How brand strategy firms respond to people un-friending Facebook

Understand why young people are un-friending Facebook and how your brand strategy firm should be responding on behalf of your brand.

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Whether you’re a top brand strategy firm — or merely a casual social media user — you’ve probably noticed that young people are un-friending Facebook in droves in favor of Instagram and other platforms.

The statistics are enough to keep Mark Zuckerberg up at night: According to Pew Research, 71% of Americans aged 13 to 17 reported using Facebook in 2015. By 2018, that number had dropped to just 51%. Meanwhile, Instagram’s numbers have reversed among teens, rising to 72% today from 52% in 2015. Snapchat and Youtube have also seen sizable increases.

So what do these platforms possess that Facebook lacks? And how should brands, like yours, respond?

Let’s take a closer look.

Why Facebook has become “platform non grata” among younger users

One of the reasons why Facebook has fallen out of favor with younger users is “context collapse”. This concept describes how the various identities that people possess (the way they choose to present themselves to others) overlap and sometimes conflict across networks.

In the case of Facebook, it works like this: Someone creates an account, and friends a few hundred people. Some are close friends offline, but most are merely acquaintances or friends of friends — people we rarely interact with in person. Over time, Facebook users may grow uncomfortable with the idea of sharing personal stories or information with people they rarely see or don’t know that well. Yet they may still wish to share with people in their network who are closer to them.

Another example: A Facebook user who has friended work colleagues may feel uncomfortable with sharing photos and video of a recent night out celebrating. The context — and the intended audiences — are in conflict.

Facebook has made attempts to remedy this issue (allowing users to designate audiences for posts and create smaller groups that friends can be sorted into). Yet these are hardly the kind of simple, frictionless solutions that appeal to younger users.

This desire to avoid sharing with people on the periphery of one’s social circle is even more pronounced among younger social media users. Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat are better suited to this tendency by their very design, which focuses on more narrowly tailored sharing and smaller groups.

Additionally, Facebook’s newsfeed — once an incredible innovation in its own right — has become a source of frustration for many users, stuffed with old or irrelevant content. The innovative features recently developed by Facebook’s rivals (like stories, stickers, lenses etc.) are much more in tune with how younger people wish to consume content.

How brands should respond

The numbers don’t lie: There is a mass movement away from Facebook by young people, and brand strategy firms need to respond accordingly. If a campaign is needed to target a younger demographic, Instagram, not Facebook, should be the primary platform under consideration. All content (and all business accounts) should, therefore, be optimized for Instagram.

Instagram stories, when used properly, is a powerful tool for reaching younger audiences. The feature has been enormously popular since its 2017 rollout (enough to make Facebook commission its own version) and has deepened engagement, especially among young users. Research shows that Instagram users under 25 are now spending 32 minutes per day on the platform.

By adding polls, links and other features to Instagram stories – and brand strategy firms designing all ads and content in a format that’s optimized for younger viewers — brands can ensure they stay on the right side of recent trends.

How BIGEYE helps brands reach young audiences

It is our mission to stay at the vanguard of important trends. Whether it involves social, marketing, advertising or technology, we’re always focused on what’s next.

If your brand could benefit from a truly forward-focused approach, please reach out today.

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