The Changing Face of Facebook

Adweek.com recently reported that the 18-24 demo is losing its lust for Facebook, or at least not using the site as much as they had in the past. Recent data from comScore shows a consistent 3 month decline among 18-24s, who may perceive Facebook as losing its “cool,” now that everyone (including your grandmother) is using it. If young adults have to start moderating what they post to Facebook (or figure out filtering), they may be less likely to “lifestream” all the details of their day-to-day lives on facebook.com.
ComScore isn’t the only organization to put out this notion. Mindshare did their own study last summer and reported that a little more than half of 18-24 year olds agreed that “sites like Facebook are diluting the quality of relationships.” Approximately 40% of them said they now use sites that are more focused on specific interests, such as music or movies. Mindshare also enlisted their Scout Network to see what was really happening in the trenches. They reported back that many younger users were using Facebook more for organizing events, and less for friendships and status updates.
Is Facebook destined to lose its cool and settle in as a site for the older crowd? Currently, the average age of a Facebook user is 33–not old by any means, but older than it used to be. I think it is a little premature to think that Facebook has lost its appeal with 18-24 year olds. While they may be using the site in different ways, they are still using it — and most likely from mobile sources that aren’t accounted for in the clickstream data from comScore.
So I wouldn’t expect a re-think of marketing strategies for social networking sites just yet. Facebook is still the most popular social networking site, and can provide marketers with enormous amounts of key profile data directly from users. Even if the decline amongst 18-24s did prove to be a long-term trend, and there were a large shift in usage away from the site, the current number of enrollees is so massive that there would be plenty left on board–though the strategies to reach them will have to adapt. It will be interesting, however, to see if Twitter keeps gaining that younger crowd, and if status updates to Twitter are supplementing Facebook–or replacing it altogether.

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