Facebook Popularity Dwindles among Teens

by Matt Klassen on April 11, 2013

Teens like Facebook (that should come as no surprise), but a new study shows that interest in the social network among teens is dwindling, meaning while social networking remains important; the Facebook brand itself does not.

In a survey conducted by Piper Jaffray (PDF), it was less surprising to see that the shine is quickly coming off Facebook, as the results found that teens who consider Facebook as their most important social media site dropped from more than 30 percent to around 20 percent– particularly given the traditionally sparse attention spans of the teenage demographic—than it was to see that its not a problem unique to Facebook, as all social media sites saw a drop or at least stagnation in their popularity numbers.

Further, in truly confusing teenage fashion, of the 5,200 respondents to the survey, 33 percent indicated that Facebook remains their most important social network, while significantly less, about 24 percent, indicated that Facebook remained their most important social media website, pointing to one inescapable reality: teens remain interested in Facebook because that’s where their friends are, but it doesn’t provide engaging content.

While it is sometimes difficult to parse the meaning of these surveys, the discrepancy between the number of teens who deem Facebook has their de facto social network and the number of teens who see Facebook as their most important social media website says to me that while teens  still want to connect with friends on the social network, they are quickly finding other mediums to share content, particularly real-time messages, videos and photos.

As the survey results show, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are edging closer to Facebook’s spot atop the social mountain, with all three showing less decline than Facebook, evidence again that while Facebook providers the best place for meeting with friends and planning events, it will soon no longer be the default choice for sharing social content.

This stark reality is likely of grave concern to Mark Zuckerberg and Co, given that the lifeblood of the social network is through prolonged user interaction, leading to more eyeballs on advertising, which in turn leads to profits. If teens are only using Facebook to connect quickly with friends, but aren’t using it for more engaging social activities like sharing videos and pictures, there will be less exposure to advertising, and less money for Facebook; a problem for certain, particularly given the findings that more than half of teens admit that social media impacts their purchasing habits.

Further, there was a considerable list of write-in social network candidates as well, with teens interested in Wanelo, Vine, Snapchat, Kik, and 4chan, in that order. While certainly no keen observer of the teenage mind, the decline of traditional social networks like Facebook and Twitter, combined with the interest in social networking options not offered by the study seem to indicate one thing, reaching the teenage demographic requires a focused platform, one that meets teens where they are and engages them in ways they want to be engaged.

Now perhaps this is what Facebook is trying to do with its new Facebook Home Android overlay, recapturing the attention of teens where they are (looking at their smartphone) by getting the ubiquitous social network back in their faces.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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