Marketing to Young Women: Is Facebook Fatigue Real?

August 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

fbfatiguefatiguelkjhbgIt was all over the news.  Facebook fatigue. Beginning in February of this year, studies and articles surfaced regarding the current state of Facebook and the apparent decline in use and overall membership. While company leaders deny its validity, the studies seem to tell a different tale.

In a study done by the Pew Research Center in February, Pew found that 61% of Facebook users who responded had taken an extended, multi-week break from Facebook in the previous year.  In the same study, researchers found that of Facebook users aged 18-29, 40% said they planned on using Facebook less in the coming year.

Why does this matter? Teen and young adult Facebook users make up an $819 billion consumer segment whose opinions are often influenced by what they see on social media.  With less of that segment on Facebook, advertisers might need to find a way to bring their ads to other increasingly popular social media outlets, causing Facebook to lose ad sales.  Overall, this could affect the way companies, people, and advertisers interact with the young adult demographic.

My favorite take on Facebook came from a Mashable Post:  I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook.  The 13-year old cites that her friends are on social media but they prefer Snapchat, Instagram and Vine.  Some of the reasons for the fail of Facebook for this generation are the number of parents online, bullying and the fact that Facebook is just trying too hard! 

Many cite the influx of older users as the cause of the deterrence, particularly the increase in use by parents and grandparents of current young users.  Similarly, people cite that Facebook has issues of privacy.  Privacy is an issue.  TRUSTe revealed that 94 percent of U.S. online adults want the ability to control who collects their personal information and tracks their activities online, not what Facebook intends.  In a 2012 Associated Press-CNBC poll, three of every five Facebook users said they had little or no faith in Facebook protecting their personal information. But more surprising, in the same report, an astonishing 51 percent of young adults consider Facebook a passing fad.

Well, Facebook is a fad with a billion users.  The truth is that social media is constantly evolving, and each generation will find its own place online.  Facebook may make changes and attract different audiences, but the truth is Facebook is probably not going the way of My Space anytime soon. There are still a billion people on Facebook and many businesses are built on it – like the youth-friendly Instagram.

But for marketers, it is important to understand the usage patterns of our target audiences and be aware of new patterns developing.  I always advise clients to spend about 10% of their budget experimenting with new media tactics.

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