This weekend, while watching the 2015 Masters tournament with some 20 something year old friends, our conversation ventured into the realm of social media.
One of my good friends, whose opinion I generally trust, stated (quite confidently I might add):
“Facebook is dead.”
No one else in the room offered any retort. I found myself contemplating that statement deeply. While I don’t totally agree that Facebook as a platform is “dead” as a whole, I do believe that we are entering a brave new world of social media – one that is much more personalized, much less about who has the most followers, and much more about truly connecting and staying in touch with your social circles – at least, for some. Allow me to explain.
The reason we often look to Facebook as being of significance is because of its user base, its longevity as a platform, and its effectiveness as a marketing platform for businesses – all of these points are still true. With a billion users worldwide, Facebook is still the most effective platform for reaching a broad audience.
I often liken Facebook to TV – both offer broad reach, and are entrenched mediums for certain age demographics. But, just like TV, Facebook is no longer the go-to platform for the under 25 demographic.
In today’s world, we are no longer reliant upon the television set to consume television content. This is shown by the large number of what are now referred to as “cord-cutters” – people who only own an internet connection, and will never pay for bundled cable again.
As it is with TV, so it is with Facebook.
I had a great conversation with my 14 year old sister this weekend as well. I asked her, “What social media platforms do you use?”
Her response: “Snapchat.”
After probing further, I came to realize that this might truly be the only platform she uses. Not only that, it’s the only platform her friends use as well (some use Instagram, but it’s mainly Snapchat).
This shouldn’t be surprising. Facebook is no longer “cool” to the younger generation. When your parents are using something, it’s inherently not “cool.” But that’s not what’s driving the exodus from Facebook.
On a platform like Snapchat, you choose to connect with only the people that matter most to you. It’s a much more niche platform that allows a user to connect with a much smaller, and much more engaged, audience. There is significantly less “information overload” on platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram.
Throw into the mix amazing new social networks such as Periscope, Meerkat, Fyuse, and messaging networks such as Kik, and you’ve got a recipe for a Facebookless generation.
So what does this mean for marketers and business owners?
1. Don’t give up on Facebook just yet. A vast majority of your audience is still there, and you can reach them with messages that actually matter still. In terms of cost per thousand impressions for an advertising dollar, Facebook is the most effective platform still (and will be for the foreseeable future).
2. Now, more than ever, you need to understand who you are trying to reach with your marketing and advertising messages.
3. Use Facebook to augment your marketing efforts elsewhere. Just because kids these days are leaving Facebook doesn’t mean it’s time for you to abandon all of your hard work. All this means is you must be more targeted and strategic in your approach.
At the end of the day, there will always be new shiny toys to play with. New platforms, new technologies. As such, our once shiny toys become dull and forgotten. Yes, Facebook will die eventually – it just might take 20 to 30 years for it to go the way of Myspace.
So buckle up. Facebook is NOT dead – it’s just not the only place to spread your brand message, and that’s a GREAT thing.