Facebook has seen a decline in DAU numbers in two key markets. This is not necessarily the end of the world for such a huge platform, but it could be the start of a problem.

Facebook has had a tumultuous time over the last couple of years. It has had scandals to deal with, as well as plenty of issues around how people perceive its approach to data and advertising. But it still continues to be the poster child for social media. It is used by most people on the planet (who use social media) and it has continued to innovate as it moves forward. It’s a great example of what social media can do.

In late January, Facebook announced its annual performance figures via it’s annual performance update. The update stated that the platform had added 299 million more active users in 2020. That’s a phenomenal amount of people added to the platform, and is another indicator of the general pervasiveness of Facebook in our lives.

However, there is a slight caveat here. Facebook has actually seen a decline in daily active users (DAU) in the US and Canada (details on the first slide in the presentation). This means that while it is seeing an overall growth of users, there is a decline in daily usage in those two countries.

What makes this even more worrying for Facebook is the fact that last year saw a pandemic that affected everyone all over the world, and caused the vast majority of social media users to engage more with platforms. Because of social distancing and other restrictions worldwide, including travel restrictions, it would almost seem obvious that more people would log on daily and use their platforms of choice more often. But with Facebook in the USA and Canada, the DAU numbers dropped.

Why is this a problem?

Well, numbers are numbers, and if numbers have reduced, logic dictates there is an issue. But it’s almost less of a numbers issue than it is a market issue. North America is where Facebook got its start, and it became its most established market. If things are going downhill there, this could perhaps suggest that there is a beginning of a decline across the markets it covers worldwide.

If you bear in mind that Facebook is a mighty platform that just keeps expanding, you can see how things follow a pattern. If there is a drop in the oldest market it has, then can we expect a similar drop at some point in other markets?

Maybe so. For now, marketers need to think about the fact that DAU numbers in the US and in Canada have actually experienced a drop. This means that there is less of an audience, by default. If people are using it less than they used to, there is less value in Facebook marketing in these two specific countries.

The real problem is that this slide may continue. There was a pandemic, and this has meant more usage of social media across the world. But Facebook saw a decline. It must be causing Zuckerberg a few headaches working out why the DAU fell.

The wider issue could well be around competitors. Facebook isn’t necessarily what it used to be. Sure, it’s still a great place to connect with friends, but it can’t necessarily compete with Twitter for breaking news. And it can’t match Instagram’s power for Influencers (we know Facebook owns Instagram, but you get the point).

Facebook might actually be becoming less relevant. It might be in a position where it can’t serve people the way it used to. And for marketers, this means that a review of policy on Facebook marketing will be required. Sure, it’s just in North America and Canada, but they are huge, established markets. And like we stated earlier, it could lead to a pattern developing.

I guess we’re really just asking one question here.

Is Facebook getting old?