Survey: Nearly 50% See Facebook “Fading Away” Over Time
A new poll from AP and CNBC on the eve of the Facebook IPO shows that Americans are ambivalent about the company and that it faces numerous challenges as it seeks to generate more revenue growth from its already massive user base. The AP-CNBC poll was conducted May 3 through May 7. The survey sample was 1,004 US adults.
Among survey respondents 56 percent had a Facebook profile, 40 percent did not and 4 percent didn’t know.
Google, Apple and Microsoft are viewed more favorably than Facebook. Of the comparison group Twitter was viewed less favorably. The results shift by demographic segment, however, with younger people having a more favorable impression of the social site: 71 percent of people under age 35 have a favorable view compared to 28 percent of seniors.
Some of the questions asked in the poll pertain to Facebook as an investment and its longevity and revenue outlook. Along those lines, almost half the respondents thought that Facebook “will fade away as new things come along.”
Interestingly, this was not impacted by age. According to CNBC, “Although they are generally more positive about the company, younger adults are no more apt than their older counterparts to expect Facebook’s long-term success.”
I interpret this finding to mean that people are not particularly attached to Facebook and would be open to alternatives in the future.
Another “disturbing” finding for the company is that the majority of respondents don’t trust it to maintain privacy. Only 13 percent “completely trust” Facebook, while 28 percent “somewhat trust” it. User trust and privacy concerns are significant areas of vulnerability for Facebook as it rolls out new products and advertising initiatives — as it must.
Among those who said they didn’t use Facebook (it’s not clear whether this also includes those who have profiles), a total of 57 percent said they either lacked interest or actively disliked the company.
In terms of e-commerce on Facebook, 36 percent said they felt “extremely” or “somewhat safe” purchasing goods via the site. However, 54 percent said they felt “not at all safe.” In terms of ad-related or sponsored clicks 83 percent said they “hardly ever or never” clicked on Facebook ads or sponsored content, while 17 percent said they did “often or sometimes.”
None of this will come as surprise to anyone inside Facebook or who follows the company. However it does suggest that users are fickle and large numbers are ambivalent about the company, its policies and advertising.
As Facebook becomes more aggressive with ads and other revenue-making moves it may fuel further ambivalence or distrust among users. The company will have to be very careful accordingly. As long as its business model is based on “data mining” its users profiles, content and behavior these challenges will exist for Facebook.
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