Facebook Falling Out of Favor with Teens

facebook for teensFacebook began as an exclusive social network before people really knew what social networks could become. Since then it has grown into a social media behemoth. Since going public a year ago, Facebook has been making a great many changes to its service. The company is becoming more successful at collecting revenue from its users, but news from yesterday shows that teens aren’t quite as enthusiastic about Facebook as they used to be.

Pew Study Shows Insight into Teens and Facebook 

Teens are a huge market for traditional advertising and increasingly online advertising. The rise of social media and the internet has made teens more active consumers than they ever have been before. Plenty of businesses and agencies interact with teens on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and others. But these teens and young adults have to grow up with social media – something no generation before them has had to manage in addition to all of the normal troubles of growing up.

A Pew study reported on yesterday shows some interesting information for Facebook and how teens are using (and not using) the social media site. As Emily Babay writes for Philly.com, “as Facebook has vastly broadened its reach, teens say they’re less enthusiastic about the social-networking site.” What does this lesser enthusiasm entail? Mostly it’s the fact that adults are the fastest growing users on the site.

Facebook may have started out as a majority of younger users, but it is long past that. Now the site is truly more social and more representative of the population. With that, teens have to spend a lot more time managing the information that goes public on Facebook. The report mentions that teens “dislike the increasing number of adults on the site, get annoyed when their Facebook friends share inane details,” and ultimately are tired of handling excessive drama.

But Teens Love Twitter 

Twitter is on the flipside of this relaxing of Facebook enthusiasm by teens. As Mike Isaac implies in his piece for All Things D, “Facebook … just ain’t cool anymore” and Twitter may be starting to fill that coolness factor.

Now, upwards of 25% of teens online use Twitter which is up from about 12% last year. I find it interesting that Twitter began primarily with adults, but is now attracting teens, and the opposite is true for Facebook. Facebook definitely needs to ensure that teens’ enthusiasm for its service doesn’t wane. Currently the dislike of Facebook isn’t affecting user activity but it very well could.

Those teens will be adults before we know it, and the consumers that businesses and agencies rely on Facebook to target might have to think twice in the future if those same consumers are focused on Twitter and other platforms. Mike nails part of the problem in an important line from the report, saying that Facebook “is sometimes seen as a utility and an obligation rather than an exciting new platform that teens can claim as their own.”

Teens and Social Media Will Always Have a Relationship

For businesses whose primary markets are the younger crowds (and there are many of them) there’s a small lesson in that last quote from the report. Teens like to feel separate and special, and we can see this in action as they shy away from Facebook. Facebook includes everyone and it’s not directly focused on teens as much as they wanted it to be. Anyone trying to reach younger consumers should consider being direct and exclusive with them. Don’t clump them up into a broad marketing or advertising campaign.

After all, Jessica Guynn informs us that “just 9% of teens said they were concerned about how their information is being collected.” Knowing how to target future consumers won’t be hard. The data is there and will increasingly become better. But will businesses and agencies in the future be able to reach these teens? All I know is that it may take some perspective adjusting once these teens become young professionals and adults.

Do you think teens will move even more towards Twitter and away from Facebook?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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