Marketers tend to be flexible people who move around to different platforms easily because the audience moves. But many marketers in this case mix up strategy and tactics. So when earlier this year news came out that Facebook usage amongst youngsters was declining, many moved away. Chances are they now move back after reading about Forrester’s numbers, which claim that Facebook is far from dead for the youngsters. The most important lessons for marketers however is not the lesson that Facebook isn’t dead yet, it’s the type of content youngsters want to see. Regardless of the platform.
Facebook still popular amongst kids
Forrester now reports that kids do like Facebook after all. Out of over 4,500 kids in the age of 12 to 17 that Forrester talked to, a third says ‘they use Facebook all the time’ and three quarters says they at least use Facebook once a month. Now that doesn’t seem like a lot, but Forrester also looked at other social apps like WhatsApp and Instagram and together they don’t reach Facebook’s numbers. Kids are definitely using Facebook (as an app) more than any other app. Doesn’t this contradict with what we’ve heard in the past 6 months? Wasn’t Facebook losing traffic and losing the youngsters? Indeed it does. And before we jump to any conclusions we should really digest what is being said properly. The other reports weren’t wrong. But there is nuance for everything. In their blog post Forrester clearly states that there is a slight decline in Facebook users. But they also state that the drops are small. And even though there is decline, decline doesn’t mean Facebook suddenly isn’t popular anymore, you have to see the numbers in perspective. So even though Facebook is seeing a (small) drop, Facebook is still the most used application / network.
But wait… there is more
It’s easy to just conclude ‘youngsters are on Facebook after all’ now, but something interesting is going on with the numbers which will help us understand more about these youngsters. If you look at Forrester’s Graph above you will notice that YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine all “beat” WhatsApp in usage numbers. Apparently WhatsApp is becoming less important than it used to be, though Forrester tells us that WhatsApp is generally less popular in the US, where these numbers apply to. We saw many leave WhatsApp when Facebook bought the app, could this be an indication of something? Especially if you look at the higher numbers for Snapchat and even Vine. This could suggest ‘privacy’ is an issue, but more importantly: Snapchat, Vine, YouTube and Instagram numbers show imagery, whether its video or pictures, definitely is important for the youngsters. Interesting little fact off course is that both WhatsApp and Instagram are now owned by Facebook…
What does it mean for us marketers? The real lessons we should learn
So what does this research mean for us? Do we need to change strategies again? Not entirely. The strategy should always be platform independent so if your strategy can’t handle changing numbers it’s wrong anyway. But at least the numbers do tell us we shouldn’t rule out Facebook just yet. Besides that the most important lesson here is not that Facebook is still important, it’s the type of content that youngsters seem to prefer: visual content. That is what should be on every marketers mind.