Lots of coverage in the past few days of a UK study which claims Facebook is all but finished, because tweens and younger teens don’t like using it as much as this demographic used to. Even national newspapers covered the story such as Daily Mail . The study claims that young people are using What’s app, Vine and Snapchat instead of Facebook. (This is so stupid in itself, What’s App and Facebook are totally different and serve different functions, more on that later). Of course this isn’t the first time this kind of story has caused ripples. Remember the Op-ed piece on mashable entitled ‘I’m 13 and none of my friends use Facebook‘? Try to forget for a minute how presumptuous and precocious it is for a 13 year old to claim to represent every young person on planet earth by constantly using phrases like ‘We don’t care’ and ‘If facebook isn’t tending, teens won’t care’. Before going mad and beating the subject to death in discussion forums, no one stopped to ask themselves, exactly who is this child to speak for every teen on the planet? But anyway I digress. Here’s some reasons why the story is just headline grabbing.
1. You can’t compare What’s App, Instagram, Snapchat and so on, to Facebook.
This is like comparing a torch, a Nokia 3210, an mp3 player, and a digital camera to an iPhone. Does a digital camera take better pictures than an iPhone? Yes. Does that mean it’s not useful to have this feature in an iPhone? No. Facebook is a multitask platform. Messaging, sharing pictures, content and thoughts, event invitations the list goes on. Comparing it to a silo’d appication like What’s App is such nonsense. All What’s App does is replicate one aspect of the facebook offering. So let’s stop saying ‘teens are using Instagram instead of facebook’ because two offerings are totally different. One is a specialist tool, the other generalist. G+ is the only thing that can really be compared on a like-for-like basis with Facebook.
2. Just because you don’t use Facebook at 13, doesn’t mean you never will
I didn’t use Facebook when I was 13. It didn’t exist. But I do use it at 31. Just because kids don’t sign up on their 13th birthday doesn’t mean they never will, another reason why the girl on Mashable Op-Ed was so blinkered and short sighted in her announcement. Every day millions of people sign up from ages 13 to 83, so let’s please dispense with the idea that if people don’t use it at 13 they never will. It might not have much use for them at 13, but one day their needs and networks might change and they might find Facebook attractive.
3. Facebook probably doesn’t care as much as 13 year olds think they do
Their objective, despite the Zuckerberg ‘connecting the world’ kumbaya stuff, is revenue from advertisers. 13 year old kids aren’t economically active. They don’t buy cars, or clothes, or household goods. I think Facebook would rather take a 51 year old over a 13 year old user any day. And for all the talk of it not being ‘cool’ to be friends with your parents when you’re 13, guess what when you’re in your mid 20s it’s actually really useful to stay connected via facebook with your folks. Back to my above point, just because something isn’t useful to you now, don’t assume it never will be.
4. Facebook is still growing and dominating
Last but not least, anyone who pronounces a media property ‘dead’ when said property can display market share like the below is frankly an idiot. My advice to marketers remains the same; if you only have one hour a day to spend on Social Media marketing, make that one hour 100% Facebook. Fish where the fish are, right? A cool instagram or Pinterest page is very ‘down with the kids’ but as I say, kids don’t drive revenue (with some exceptions) and you’ll have an almost impossible task trying to achieve any real reach through what are in reality, tiny bit players next to the behemoth Facebook. This is media 101. Do the one thing which achieves the highest reach and best return, first. Now I know it’s not going to be ‘controversial’ or even ‘cool’ to say it but guess what, when it comes to Social….That one thing is still Facebook.
PS: Here’s an excellent article on Mashable on this topic, nice to see other people also questioning the bandwagon!