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Facebook is reportedly planning an IPO that could ask the market to value the company at a whopping $100bn. But are the social network's better days behind it?

That's what some are suggesting following a report by Inside Facebook, which says the company's traffic has dropped in two of its largest and most important countries, the United States and Canada.

Needless to say, Facebook is still one of the internet's most popular sites, and that's not changing any time soon. For marketers, it will clearly continue to attract a significant amount of attention and investment.

But Facebook is no spring chicken, and its days of staggering growth will not last forever. The possibility that the company has already plateaued, or is in slight decline, in the markets that it first entered, would seem real.

The question for marketers: what does this mean?

In the immediate term, nothing. Even if Facebook stops growing in key markets, like the United States, marketers still have ample opportunity to increase the profiles of their presences and campaigns on Facebook.

Obviously, few marketers, if any, can claim that they've fully exploited the opportunities that exist on Facebook.

In fact, the majority haven't yet tapped the surface, so even if Facebook didn't acquire another user in the affected countries, marketers would still have one of the most sizable audiences on the internet to court for years to come barring a mass exodus that seems unlikely.

In the long term, however, signs that Facebook's highest growth days are behind it in important mature markets should serve as a reminder that it isn't the only game in town.

Not only will the marketing landscape on the site become more competitive as growth slows and the network becomes more mature, markets will need to face a new reality: some individuals will leave Facebook.

Here, Facebook may speed the process as it starts looking less and less like a cool place to hang out and more and more like a creepy institution from a George Orwell novel.

Up until now, Facebook's rapid growth has masked the fact that some of the company's users have decided to kick it to the curb. Yes, this number is small thus far, but attrition will eventually become more noticeable.

For marketers, the implication is clear: if you're focusing most or all of your social media investment on Facebook, you won't be able to say you have the channel 'covered' in the coming years.

Patricio Robles

Published 14 June, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Pauline Randall

Pauline Randall, Director at Florizel Media

I've always told clients that they should consider the possibility of Facebook losing its place in the celestial sphere of social media but to also remember that it is too big to ignore at the moment.

As a digital media company, advising clients I think it is an imperative that we keep up to date with the changes in the market. I too cannot see Facebook losing its crown this week or next but the initial adopters may well be looking for a new, cool place to hang out. In addition Facebook really don't seem to be learning the lessons about privacy - yet again with face recognition it's a case of opt everyone in and apologise afterwards. How many more times can they abuse the trust of their users? Sooner or later they will lose their place and there will be new faces at the table.

over 5 years ago

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Clare Brace

So... I guess this means everyone in Canada and USA with an internet connection now has a facebook account?

I'm sure if the age limit was dropped there would be continue to growth for a sustained period again.

I personally don't see any other social sites nipping at facebook's heels that can offer the same level of engagement.

over 5 years ago

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Ed

As a marketer, i prefer Twitter over Facebook (mainly for ease-of-use).

But, i'm also uncomfortable about putting a whole lot of article-like content on FB. For many reasons, mainly, though, because i don't own that content .. With your own site you own your own content, you can more easily stamp your own identity, then the issue of SEO and search marketing, and more (and its becoming easier and cheaper, i think, to create your own website).

Also, Twitter fits in, nicely, with promoting (in non-spammy way) the content on your site, and your own site in general. At least, more than FB, i think.

Sure, in the short to medium term, marketers need to think about FB. But in the long-term, i see Twitter and own website (connected with being found in Google, and search marketing etc ..) winning, at least for marketers.

over 5 years ago

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SEO Limerick

Facebook is overtouted by Marketeers chasing high numbers of "Likes". They all want the biggest number. They'll buy, game, cheat and invite people all day long to get more likes on the grounds it creates "awareness" and "engagement"

How did the person arrive at your site to like you if they didn't already know you? How do you like a box of chocolates if you haven't already tried them? Or is it aspirational (read: hollow)

IF you're on twitter or facebook -> are you not sick of #likespam already?

Do we assume that people need facebook to tell them what to buy? what a laff!

When do you go off and buy an SL500 cos 5 of your friends like them [sic]

over 5 years ago

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unique jewelry

I am a student .I am interested in the world out of school.Maybe it is hard ,but that is my hope.You let me know some .Thank you.

over 5 years ago

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Zuckerberg's Baby

'Tis true, our North American bretheren are tailing off of facebook. Being from there myself, I use it to piss-take old buddies back home and look at pictures of ex-girlfriends (who invariably get hotter after we broke up.) Other than that, the last think I "Liked" was probably about 2 years ago!

over 5 years ago

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mehdi

i have never clicked on a facebook ad!

am i the only one?

over 5 years ago

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Tom Eldridge, Senior Digital Strategist at G2

The landscape of social media is constantly evolving. Let's not forget that Myspace was the dominate social platform 5 years ago.

Marketeers should not get hung up with specific social media channels like Facebook rather real value can be made in understanding who the audience is and what are the right social media channels and messaging is appropriate for each channel

over 5 years ago

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