Over the past few weeks, the news has been full of reports about how teenagers are abandoning Facebook. Apparently it’s not cool any more – and as a result, Facebook is ‘dead and buried’ (exact quote from the researcher who led the EU study that sparked all this).
The widespread assumption is that teenagers abandoning Facebook must be a bad thing; means Facebook is passe; and spells its end.
But since when does the success or failure of any given social media platform hinge on whether teenagers like it?
Plenty of social media platforms do not appeal to teens at all – witness LinkedIn or Pinterest. They are hardly ‘dead and buried’. They’re just different, and Facebook is evolving too.
Nor does Facebook’s strategy, in particular, depend on teenagers. Its main aim right now is to become more profitable – as it should be. It’s a company, not a charity!
The money lies with adults and businesses (who Facebook is aggressively trying to get to pay for advertising) – not with teenagers. I’m sure Facebook would be perfectly happy with less teenage users and more revenue!
And what about the long-term? If teens continue to abandon Facebook every year, will Facebook eventually end up without a user base? I don’t know. Social media changes so fast, predictions are extremely dangerous. But since pretty much everyone age 20 and up is still on it, that gives them at least a couple of decades to work out their strategy.
It’s also entirely possible that as these teens grow older, they will come to appreciate Facebook’s wide range of services (currently unrivalled by any of the other platforms they are turning to), its value as the chronicler of your life, and its ability to keep them in touch with everyone and anyone. Yes, at the moment that’s what’s turning them off – they don’t like being on the same platform as their mum.
But teenagers grow into adults, their needs change, and some of the things they considered profoundly uncool before they were 20 become their staples. That’s the way the world works, and it’s not entirely impossible we find that the same thing happens with social media.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!
Miriam Shaviv is Director of Content at Brainstorm Digital
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