Facebook's Q3 2013 earnings report made big news. One reason is because Facebook just completed its first $2 billion quarter. The most provocative headlines, however, focused on news that daily use by younger teens decreased in Q3, confirming what some pundits have been stating for some time: Teens don't like Facebook. In fact, teens may be the harbingers of Facebook's demise.
So does a decline in teen engagement mark the beginning of the end for Facebook? No.
Facebook has almost full penetration among teens, and its Instagram platform has been named the most important platform by 23% of teens. In addition, Facebook has made major strides, particularly with its mobile messaging app and mobile advertising, to encourage more teen usage.
Growing Into Facebook
Just because teens don't turn to Facebook on a daily basis as much as they used to doesn't mean they've given up on the platform. As a group, they're more nimble than the rest of us, eager to try new platforms, especially if it means getting away from the prying eyes of adults. Other platforms like Snapchat are not being used instead of Facebook. They're being used in addition to it.
But at the end of the day, Facebook offers utility no other platform can, and that's its ability to connect what is essentially the world on a single platform. Teens value putting up walls between their groups and the rest of the world, but as they grow older, Facebook will be there waiting to connect them with classmates they've lost touch with, family members they want to send photos with and so on. Facebook is there when they enter 'Facebook mode.' Other platforms are there when they don't.
Facebook isn't exciting for them. It's not exciting for a lot of us, but we turn to it because of the social investment we and others have made in the the platform that haven't been made in others. Teens are no different. Facebook offers something no other platform can.
Have a Future Focus
Teens offer new challenges for marketers. They're fickle, and they have no problem trying new things. While this group will use Facebook today and in the future, their social media behavior will likely be more complex and nuanced than older generations.
Marketers should use this information regarding Facebook and teens as a reason to understand their behavior and what they gain from using social media. That allows marketers to be just as nimble (or almost) as they are, anticipating the platforms that will fulfill their needs and how their brands may be part of the experience.
Don't dismiss Facebook. Use this insight as a reason to understand teens today and prepare for tomorrow.