As Facebook has gotten older, so has its user base. Industry watchers have been saying for years that younger users aren’t using Facebook as enthusiastically as their older siblings, parents, and grandparents are. This month, eMarketer reports that the decline is actually proceeding at a greater rate than expected, with growth among 12 to 17-year-olds and 18 to 24-year-olds decreasing by 5.6% and 5.8% in 2018.
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Last year, ReCode reported that the concern with the flight of younger users is that Facebook will lose an entire generation of users who could be served ads in addition to the content they signed up for. All was not lost, however, as it seemed clear that many of these younger users were using Instagram or Snapchat instead. As Instagram is a Facebook product, brands that already had an advertising presence on Facebook simply needed to extend their marketing efforts onto the new platform.
Easier said than done, of course. The fact that both platforms are owned by the same group of people doesn’t mean that the content that’s effective and appealing on one platform will resonate on another. And in the interim, Snapchat’s gaining new users at a faster rate. eMarketer predicts that Snapchat will gain 1.9 million users under 25 this year, while Instagram gains only 1.6 million.
The question is what all of this means to your business. As always, we begin with your customer profile. How old is your customer? If your target market is under 25, focusing your marketing efforts solely on Facebook may be a mistake. However, it’s important to remember, especially when we’re focused on the younger end of that age scale, that the target customer may not ultimately be the person making the purchasing decisions. Parents and caregivers are more likely to be on Facebook, and it’s where they’ll research your brand. It’s important in these instances to maintain an effective presence on multiple platforms.
Pay attention to the data captured by Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Business accounts have access to insights about users location, gender, lifestyle, interests and more. You can compare this data to your customer profiles to see if your assumptions about the market are correct. Additionally, it will help you identify areas where making an extra outreach effort can yield rich rewards. The data will also tell you if the time spent on any given platform – whether that’s Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram – is worth the investment. Don’t make your decision based on what the headlines say. Rely on what your data tells you.