a vacation from FacebookIn a recent study by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, the comings and goings of Facebook users were examined, and the results indicate a significant amount of turn-over in Facebook users.

The findings showed that 61% of current Facebook users took a break from the social media site for several weeks or more. Moreover, 20% of online adults used Facebook at one time but have since quit it altogether.

Pew took the study further to drill into the reasons the 61% took vacations from Facebook.

The reasons for taking a break from the social networking site were not surprising; they ranged from 21% who were too busy, to 10% who thought the content wasn’t relevant, to the 4% who had concerns about privacy, spam, and ads.

The study also saw some interesting trends in the overall value of Facebook to users:

1. Women are more likely than men to report increased Facebook importance and more time spent on the site.

2. Facebook users ages 18-49 say that the time on Facebook has decreased over the last year.

3. Approximately one in four say they plan to cut back on their Facebook usage in 2013.

With usage not as consistent as we imagined, how does this affect the ads we manage? Certainly the value of Facebook reflects on the value of the ads we serve.

It’s possible this may impact ad results in three ways:

1. Engagement: users who are on the site back and forth or sporadically are less likely to see your ad. Is it possible that since they would not have ad creative fatigue, the CTR and conversion rates would be higher? It may also be possible they would be more likely to respond to social cues and “likes” – especially the female demographic, which says they will spend more time on the site.

2. Demographics: the study suggests that a large percentage of younger users are more likely to take breaks from the site. Men are more likely to take breaks, as well. Depending on product, seasonality, and other factors, younger users and men may be less viable audiences to reach on Facebook.

3. Loyalty:  inconstant usage implies weak loyalty to Facebook. That’s OK, but it should be considered when developing ad campaigns. The audience that tends to come and go may be less likely to be page joiners and would respond stronger to offers with more immediacy and with no long term commitment.

It’s interesting to consider how the user behavior outlined in the study can creep into the results we see in ad performance. What impact do you think it could have?

– Lisa Raehsler

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Lisa Raehsler is founder and principal strategist at Minnesota-based online advertising agency Big Click Co.