No surprise in Facebook stock decline

Facebook stock fell again today on its 3rd day of being traded on Nasdaq. It fell almost 1% more in after hours trading.

Facebook is now priced at 30.77, off more than 7 points off its IPO price last Friday — and more than 30% off its peak on Friday.

No surprise, as far as I’m concerned.

The IPO valuation was over 100x earnings, far higher than made any sense to me and to lots of analysts a whole lot more savvy than I am.

Even if the stock price continues to fall as I anticipate, Facebook obviously retains great power.

Largely because of my years as a columnist in Savannah, my years of teaching school, and the amount of time I spend out and about, I have an absurd number of Facebook contacts: close to 2500 friends. When I started my blog in January 2011, Facebook was in the back of my mind: I was tired of providing so much free content to Facebook for which I was not compensated, and I knew that I could leverage my Facebook presence into more blog traffic.

And that’s pretty much what has happened.

In the last 30 days, my blog traffic has gotten about 550 referrals from search engines, 183 from Twitter, and 10 from LinkedIn.

But this blog has gotten 4,978 referrals from Facebook in the last 30 days. That’s unusually high because of the large number of hits on my post about Orange Crush at Tybee, but it’s still indicative of Facebook’s incredible reach.

Still, consider what happened over the last week or so. I made a blog post with some pretty nice photos from Chatham-Savannah Citizen Advocacy’s 34th Annual Covered Dish Supper, and I promoted that post as usual through Facebook and Twitter. Amazing organization, great event attended by over 300 people, photos of dozens of people I know — all that translated into a fairly meager 150 page views on this blog.

Once the blog views had run their course, last night I posted the exact same album of photos to my personal Facebook page and tagged some of the pics. I have no way of knowing exactly how many hits that album has gotten in less than 24 hours, but a single photo of Tom Kohler got 15 likes and 5 comments in a matter of hours.

I’ve had similar experience with other posts, and I’ve gotten used to the simple fact that the vast majority of comments I get on blog posts will be made below my link to it on Facebook and not on this site itself.

Facebook really has become the home page for many of us as we use the internet, and we keep coming back to it. That’s true not for the Facebook site in its entirety, but also specifically for the home page. It seems that many users who saw that picture of Tom didn’t even click through to see other pics from the event, just as 19 people liked a photo Cusses’ Angel Bond since I posted it yesterday, but no one has liked other, better, untagged photos of Angel in the same Facebook album. (Original pics in this blog post.)

So Facebook has created an experience that masterfully keeps users on the site, but many seem to stick awfully close to their home pages. In other words, many don’t seem to know how to take full advantage of Facebook. Another example: I routinely get puzzled looks when I talk about using Facebook lists and the “close friends” setting to keep better track of my inner circle.

I’d like to think that Facebook would get more streamlined so that users understand the functions better and find it easier to maximize and personalize its functionality.

But Facebook is just getting more and more cumbersome, with more apps, with more users like me with an inordinate number of friends, and with increasing questions about user privacy. I don’t think these problems will lead to widespread Facebook abandonment — it’s become too crucial as a communication platform.

But what’s the ultimate value of the company? Will it withstand the inevitable onslaughts of competitors? Will it be able to increase ad revenue even as questions about user data proliferate? Will it be able to survive as the technologies change and as more users go mobile?