The Problem With Facebook: Young People Really Are Social Networking Elsewhere

Remember yesterday when I was talking about Facebook’s “young person” problem? It turns out, there’s actually data to back this up. It turns out, there was actually an article in TIME that I didn’t realize had data when I was writing my post yesterday:

According to iStrategy, Facebook has 4,292,080 fewer high-school aged users and 6,948,848 college-aged users than it did in 2011.

That amounts to more than 11 million users gone in the past 3 years. While Facebook has more than 1 billion people, so 11 million might not seem like much, but is it a trend? That is, should this be something that the folks over at Facebook should be worried about. Well, there’s a handy graphic that can also be found in the TIME article, (but it comes from iStrategy):

Two of the cells I want to draw your attention to are already conveniently highlighted in red: the ages 13-17 and 18-24. If you’ll notice, both of these age groups are experiencing negative growth. Of particular noteworthiness is the 13-17 age group, which is down 25% over the last 3 years. Again, as I said earlier, Facebook’s user base is rather large right now, so it might not have that big of an effect anytime soon, but it is something to watch out for.

In the article, the author also points out that part of the reason people advertise with Facebook isn’t necessarily for the volume of its users, but because of all the information that it has on its users making microtargeting that much more effective. Maybe this information is enough to overcome the decline in new users, who knows. As I said yesterday, if I were part of Facebook’s team, I would be worried about the continued decline in my user base — especially because it’s the younger folks who are leaving. Why?

Pretty soon, these young folks are going to be reaching those prime marketing age groups (18-34) and if they’re already not using Facebook, that could be bad news. In fact, if they’re not using Facebook, they’re probably using some other social network to communicate and that is where the marketing dollars are going to go. I suppose only time will tell.

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