Over the last week, investors have been spooked by the news that teenagers are deserting Facebook in droves. In July, Mark Zuckerberg flatly denied that there was an exodus of youth from his social media channel – but last week, his CFO David Ebersman was forced to stand up and admit that it was true. This comes at a time when research is indicating that Twitter is fast overtaking Facebook among teens. Click HERE to see that research. Only a year ago, 42% of American teens said Facebook was their top social media destination – that’s down to 23% now. In contrast, Twitter is ahead on 26% – a mild increase over the last year but benefiting from a major collapse in Facebook’s popularity.
There is, however, a silver lining to the big black cloud hovering over Zuckerberg’s empire – that is his decision to swallow Instagram. Because Instagram’s percentage take of US teens was 12% a year back and has now climbed to 23% – tying with Facebook. Which means, according to my maths – that Zuckerberg is still cornering the teen market, only they’re uploading images to Instagram as opposed to updating on Facebook. The wily digital entrepreneur saw this coming – hence the acquisition. And adding video to Instagram is an equally smart move that is crucifying first video entrant, Vine.
So before journalists start dancing gleefully on Zuckerberg’s supposed grave – as many did last week – they should take a closer look at market movements. Because one way or another, he’s still capturing that young market.
However – from a business standpoint – there is one alarming note to register. And that is Zuckerberg’s reaction to the flight of teens from Facebook. He said last week that news feed advertisements – which have driven revenue – may be limited, presumably to stop teens being turned off. However, given the success of Facebook in generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue through ads, the company needs to be careful not to irritate existing and potential advertisers.
And could one even put a heretical thought out there – so what if some teens who don’t like ads leave? Also – another heresy – why not embrace a 20s, 30s, 40s and upwards audience on Facebook – they have money and leisure time. There are millions of retired baby boomers who still want to consume, buy cars, go on exotic holidays, etc – why chase after penniless Millennials?
PS: Tumblr and Google+ score a measly 3% each with US teens – oh dear.
- Teens To Facebook: “Okay, Bye!” (readwrite.com)
- Facebook Is No Longer The Most Popular Social Network For Teens (FB) (businessinsider.com)
- Facebook Admits Teens Are Using The Social Network Less (huffingtonpost.com)
- Facebook to Limit Ads as Younger Teens Using Site Less – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)