I think it’s bizarre how many of us get really frustrated when Facebook decides it’s time to tweak things. It’s as though the man-hour...

Mum, Dad and the Dog are on Facebook – it’s time to go


I think it’s bizarre how many of us get really frustrated when Facebook decides it’s time to tweak things. It’s as though the man-hours poured into the platform give us some self-ordained right for things to be kept just how we like them. Facebook have been clever with their updates, which despite being vast (see infographic) have been performed without really impacting the overall design and usability. The objections to change, often initially met with derision and hysteria, are typically forgotten then adopted as though they were always there. This has given the platform great consistency and fostered a robust relationship because we’re increasingly finding that we can do more and more on Facebook without having to leave.

However, the Californian giant is entering unfamiliar territory and facing a very grown-up challenge, so to speak. The younger generation are no longer refreshing the newsfeed like the rest of us, but instead spending more time on other social media and apps, typically those which are more specific and specialized rather than all encompassing, such as Instagram, Tumblr and more recently, Snapchat and Pheed. Is 'just not being Facebook' a breath of fresh air for teens or how much more is there to it?

Recently valued at $800mTumblr, the “blog-meets social network” is experiencing the most intense growth, overtaking Facebook across the 13-25 category. The ability to be more expressive and the simple truth that not ALL your family and friends are on Facebook are reasons that give Tumblr a more personal and addictive feel. There's certainly less need to worry about how you present yourself in platforms other than Facebook, safer in the knowledge that grandparents and the wide-ranging assortment of family friends can't track your every move. Privacy issues aside, it's worth also highlighting why this is a problem. Despite feeling 100% adult and no longer concerned about chatting to aunties/uncles etc, I clearly remember how much I resented my parents' friend requests about 5 or so years ago. It certainly made it feel a whole lot less cool and exclusive, just how students must have felt when it was rolled out to us gobby teenagers.

Pheed is a combination of Twitter meets Instagram, its take up driven by a surge in celebrity adoption. Snapchat on the otherhand is an app dominated by teens that allows users to instantly send messages, photos or videos that disappear once they've been viewed. Unsurprisingly the content shared is often morally questionable in nature, but the bigger picture is that despite these platforms/apps performing some kind of unique purpose, it's far from revolutionary. What's interesting to consider is how these newbies are all much lighter and faster in terms of their content. Pheed CEO O.D. Kobo explains “No young people want to open up their timeline and read a novel. It’s not quick enough. The younger demographic today is much more into multimedia". So perhaps attention span has something to do with it? If so, surely Zuckerbeg shouldn't be so concerned, because they'll inevitably move onto more substantial, mainstream content - right?

Facebook is still the most prominent hangout, viewed by most as an incredibly enabling tool for all ages, and it's this utilitarian benefit which is its lifeblood. Perhaps its critical mass which triggered the cool kids to quit is just an inevitable cost, just as fashion becomes unfashionable when it too has been overused. Nevertheless it will be of concern to shareholders who've invested at a premium price and will expect the issue to be addressed. My guess is there'll be renewed focus from the Californian giant on acquiring up-and-coming popular platforms external to Facebook such as the proposed takeover of What's App. Either that or they'll come up with another fantastic ad campaign like the last one!

Rich Anderson

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