Recent statistics have shown that Facebook is losing its teen custom to newer, ‘trendier’ social networking applications such as Snapchat and WhatsApp. Stats show that 1 year ago, 42% of teens claimed the social network they valued the most was Facebook, however 6 months ago this dropped to 33% and then plummeted even further to its current low of 23%. Although one-fifth of 15-24 year old British Facebook users have a profile, they are now taking their more serious social networking elsewhere.
Snapchat turned down a £3billion buyout offer from Facebook last month, leaving Facebook and critics startled due to the belief that the money offered was worth more than the application itself. The answer to everyone’s question was soon answered by Snapchat’s CEO who claimed that the money offered was not worth the loss of the long term excitement of the company’s growth opposed to a short term gain.
In response Snapchat’s rejection, Facebook began the development of a new app called Slingshot – very much the same as Snapchat however with a twist. With this, you will be able to view images for a limited time however it is required for the individual to send something in response prior to viewing the shared image. It is hard to understand the sense behind this feature as you would be sending a response prior to knowing what you are actually replying to, however it is expected for this to become clearer upon official release. A version of the app was accidentally posted to the app store however has since been removed.
Facebook originally started out as a college social network, however the original users have now grown up and have filled the Facebook community with generations of users, including teens, parents and even grandparents. With Facebook ageing so swiftly, teens are drawn to social networks such as WhatsApp and Snapchat where the user percentages of over 30’s is extremely low. This is due to teens wanting to post and share freely without being monitored by or connected with parents, family or potential employers.
Snapchat is the most inviting social network, promising ephemeral messaging where everything shared is disposed of and inaccessible. This allows for regular shares of “selfies” and on the go images which can be captured and forgotten in just a moment without the worry of images being stored.
In comparison to Facebook, newer apps mentioned have many more benefits to a teen than Facebook. Despite being free unlike many new apps, Facebook lacks mobile on the go compatibility. Despite having regularly updated mobile phone and tablet applications, Facebook is still slow and badly functional compared to Snapchat and WhatsApp which were designed especially for the compatible use on mobile devices. For an adult, this is unlikely to be seen as an issue as a computer is usually the first source of connection used, whereas teens would seek to use handheld mobile devices for constant updates rather than primarily using and checking a computer which has limited on the go capabilities.
A final reason for lack of teen interest is the heavy use of advertisements. Snapchat and WhatsApp have very few advertisements, making this more appealing. This could be an enormous issue for Facebook, losing them excessive numbers of users – especially since it has recently launched increased adverts and auto-play video ads onto user newsfeeds. Facebook may be required to change their current strategy, otherwise the population on Facebook may become an aging one with low growth and little interest other than family photos and advertisements.