Is Facebook Cool Anymore?

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Socialbakers yesterday released research which suggests that Facebook has lost millions of users - apparently nearly 1.4 million UK accounts have logged off in just one month.

Although it's still the world's largest social network with over a billion users its dominance has come under increasing threat from newer services such as Instagram, Snapchat and of course Twitter. 

The report shows a 4.5% fall in British users with 1.4 million fewer users checking in, Facebook has lost nearly 9 million US monthly visitors in just six months, while users are also switching off in Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Japan – many of Facebook's biggest markets.

So will Facebook go the way of old MySpace? Although it's not likely at this moment in time - they do face a very real problem. 

The main issue being that any natural drop off in numbers in the past has been negated by new users joining the platform, worryingly for Facebook further research is showing us that teenagers are moving away from Facebook and towards "cooler" platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.

Facebook themselves admitted they have a problem in their annual 10-K report:

"We believe that some of our users, particularly our younger users, are aware of and actively engaging with other products and services similar to, or as a substitute for, Facebook. For example, we believe that some of our users have reduced their engagement with Facebook in favor of increased engagement with other products and services such as Instagram. In the event that our users increasingly engage with other products and services, we may experience a decline in user engagement and our business could be harmed."

Blake Ross

Blake Ross

Back in February, Blake Ross, the director of product at Facebook, resigned from the social network after considering the long-term viability of the company and learning that kids don't find Facebook cool anymore.

In his Goodbye Note, he wrote, "I’m leaving because a Forbes writer asked his son’s best friend Todd if Facebook was still cool and the friend said no, and plus none of HIS friends think so either, even Leila who used to love it, and this journalism made me reconsider the long-term viability of the company." Although this may be a tongue-in-cheek statement from Blake - the rumblings are most certainly turning to a crescendo.

We know that teenagers are a pretty good measure of what's "cool." - even if we classify "cool" as simply being an indication of budding social trends - and lately it seems that teens are growing tired of Facebook.

Branch CEO Josh Miller wrote a brilliant blog post at the end of last year titled "10th Grade Tech Trends." where he asks his 15-year-old sister if she still uses Facebook. According to her, teens are using Instagram and Snapchat much more.

"She mentioned that she tries to visit Facebook as infrequently as possible," he wrote. "She only visits Facebook after her Instagram Feed updates have been exhausted."

Miller goes on to say "While much of my childhood was spent instant messaging, on AIM and then Facebook Chat, my sister says she and her friends rarely IM with each other. When you go on Facebook Chat the people you don’t want to talk to are always the ones who immediately chat with you."

So why isn't Facebook "cool" anymore? Could it be that kids are just consciously looking for 'the next big thing' or is Facebook just a space that no longer serves them? Have kids moved away from the "lets share everything with everyone" frame of mind and more towards a "I want to share my intimate things with my very close friends" - there seems to be a sense of privacy and exclusivity with Snapchat for example that Facebook is just too big to serve.

These are all questions that Facebook will need to address.

The good news for Facebook is that teens are still avid Instagram users - a fact that makes the $1 billion takeover of the photo-sharing app a particularly shrewd business move. Perhaps then as soon as Facebook discover how to effectively monetise the app, Zuckerberg will sleep a little more soundly.

Post written by Social Media & Content Manager Steven Owens

Paul Shepherd

I've worked in digital communications for around 15 years, and specialised in social media for the past three. Passionate about new technologies, media, and the impact it has on businesses bottom line, I try to bring that passion to every campaign for every brand we work with.