Teens lead Facebook defection: But where are they going?

By Chris Lee

Facebook is under pressure. While the social network continues to see growth in new markets, in mature markets teens – previously among its highest users – appear to be defecting in droves. In November 2013, temporary image site Snapchat – who recently rejected a $3 billion cash offer from Facebook – reported that more photos are shared daily over its network (400 million) than Facebook’s (350 million).

Where does this leave Facebook?

So where does this apparent mass defection leave not only Facebook, but also those brands already heavily invested in marketing to young demographics over the network? They may well need to diversify, according to experts contacted by NMK.

According to Jonathan Gaiger of creative agency Spinnaker, engagement for brands comes with highly visual content, such as Instagram’s 15-second video option, Facebook’s very pointed aim at Twitter’s six-second Vine app.

“What is exciting is that Instagram videos post in the same beautiful way that photograph images do which is ideal,” he argues. “It’s no wonder more brands have taken up Instagram video than have taken up its predecessor Vine. Combine this video capability with those deep hashtag-enriched conversations and a whole new level opens up for brands.”

Gaiger believes that Facebook is clearly trying to cater for the younger demographic and doing so in a way that helps create real-time conversation and engagement that will almost certainly benefit brands.

For Tom Wood of augmented reality agency Kudan, consumer-facing networks, especially for younger demographics, are driven by fashion as well as utility. While networks can consolidate, this movement is always going to be slower than the speed with which new networks start and grow, he argues.

“For a business marketing, or an agency supporting them, the key is to know your channels, especially those that are emerging and plan cost-effectively across all – the fact that Facebook is on the decline amongst a certain demographic is neither here nor there, as long as you are aware of where else to spend the social budget effectively,” he told NMK. “One positive for us, is that a more fragmented social landscape makes it harder for businesses (our clients) to self-serve, creating a greater reliance on us as a business to understand, plan and manage their social media presence within a fast-changing landscape.”

Further fragmentation to come

Julian Smith, head of strategy and innovation at mobile agency Fetch, believes further fragmentation in the social media landscape is imminent.

“The likes of Snapchat and its erasable media proposition will establish itself alongside the more permanent content social platforms,” he argued. “Users will increasingly communicate via a repertoire of social platforms, dependent on their part of the world, their social circle, their communication content, context, purpose and device. For brands and business owners this means that they too will need to broaden their social media strategies onto even more platforms.”

Spinnaker’s Gaiger signed off with a warning. “Let’s be clear. Facebook still has a lot of work if it thinks teenagers will come flooding back. No one really wants to see 40 posts in 10 minutes – it’s the kind of thing people expect and don’t mind seeing on the likes of Twitter when dual screening is the norm, but not on Facebook. For now, this is certainly stepping stone and it will be interesting to see how this develops for both brands and users.”

If you were interested in this, you may want to read our recent feature on marketing over Snapchat.

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