Consumers Split Over Prospects for Facebook’s Long-Term Success

May 16, 2012

ap-cnbc-facebook-staying-power-may2012.jpgFacebook may have 900 million monthly active users and be the darling of social media marketers as it nears its IPO, but that doesn’t mean that the public is convinced the social network is here for the long-term, according to an AP and CNBC poll conducted in May 2012. 46% of respondents said they think the social networking giant will fade away over time as new things come along, compared to 43% who believe it will be successful over the long term. The remaining 11% may be the wisest: they simply don’t know. Interestingly, younger adults are slightly higher than the average to think that Facebook will fade away (51% vs. 46%), although users of the site are far more likely than non-users to believe in its staying power (51% vs. 35%).

Overall, 55% of the respondents report having a Facebook page, with 3 in 10 saying they use the site every day (rising to 55% among younger adults).

Privacy Concerns Rampant

A look at consumer attitudes towards privacy on Facebook reveals that among users, a whopping 59% have little to no trust in the social network to protect their privacy. Just 13% completely trust the company to keep their personal information private, while the remaining 28% only somewhat trust it.

Privacy concerns appear to be keeping potential users away, too: among non-users, 21% say privacy is the reason they stay away, though that trails a general lack of interest (35%) and dislike (22%) as the primary reason.

Most Don’t Feel Safe With F-Commerce

Those same privacy fears are reflected in consumers’ attitudes towards buying goods or services through Facebook. 54% of the respondents said they would not feel safe purchasing items like clothing or travel through the site, compared to 28% who would feel somewhat safe, and 8% who would feel extremely safe. Even among heavy users who access the site multiple times a day, half said they would not feel safe making purchases through the site.

According to a study released in December 2011 by ThreatMetrix in partnership with the Ponemon Institute, 53% of consumers who say they are active internet users do not believe that Facebook’s storefronts are committed to protecting them against fraud, with a further 23% saying they are unsure.

Most Never Click on Ads

In discouraging news for advertisers, 57% of respondents to the AP-CNBC survey who use Facebook say they never click on ads or sponsored content on Facebook, while 26% rarely click on them. Only 17% say they often or sometimes click on the ads.

Data from an Epsilon Targeting study released in December 2011 found that 31% of Americans surveyed said they find advertising on social media sites to be either not very or not at all useful, compared to just 13% who found the ads somewhat or very useful.

Other Findings:

  • The AP-CNBC poll also reveals that half of the adults surveyed believe that Facebook is overvalued, compared to roughly one-third who say it is valued fairly by the market, and 3% who believe it to be undervalued. Breaking the results down, the poll finds that respondents who invest in the stock market are 29% more likely than those who do not to feel that Facebook is overvalued (58% vs. 45%). Among those active investors who have made changes in their holdings in the past month, 62% believe Facebook will be overvalued, compared to 27% who think it will be fairly priced, and 5% who believe it will be undervalued.
  • Despite half of the respondents feeling that Facebook is overvalued, 51% said that Facebook stock would be a good investment, compared to 31% who said that it would not.
  • 51% of respondents have a favorable opinion of Facebook, trailing Google, Apple, and Microsoft (all at 71%), but ahead of Twitter (27%). Respondents under age 35 are more than twice as likely as senior citizens to hold a favorable impression of Facebook (71% vs. 28%). Similarly, users are almost three times as likely as non-users to have a favorable impression (72% vs. 25%).
  • 36% of respondents have a favorable impression of Mark Zuckerberg, while 30% are neutral.
  • 58% of respondents are either very (18%) or somewhat (40%) confident in Zuckerberg’s ability to run Facebook.
  • Once the company is publicly traded, respondents are more likely to see Zuckerberg’s age as an asset than a liability (21% vs. 11%). However, a higher proportion believe his temperament will hurt than help him (17% vs. 13%).

The AP-CNBC poll was conducted May 3-7, 2012, and reflects the views of 1,004 people surveyed by telephone.

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