Is Facebook Really on the Rise?

I was perusing my feeds today, and settled on an article from Nick O’Neill from AllFacebook, wherein he painted a picture of Facebook as returning to vogue as a result of coverage it’s received lately from folks like Robert Scoble and Jesse Stay. Perhaps it’s just my inability to really get Facebook, or perhaps I’m just willing to say what most people aren’t – Facebook is one of the least useful social networks.

Before I dropped into a full on rant about it, I wanted to get a little support from my peanut gallery, so I posed the question to Twitter: “do you like Facebook more now than you did a year ago? I’m genuinely curious.”

Here was what I got for answers (courtesy of Twickie):

rizzn: Probably silly asking this on Twitter, but do you like Facebook more now than you did a year ago? I’m genuinely curious.
about an hour ago

leemathews: too much noise on FB. Sponsor noise, app noise, stream noise. At least on Twitter it’s just the stream.
about 59 minutes ago

krusk: I would say I like FB more now. What I particularly like about FB vs. Twitter is the ability to stay in touch with old friends.
about 59 minutes ago

jdeeringdavis: i do not like facebook more now than i did a year ago. in fact, i’m getting bored with it.
about 58 minutes ago

ewu: my sentiments re Facebook haven’t changed, despite their UI changes
about 58 minutes ago

reachstudents: No. It feels like a bereavement…of sorts. *Prays they listen*
about 55 minutes ago

DotSauce: Hard to tell, I don’t visit it as much as I did a year ago.. but I still like it.
about 54 minutes ago

joedawson: I’m impressed with the improvements but more with Facebook Connect
about 4 minutes ago

Aside from Loic’s Seesmic client for Twitter, very little about Facebook has excited me as of late. Robert Scoble seems to have forgotten his own philosophy when it comes to what matters in social media.  He’s looking at the raw numbers and raw momentum of Facebook, and completely discounts that other social networks like Twitter and Friendfeed, while they may be smaller, have much higher levels of engagement.

I could go on and on and try to re-tell that philosophy and probably fall short of what you could discover on Scoble’s own sites and books, so instead let me just give you a real world example I shared on an episode of Michael Sean Wright’s podcast last night.

When John, Rex and I started up here at SiliconANGLE, we had zero audience here at the website.  The domain was new, and while John had moved over some of his content from into the archives, there were no regular subscribers to the feed and no followers on Twitter on our start date.

What we did notice, however, is that our social graphs have been portable due to our decision to integrate directly with FriendFeed, via including the feed in our profiles as well as using Disqus for our comments. As it turns out, the most common way for folks to come to the site is through FriendFeed, followed closely by Twitter.

Facebook doesn’t even register as a significant traffic source, and Facebook has been integrated on our site’s comments from day one.

Essentially, what I’m saying, is that Facebook is less engaged than other social networks.  People log in and are baffled as to what they’re supposed to be doing once they’ve finished their super-pokes.

So while Facebook may be indexing a lot of this stuff, these objects, articles and real-time stuff, they’ve got a long way to go before they are able to evoke actual interaction on the scale that we see on other social networks smaller in size but higher in interaction.