A conversation with my friends 16 year old sister last week took me by surprise. She said that herself and her friends all choose not to use Facebook as they think it is for “Old people” instead they choose to use platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram. So is Facebook becoming a place for older people?

According to eMarketer 700,000 fewer 12-17 year olds and 18-24 year olds used Facebook in 2018 compared to 2017 and a surge of over 55’s joining Facebook now means that they are the second biggest demographic of Facebook users in 2018. By the end of the year it is predicted that more than 3 million under-25s are expected to leave Facebook in the UK and US.

Lets not forget that Instagram is owned by Facebook, so they have been successful at keeping hold of younger users. Facebook has become a place in which people can keep in contact with friends and family. As a young person you are constantly surrounded by your friends at school and are less likely to need to keep in contact with distant friends and family. Young people don’t care that your newborn has just smiled for the first time, they want to see pictures of their friends at last weekend’s party on Instagram!

But I used Facebook when I was at school? Well yes, you may have but was this because it was a great platform or was it simply because it was the only platform? Social media platforms can have a very short life, who remembers MySpace and Bebo?

Growing up nowadays teenagers are surrounded by new social media platforms. When I asked my friends sister why she doesn’t use Facebook for messenger she said why would she bother when she has all of her friends on snapchat. Research shows that the amount of users using snapchat has doubled in the UK.

Around 44% of Snapchats users are aged 18 to 24 in comparison to only 20% on Facebook.

Snapchat seems a perfect social network for school children that want ‘secret’ conversations with their best friends and crushes, why do it on Facebook where mum might see!

Facebook has come under a lot of criticism by adding a ‘story’ feature to their platforms including Instagram and WhatsApp which is a blatant copy of Snapchat. Perhaps this is an attempt to bring younger people back to their platform. However this could work in reverse as Facebook adding this feature means that it is now accessible to more older people and when young people see their grandad making an Instagram story it may not be as ‘cool’ anymore forcing them to go and find the next ‘cool’ social network. (I realise that using the word ‘cool’ is showing my age.)

As this article by the Guardian shows,any young people cho to stop using Facebook as they thought that their parents were ruining it. Nobody wants to use the same products, wear the same brands and go to the same places as their parents and the same seems to be the case with social media platforms.

They also suggest that the large amount of advertisements on Facebook also pushes them away. Zuckerberg promised back in January that Facebook will focus on reducing commercial messages and highlighting posts from our friends and family. This may have come a little too late for the younger generation, they are more likely to engage with social media influencers on Instagram and Youtube than an advert on Facebook.

So What Does This Mean For Marketers?

It means that if you are targeting a teenage audience through Facebook ads and you aren’t getting the engagement you wanted, there may be a reason for that. With many younger people flocking to other social networks you may have to do more research into where you think your target audience are. It may just mean adding another social media platform to the list of platforms you currently post to. We suggest using a social media management programme such as Hootsuite to easily schedule posts to multiple platforms.

On the other hand with more older people joining Facebook you now have more potential customers using social media. Showing the power a good social media strategy could have at turning potential customers into loyal customers by building lasting relationships.

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