Does Facebook Smell Like Teen Spirit?

Facebook turns ten this year, but is the social network still “cool?” Not for teens—at least according to the numbers. Facebook is still the “King” of social networks in terms of users, but with fewer teens registering for/using the app, another network or app could take the crown.

Older generations might think that getting a Facebook at thirteen is a rite of passage, as that’s the minimum age required to register for the network, but Facebook might not be the app/network that fits into their lives. For desktop-using adults who like to keep and share their photos and connect with people they haven’t seen in years—decades, even—Facebook makes a lot of sense; but the site loses some real appeal to the teens who are the true mobile generation. Their tablets and smartphones operate almost as appendages—helping them make any dull moment into a lasting memory—and the apps they use reflect that. While adults age 55+ are flocking to Facebook, teens (who’ve had some exposure to the social network in some degree for a majority of their lives) are investing in younger, hipper, cooler social media sites and apps that are more relevant to them.

Trends are showing that teens prefer the more visual apps—Instagram (which is Facebook owned), Vine, SnapChat and Keek. Each of these apps tells parents, marketers and older/wiser generations a little bit about this young demographic. With all of these apps, people can clearly see the attention spans dwindling—even if a lot of time went into prepping the Vines and Instagram videos, the stories are told within seconds (then again, so are commercials, so we’ll move on). SnapChat takes the dwindling attentions a step further. Each photo/video has a life of one to ten seconds—and then it disappears forever (unless SnapChat, which stores all the photos, decides to resurrect them…or someone pulls the taboo and screenshots the photo). All this low attention begs the question, what’s pulling their attention away from their screens: the real world or another screen?

Perhaps it’s one of the fastest growing apps: WeChat. Although it sounds a lot like other social networking apps with its photo/video sharing, messaging and location sharing, the app also includes voice and video messaging. Above all, WeChat has taken a stance on user privacy (something other social networks and apps, cough…SnapChat…cough, could note). Privacy seems to be something this generation is keenly aware of.

Even if Facebook isn’t all the rage among this demographic, it doesn’t look like it’s on the outs just yet. After all, the network has managed to stay relevant for ten years. The interesting thing will be to see how Facebook morphs to become more relevant to the younger users. While Facebook will likely stick around for a while, will the mobile teens of today still be using the aforementioned apps tomorrow? Will the apps rise to become the next Facebook or linger awkwardly like MySpace or disappear almost entirely like Xanga? Who knows—but we do know that this young, mobile and perhaps slightly more private generation will be a big influence. Perhaps when Grandma and Grandpa start to snap them from Bingo night, they’ll move on to the next latest and greatest app.

Cover Photo Source: dolphfyn / Shutterstock.com

Cassandra is a Content Manager and Developer at SJG. She earned her BA from Fontbonne University in 2011. Outside the office, she enjoys an active, healthy and well-rounded lifestyle including reading, writing, running, golfing, watching films, listening to music, taking photographs, and consuming media and social media.