The Social Network Sky is Falling Run For the Hills!

Peter Kafka has pointed out some pretty depressing numbers about user engagement on social networks across the board. Kafka’s post was based on another post by Business Week’s Spencer Ante who has an early look at the Comscore numbers. While Facebook had fantastic growth in their overall user base, the total amount of time spent on the site decreased month-to-month.

Keep in mind that engagement levels typically drop off in December but many have been noticing the decreased engagement levels of even the most popular applications on Facebook. The bottom line is that overall engagement levels are dropping even though the user base is increasing, suggesting that users are simply getting bored. So where are they going? Your guess is as good as mine but perhaps people have decided that their time is better spent actually engaging with people in real-life rather than via social networks. What is the impact on the bottom line? Spencer says it best:

For starters, slowing and/or decling growth will make it harder to generate sales and profit growth from these sites. That will put more pressure on the advertising programs to deliver results. Of course, they could offset the declines through overseas gains. But so far, advertisers have been leary of marketing on social networking sites outside of the U.S.

All eyes will be on the News Corp. earning announcement on Feb. 4 at 4pm. Then we’ll find out how the slowing growth has actually impacted the sales and profit potential of these sites. My hunch is that the numbers won’t be as rosy as the company would like.

Bored users is the last thing we want for social networks. You could have foreseen users getting bored from sheep throwing just as they get bored from novelty items won at a carnival. My hunch is that we are going to see more engaging applications over the next 12 months but then again I’ve been surfing for the golden application for a while now and nothing seems to appear. Where are you spending your time on the web? Are you bored with social networks? Maybe you have gotten bored with the internet as a whole.