Is Facebook passé?
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP firstname.lastname@example.org |
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By Rachel Cole, IBM Social Content Intern
I recently attended my cousin’s wedding, where I ate, danced, played my first round of golf and, yes, talked about Facebook. Social media was quite the conversation topic among my family members. My uncle, who had recently been “friended” by a long-lost childhood friend on Facebook, remarked on how much the friend had changed since they were young. My mother jokingly complained that my brother, in the past, had blocked her on Facebook, to which my brother responded, “I didn’t want you commenting on my pictures!” And then, to my surprise, my 24-year-old cousin stated that she personally doesn’t use Facebook much anymore.
What? Really? You’re not using Facebook? If this is true for other young Facebook users, what does it mean for users still on the site? And how will this affect companies that use Facebook as a marketing tool?
After the initial shock passed, I started to see how this startling idea of younger users decreasing their activity on Facebook could actually be true. My cousin has started to use other social media sites, like Instagram, more often. My brother mentioned sites like Twitter that are very popular but have not yet reached Facebook’s user numbers. I also started thinking about the ever-growing site Pinterest. All of this intrigued me, so I did a little research, and this is what I found:
What does this mean for the enterprise?
Some of these stats are pretty incredible, but it is not clear how we should interpret the Facebook numbers. Some people say that these reports of Facebook declining in the US are wrong; what is really happening is a drop from desktop users to mobile users, which only makes it seem like Facebook is declining in user numbers. Also, the numbers are still increasing in other countries outside the US.
These numbers, however, can provide a good starting point for enterprises seeking to increase their followers on Facebook. Given the growing number of non-US users, companies should make sure they post new content for those users’ appropriate time zones. In regards to the US numbers, since there is a decrease in younger users, companies may want to post content targeted toward younger users on Twitter and post content appealing to older users on Facebook.
But why are younger Facebook users less interested in Facebook? Many say that it is because of the growth of older users infiltrating their kids’ news feeds. Outside of the web, kids don’t feel cool if their parents (and grandparents!) are doing the same things that they are doing, and the same goes for social media sites.
Another explanation could be that the younger generation is always on the move for the next big thing, and Facebook simply is not the newest trend anymore. With relatively newer sites emerging in the social media realm, such as Instagram and Pinterest, young adults are starting to spend less time on Facebook and more time exploring newer social sites.
The future of Facebook
Does this mean Facebook is going away? I don’t think so! The shift in its user demographics is interesting, but the site is still gaining users, and it’s still one of the best ways to keep in touch with all your close (and perhaps not so close) friends and family. Plus, younger users are still on the site, even if they aren’t as active as older users. Social is a part of who we are, and younger users know that. After all, it was a college student who created Facebook! Social media will continue to be relevant whether on tried-and-true sites like Facebook or newer sites still trying to catch up with Facebook’s numbers. This is good news for those of us who plan to stay on Facebook as well as for businesses that want to continue reaching out to potential customers.
Why do you think young adults are putting Facebook on pause, and what can businesses learn from this shift? Please leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter.