In 2013, teens got excited about adopting new social networks and as a result Facebook became less popular with younger users. If teens are really the soothsayers of popular technology, then will 2014 be the year that Facebook goes the way of its predecessors Myspace and Friendster? In so many words no; Facebook has a few unique advantages over the dead networks of the past as well as the newer kids on the block.
The de facto social platform
Though at its peak Myspace exceeded 100 million accounts, the still growing Facebook has about 1.2 billion active monthly users. There is no dismissing the fact that 94% of teens have a Facebook account and adoption among older demographics continues to see stable growth. In many ways this ubiquity has made Facebook less cool to teens, but more obligatory to communicate with family, friends, for organizing events, and sharing photo albums.
Still the most time on site
In 2013, the pew research center found that only 23% of teens said Facebook was their most important social network, compared to 42% in 2012, with Twitter in the top spot. Though Facebook’s popularity has declined among teens, actual time they spend on the site remains number one. When it comes down to it, teens may not be as excited about Facebook as some newer networks, but they continue to devote the most time and energy to the platform.
‘Too big to fail’
During its peak in 2007, MySpace was valued at 12 billion. Today, Facebook’s market cap is over 130 billion. On top of this direct financial investment, marketers have spent billions building up influence on the network, and users have devoted billions of hours to creating digital representations of themselves. There is simply too much invested in Facebook to simply fade into oblivion like Friendster and Myspace did.
Facebook reacts to feedback
Diminishing exposure to promoted posts and ads with increasingly intelligent algorithms that cater to the interests of individuals is one of the proactive steps Facebook has made to help keep squeezing more money out of their platform from spoiling the user experience. Facebook’s 20/80 ad to text ratio and improved control over individual privacy are two others.
Tweens are only a small part of the picture
A recent report found that those in the UK between 16 and 18 are spending less time on Facebook, and many point to this a major sign of Facebook’s coming demise. Although this is a relatively small scale survey it does seem that on the whole Facebook is becoming less popular with teens, even if their time spent on the site remains strong. But what is more important, unlike during Myspace and Friendster’s heyday, Facebook continues to see big growth with older users; the ones who are more likely to buy in response to ads. So not only is Facebook still growing, it is also being readily adopted by a less fickle and more valuable audience.
2014 won’t be the year of Facebook’s downfall, so if you’ve been putting off serious investment in social, waiting for the next big thing, you’ll have to keep waiting for a while longer.