It’s official – teens are using Facebook less often. It’s a trend that most marketers have been privy to for a while now, however Facebook CFO David Ebersman’s acknowledgement of it following the release of the company’s third quarter earnings has confirmed what was already being speculated. It should come as no surprise to anyone. While analysts and reporters may be overacting just a tad, teen obsessions rarely last more than a decade. It’s the reason why bell bottoms weren’t popular in the ’80s, leg warmers disappeared in the ’90s and flannel fell off in the early 2000s. Why should certain forms of social media usage follow a different path?
Whether Facebook is really in trouble with teen audiences still remains to be seen. Experts have also been quick to point out that many teens don’t include their year of their birth (or lie about their age), so nothing can truly be proven yet. However, this should serve as a reminder to all the brands that put most of their stock into teens using Facebook that what is popular now likely won’t be popular later.
What has changed?
In this particular instance the answer is values; one of the greatest values of today’s teen: online privacy. According to a Pew Research Center study, 74% of teen social media users have deleted people from their network while 45% regularly remove their names from photos in which they’ve been tagged. The public nature of Facebook has turned a lot of teens off to the social media giant (not to mention their parents creating profiles. Who let them in?!). Many other social networks and tools offer more substantial privacy options. While some, such as Instagram, allow users to create an account without being an active participant, others, like Snapchat, have introduced the concept of “erasable” content.
That leads to another revelation: teens like to share images and videos; literally, that’s all that a substantial amount of them want to do. Networks such as the aforementioned Instagram and Snapchat, along with sites such as Vine and Pinterest, eliminate the clutter and allow teens to do what they really want: see what is going on in everyone else’s life and prove through photos and videos that their life is pretty darn cool too.
What’s your point?
Nothing sticks when it comes to teenage interests. Unlike other demographics, whose values have remained the same overall for generations, it is teenage nature to explore new avenues of discovery and entertainment. That reiterates the fact that brands must constantly be on their toes. The fact that Facebook is losing its luster shouldn’t scare marketers, because it should have been expected. What was “hot” 10 years ago isn’t anymore, and we have seen this time and time again. So to all the teen marketers out there, start thinking about how you are going to attack 2023 right now.