Stop the news feeds! Young teens realize Facebook isn’t the only game in town

Stop the presses! Or in this case, the news feeds! Facebook recently revealed that younger teens aren’t using the site as often as they once did. Should this matter to public affairs professionals? Absolutely. Any long-term communications planning should take into account the fact that emerging social media platforms are gaining a significant following and pulling eyes away from Facebook in the process.

Gone are the days when Facebook was a one-stop-shop that met everyone’s social media needs. Sure, there was a time when everyone got their news from ABC, NBC, and CBS, but that was before they had options. Facebook is the social media equivalent of the Big Three – it’s not going anywhere anytime soon but sites and apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine are starting to look extremely attractive to young users who are looking to play the field a little when it comes to their social media usage.

If you’re currently asking yourself, “What in the world is Snapchat?” just think how out of touch you’ll be in 5 to 10 years when those teens are your consumers – or voter base. Understanding why teens are making the choices they are now is of paramount importance to remaining relevant in the long term. Furthermore, awareness of the latest social media trends is key to reaching the right audience in the right places through a combination of advertising across multiple platforms.

An October survey conducted by Piper Jaffray shows that Twitter has surpassed Facebook as the most important social media network for teens. In only a year’s time, Facebook’s popularity has fallen 19% amongst that age group, and it’s now tied with Instagram (which Mark Zuckerberg and the folks at Facebook also own). An equally significant finding from the survey shows a 15% increase in the popularity of “other” social media platforms over the past year.

So who exactly is this “other”? Well, Snapchat for starters. It seems that if you tell kids often enough that their social media footprint is permanent they turn to a messaging app that causes photos and videos to “self destruct” shortly after they’re received (spoiler alert: there are ways to save and recover these files). In The Wall Street Journal’s analysis of “5 sites teens flock to instead of Facebook,” Quentin Fottrell notes that 350 million snapchats are sent every day. The sender decides how long they want the message to last – anywhere from 1 to 10 seconds.

Though Snapchat’s value proposition of unrecorded messaging isn’t foolproof, the fact that teens are becoming more conscious of privacy is definitely something to keep in mind down the road. Teens may be shifting away from building a comprehensive record of their personal lives online, which almost anyone – including future employers, consumer database companies, and parents – can potentially access.

Fottrell also includes Pheed, PicsArt, Tumblr, and Vine as sites and apps that are gaining traction with teens. Astute communications professionals will certainly be keeping an eye on these and other platforms in the coming years. Brands like Oreo and Tide have already started publishing short videos on Vine. And as Instagram starts to slowly roll out ads, early reports show that a sponsored photo by Michael Kors resulted in close to 34,000 new followers for the brand in less than a day (despite outcries from Instagram purists).

Though we can’t know with certainty which platforms will be popular one year or even one week from now, it’s nevertheless important to closely monitor trends and speculate on future social media use. Comprehensive communications plans should include a social component that takes into account the diversification of social media usage, rather than relying solely on Facebook.

Stop the news feeds! Young teens realize Facebook isn’t the only game in town

Stop the presses! Or in this case, the news feeds! Facebook recently revealed that younger teens aren’t using the site as often as they once did. Should this matter to public affairs professionals? Absolutely. Any long-term communications planning should take into account the fact that emerging social media platforms are gaining a significant following and pulling eyes away from Facebook in the process.
Gone are the days when Facebook was a one-stop-shop that met everyone’s social media needs. Sure, there was a time when everyone got their news from ABC, NBC, and CBS, but that was before they had options. Facebook is the social media equivalent of the Big Three – it’s not going anywhere anytime soon but sites and apps …

Continue reading >

The Intersection

The Intersection is an in-depth series designed to help you anticipate and prepare for public policy challenges and opportunities.

View the Intersection

The latest from the blog

See all posts >