Facebook has a lot of shareholders, users, consumers, advertisers and financial analysts looking at it. Everybody has a different interest in the social networking giant. Your interest might be ensuring that you have a place to share your updates or get information. Another person’s interest may be that they paid $42 for Facebook stock and the stock stuck at $32. Regardless of your particular interest, one key element that all observers should be looking at is the amount of sharing on Facebook. Information sharing is the bread and butter of Facebook, both as a service and as a platform. People go to Facebook primarily to share updates, to find updates that are shared by other people and to trade information.
If the volume of shares for some reason declined in the future, this is a big red flag for all stake holders in Facebook. Think of it as the pulse of Facebook. You want a healthy pulse. The more shares, the more robust the sharing levels are on Facebook and the better for stake holders. Unfortunately, a recent Pacific Crest consumer survey indicates that although the level of consumer usage of Facebook is holding steady, the visitors are sharing less information. This goes against the assumption of no other than Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg who said that as more people use Facebook, the more that they would be sharing links and disclosing their status and otherwise sharing information. The Pacific Crest surveyed 1008 consumers and this was conducted this past June. The survey reported an interesting decline in the percentage of users sharing information. Of the U.S. consumers surveyed, 62% of those consumers that use Facebook log in daily. In fact, this percentage is a little bit better than last year’s figures.
However, the survey report also had a very troubling piece of information. The percentage of survey respondents that share updates regarding themselves fell from 45% to 39%. In fact, 20% of the survey respondents said that they have been posting less and less about themselves in the past six months. Compare this to 12% that said that they have been posting more. If this trend persists, Facebook might be in for a world of hurt. Why? The fixed cost per user accessing Facebook is the same regardless of whether that user is in America where advertisers pay more money for American eyeballs, or in other parts of the world where advertisers are less willing to pay top dollar. The end result is that consumers in “developed economies” end up subsidizing Facebook users in developing economies. See where this is heading? If you throw in lower share volumes into the equation, there would be less page views, less ad views and potentially less revenues down the road. This could all easily turn into a serious financial problem as Facebook’s fixed cost continues to remain steady while their advertising revenue fluctuates downwards. This is definitely an interesting trend. If you are a Facebook shareholder, better hope that this is just a temporary trend and Mark Zuckerberg’s assumption of rising shares per user turn out to be true consistently.