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Social networks may be facing a new era in Germany. According to a November 2014 report published by Hamburg PR consultancy Faktenkontor and Toluna, the percentage of internet users visiting social sites has dropped, as consumers weigh up the pros and cons of taking part. In 2013, an estimated 75% of the online population ages 14 and older used networks such as Facebook, Twitter and XING; last year, just 68% did so. The consultancy surveyed 3,450 internet users in September and October 2014.
These figures are in line with results from the same source released in December 2014, when Faktenkontor suggested that “Facebook is dying.” Behind this provocative headline was some intriguing data: While the global giant was still the No. 1 social network in Germany—and boasted very impressive user numbers—only 38% of those users were actually posting content there, compared with 47% in 2013 and 58% in 2012.
More broadly, one in four web users polled for the study said they would actively decline to use social networks in the future—up from 20% in 2013. Researchers emphasized that social media users now expect concrete value in exchange for their participation, as they’re aware that their personal data is collected and may be misused. Almost half (44%) of respondents who refused to engage on social sites said their decision arose from concern about losing control of that data.
As Faktenkontor pointed out, however, social media will still exercise enormous influence. According to the Statistisches Bundesamt, around 40 million people in Germany use social sites. Even if this population shrinks further, it will represent a vast potential audience for advertisers. Moreover, “a further decline in user numbers is unlikely,” researchers claimed, because social networks have become an integral part of daily life.
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