Well, one thing that anyone interested in how well a company will perform over the long term is to look at the next generation of users and see what their opinions of the product are. If what Facebook reported in their annual 10-K report (hat tip to Business Insider), there might be trouble on the horizon
We believe that some of our users, particularly our younger users, are aware of and actively engaging with other products and services similar to, or as a substitute for, Facebook. For example, we believe that some of our users have reduced their engagement with Facebook in favor of increased engagement with other products and services such as Instagram. In the event that our users increasingly engage with other products and services, we may experience a decline in user engagement and our business could be harmed.
It’s an interesting tone since it sounds more like an espionage report or something a private investigator would say after observing a behavior on behalf of someone else. It’s encouraging though that Facebook is taking a hard look at its users.
Is there evidence of these movement right now? While anecdotal this was part of the Business Insider’s coverage of this ‘concern’
Adam Ludwin recently launched a social photo album app called Albumatic. Before its launch, he showed the app to a focus group of 20+ people under the age of 25. Most told Ludwin they didn’t like how reliant the app was on Facebook.
“They gave me the typical teenage response: ‘We’re bored with Facebook,’” Ludwin told Business Insider.
So is this a social media apocalypse waiting to happen? Not likely especially based on the findings of 20 or so teens. Not knowing what the demographics of those teens were etc we have to be careful to draw broad conclusions (no one ever does that, do they?) The truth is, while young people might be using Facebook less it is still being used.
Of course, this doesn’t mean teens are deleting their Facebook profiles. They’re just looking to use the service less, and they’re open to communicating on other platforms.
The good news for Facebook is that teens are still rabid Instagram users. So while they may be shifting attention away from the social network, Zuckerberg can still monetize them on mobile devices
So maybe there is a silver lining for Facebook. As marketers though we need to be paying attention to where our market lives. If you are trying to reach the 25 and under crowd, which is a big part of the social media world, you may need to wonder just how effective Facebook is in reaching your target market.
While having an account may show that someone is technically using Facebook it’s not enough information. Saying that there are 1 billion ‘active users’ on Facebook is starting to sound more like the more informed understanding of Likes on Facebook. It may not be what we want it to be.
How are you viewing Facebook these days? Are you seeing lower ‘engagement’? (By the way, ‘engagement’ is an overused industry term by now isn’t it? What the heck does it even mean?) Most important of all, are people ultimately buying your stuff at least in part due to their experience on Facebook? If not, you may have some hard questions to ask.
What are your thoughts? Is Facebook slipping? Will it always be the 800 pound gorilla in the social media space or is it just as vulnerable as the next guy?