While Facebook remains the undisputed king of social networks with 1.6 billion Monthly Active Users (MAUs), recent studies have shown an increasing shift to messaging and auto-delete apps such as Kik, FB Messenger, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. A 2015 study by TIME had show that 11 million high school and college aged teens left Facebook between 2011 and 2014, a number that has since increased. While this may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to total MAUs, a study released this past August by Pew Research showed that 49% of smartphone owners between age 18-29 use a messaging app while 41% use a automatically delete app. These “narrowcast” apps were clearly preferred to traditional publicly accessible platforms such as Pinterest and LinkedIn.
While 70% surveyed did admit they use Facebook once a day and Pew did not break out age groups, the younger demographic answered they were logging in to simply see what others were posting as opposed to creating new content. With the surge in users aged 65+, Facebook has certainly lost some of its cool factor with the teenage demographic. Permanence and privacy are also commonly cited reasons for the shift as teens understand an embarrassing photo posted to a site such as Facebook is never truly deleted and potential employers now routinely search social media during their vetting process.
So is this shift a cause for concern? Well depends on who you ask. For corporations and advertisers who rely on FB “likes” to determine ad spending, less people sharing will ultimately disrupt the precise targeting which allows Facebook to generate the lion’s share of their revenue. Parents are concerned that they are increasingly becoming less able to monitor their children’s activities. Others argue that an increased use of narrowcast apps, limits peoples outside exposure to news and ideas that differ from their current beliefs leading to possible toxic situations. On the other hand advocates for increased privacy on the Internet laud these apps as a way to stop government and big data monitoring.
- From a corporate standpoint, do you believe this trend is a real concern or simply a demographic shift that can be solved as apps like Snapchat monetize?
- From a social aspect, do you believe there should be concern a younger generation could become potentially “closed off” from the different outlets by increased use of narrowcast apps?