t seen the statistics we have about how usage of Facebook peaks during conventional office hours, suggesting that people actually spend more time using the social network while working, instead of the other way around.
About the only bad news in the employment report was for Facebook. It can’t be a coincidence that its roster of users swelled to over 800 million worldwide during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, as joblessness swelled and, with it, free time to spend on Facebook. And in the U.S., jobs are growing in manufacturing and construction, where few people sit in front of PCs, while shrinking in information, finance, and government, where most everybody does.
So, as Facebook users go back to work, they will have less time to update their pages and peer at those of others. And fewer office jobs also means less time goofing off at work looking at Facebook (which is broken up by watching videos on YouTube.) And folks who are employed and have a few bucks in their pockets might actually get out and have what used to be called a social life, as opposed to social networking. “Friend” might once again be a noun, rather than a verb. It could happen.
Indeed, recent reports, including this one from firewall provider Palo Alto Networks, suggest that Facebook usage at work is rising.
And even for those industries mentioned by Forsyth where constant computer use is not required, mobile usage of Facebook has been expanding at a rapid clip.
Still, he makes some good points, and only time will tell if the nation’s unemployment rate affects Facebook use in any way. Readers: What do you think?