Is This the End of Social Media?
Why You Need to Rethink Your Social Media Strategy
Social media has been growing from strength to strength, including Facebook. Its influence reaches everything from Internet memes to the traditional news media to our nearest and dearest relationships. We waste more time on our smartphones now than ever before, scrolling and clicking through social media feeds many times a day.
However, a more complex image of today’s social network users appears to have important consequences for the way companies attract customers. As you look more closely at who fuels the development and success of social media platforms, one important demographic seems to not be as active anymore: young people.
A 2019 Edison Research and Triton Digital study reveals that the total usage across all social media platforms by Americans aged 12 to 34 years has either gone down completely or is decreasing. Global Web Index also found that the time spent by millennial and Gen Z viewers on many social networks is stagnant, diminishing or not increasing as it did in the past.
Young people want to be themselves and have real friends based on mutual values after years spent creating carefully crafted identities and collecting online “friends.” They yearn for privacy, security, and a retreat from the millions of users on social media that now involve their parents.
If social networking may sound like a busy airport terminal where everybody is welcome, but few enjoy it, more intimate spaces exist where smaller groups of people are eager to meet around common interests. The best-recognized example is undoubtedly Facebook Groups. YouTube has long been a community-specific platform, especially among teenagers forming communities around their favorite YouTube channels. Instagram’s “close friends” feature has become a resource for certain influencers to post exclusive content and connect with fans for a price. Half of teenagers claim they use Fortnite, a multiplayer game with over 200 million users, to connect with their friends — some of whom they have never encountered in person — who devote much of the week on the game for 6 to 10 hours.
To reach these younger audiences, companies need to understand the often more private and interactive online spaces. They need to define the subgroups and unique aspects of the community into which their brand falls and understand the behaviors of its members. Trying to branch into these communities may require a more nuanced approach, but if you put in the time and effort, gaining their loyalty to your brand can pay off in the long-run.