Whatever you think you know about social is probably going to change

by Ron on January 21, 2014

Young people staring at smartphones

When it comes to social media, the times they are a changin’ and if young people are any indication, the future doesn’t look good for Facebook.

Let’s start with a little context. Facebook has suddenly become the social network for old people. We went there to keep up with our teens, and guess what they did? They left. Nobody wants to share a social network with their parents. That’s just so lame.

In fact, Huffington Post reports that a recent study by iStrategyLabs found that there are 3 million fewer teens on Facebook today than just three years ago. Part of that could be due to population, but part of it is that Facebook just isn’t all that anymore.

My own high school senior reports he still uses Facebook, but very little. His  sister, 3.5 years older, still uses it. You can see the changes over time reflected in my household.

Just last week, Ad Age writer, Victor Pineiro wrote about his experience working with a group of eighth graders. Pineiro polled the class on their social media habits and found just two of 120 kids he asked, use Facebook. That means that the generation 3.5 years behind my son has essentially given up on Facebook. What’s more, these kids didn’t even know the term social media. They didn’t have to label it because for them it was omnipresent as the air that they breathe.

What were they using? His results were: “Instagram: 115; Twitter: 85; Vine: 85; Snapchat: 80; Facebook: 2. My son is using all of these tools except Vine. This could mean Vine is gaining with younger kids or it could be something that’s big at this school.

What does that have to do with your mid-size business? It means you have to be thinking about the shifting tastes of the younger audiences. It won’t be long before my son’s group is in the workforce and if you’re using yesterday’s channels to market to them, you’ll be as lost as folks who are still using print ad campaigns.

You need to be experimenting with how you can use the newer channels such as Instagram and Snapchat to deliver content where these young people are in context. Just the other day I heard my son’s friend ask him if he had seen her Snapchat story. This is a way of building a story with multiple snaps and there’s an opportunity there for marketers to deliver authentic looking content to the service where the target audiences are going to be.

I can hear you saying, but I’m not marketing to teens, but remember just a few years ago teens owned Facebook and very few working adults were on there, but as the first wave of Facebook users entered the workforce that changed.

Today, that Huffington Post story reports the 55+ demographic has exploded, growing by an astonishing 84 percent. That may be fine for you now. You don’t have to shut down your Facebook and Twitter campaigns, but you should be aware that they aren’t the only game in town anymore, and if you only concentrate on them, some time in the not too distant future, probably very soon, you are going to playing with yesterday’s playbook.

Photo Credit: (c) Can Stock Photo

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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