Facebook is 17 years old, but it can’t seem to make friends its own age.
“Kids these days” see Facebook as the crazy uncle at Thanksgiving that always has too much to say, and they are starting to look at other platforms to express themselves.
Young users now see Facebook as just a place to rant and rave and that is not how they are looking to engage with social media. They are using social platforms to seek validation and community and find their place in the world. And right now, Facebook doesn’t provide the level of interaction they require.
This lack of relevance is giving Facebook an aging user base with no clear solution in place to increase its presence with the always emerging teenage market. Social media companies rely on becoming indispensable to young users so they can have decades of data to sell as users age with the platform.
The equation for success is simple: users equal data and data equals money, but if you can’t provide a product they want to use teens and young adults will take their data elsewhere. And they have been. Facebook still has strong user numbers in all markets, but those percentages have seen some concerning declines.
In the under 18 audience account registrations have been steadily declining and current users in that bracket show weak engagement levels. Their perception is that Facebook is boring and meant for their parents and grandparents to use.
Negative associations with privacy and misleading ads also serve to keep the next generation of users off the platform. And easy access to cameras in our phones has caused us to interact with social media in a more visual way while Facebook has remained largely text-based.
Between their own image issues, screen time going to TikTok, and messaging being taken by Snapchat, Facebook has been disengaging from young users instead of bringing them into the fold. Efforts are being made to regain that demographic, but the battle will be tough. Facebook is focusing on new products and services meant to entice teens and young adults to the platform.
One area of focus may be on mental health and promoting support and mentorship programs. While a lot of negativity surrounds Instagram over body issues, there is no denying it has helped overcome the stigma on mental health and Facebook wants to be in the spotlight too.
They will also be promoting meaningful conversations on causes that resonate with teens and young adults. Conservation, climate change, racial and social equality, are just some of the top concerns for the youth of today and they are looking to talk, engage, and take action. Facebook really could be the best platform for that movement.
By reimagining Groups, Facebook is looking to bring people of like minds and personalities together. This could allow young users to build their own networks and bring Facebook back to its roots as a social networking site. Including advancing into the job market with resume hosting and job searches. Watch out LinkedIn!
These youthful efforts are not exclusive to Facebook. Instagram is also focusing on reducing bullying by encouraging users to set their accounts to private. “Finsta” accounts recently came under Congressional fire, but these “fake Instagram” accounts are encouraged because they provide users the ability to have a public and a private profile making it easy to share what you want with who you want.
Will these efforts to stay relevant with a younger audience preserve Facebook’s number one position? Only time will really tell but while researching this article it became obvious that the same question has been posted for at least the last ten years and with 1.84 billion daily users Facebook is in no immediate danger of being fired.
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