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Facebook Admits It Has A Young Person Problem

facebook-icon 1What are the standard lines run out about Facebook these days by everyone making the argument that it is THE place to be? Well, there are about 1 billion people on it is one. It’s where people stay in touch is another. You can make the rest of the list yourself.

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?

  • http://envecreative.com/ Sarah Espano

    A really interesting article, and it parallels a similar idea that I’m running an experiment around on my own blog, about whether or not one can break from Facebook’s mind control in just 60 days. There is no doubt that Facebook has changed the way we communicate, but with all these businesses trying to beat the algorithm, the overabundance of sponsored stories and ads barraging us right on our news feeds now, and what many are starting to recognize is purely useless information – not to mention a huge distraction – I think Facebook has finally started its momentous decline.

    • FrankReed

      Sure would be interesting if FB has somehow already reached its apex and can only go down from here. Not likely but in this world why not?

      • http://envecreative.com/ Sarah Espano

        It’s bound to happen at some point. With everything moving so quickly nowadays, these trends are bound to fall just as quickly as they climbed up, I would think. OK, maybe it’s just that I wouldn’t be *entirely* sad to see Facebook go from a weird, sadistic, anti-corporate standpoint. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/maryrussorau Mary E. Russo Rau

    I have heard talk of FB’s demise. I still think that the JURY is OUT on this one. Teenagers get bored just about everyday….maybe Fb developers just need to hone their skills to keep this market “using”….. I bet they are working on it now.

  • Justin H.

    The fact of the matter is nobody in college or high school wants to network socially with their parents. They move to Instragram and Twitter because that is where they can express themselves to their friends without the pressure of having to accept friend requests from people that they don’t really want involved in their Internet lives. G+ has the right idea with the ability to easily separate people based on relationships and protect content from certain groups, but it hasn’t caught the younger market, and who knows if it ever will.

  • Sujata Gunjal

    well said Justin , features about the G+ right idea with the ability to easily separate people based on relationships and protect content from certain groups. For enaging the yongster FB must area unit the favourite wherever they supply USA with the simplest thanks to hook up with new friends and perform conversations with all the connected ones.But its also boaring now..

  • Numero Uno Support

    well said Justin , features about the G+ right idea with the ability to easily separate people based on relationships and protect content from certain groups. For enaging the yongster FB must area unit the favourite wherever they supply USA with the simplest thanks to hook up with new friends and perform conversations with all the connected ones.But its also boaring now..