One of the key features of the multi-channel marketing ecosystem that we discuss regularly is that it is not static. The proliferation of channels means that this is an ecosystem that is always changing. The hot social network of one day may not be the hot network the next day. MySpace learned that lesson all too well.
This is why we’re closely following Facebook, the pre-eminent social media site. The numbers of users is staggering, but there are signs that perhaps Facebook isn’t the darling of the social media world anymore.
Like Nike, Facebook seems to be seeing some issues with brand engagement. The above linked infographic notes a 7.37% decline in number of active users in the US over the most recent six month period. That alone would be a cause for concern, but digging deeper into the details reveals other concerns. Facebook doesn’t have a truly young audience anymore as it did in the early days when it was a college only social network. At this point, 65% of Facebook users are 35+ and the average age of a Facebook user is 41 and climbing.
Teens and even 20 somethings aren’t necessarily seeing Facebook today the same way that it was seen just 3 years ago. We noted here last month about Pheed becoming popular with teens, but other social networks are driving engagement, such as Tumblr. Amongst those in their early to mid 20s in my social circle, I’m hearing about and seeing instances of less time spent on Facebook. I’m noticing fewer status updates and less responsiveness when I send messages to some. I wouldn’t say that this is a sample size that is statistically valid, but it bears mentioning because I sense that the anecdotes of today could be reflected in the statistics of tomorrow. The infographic isn’t indicating a mass closure of accounts, but global statistics are showing that the growth in the user base is coming more from other continents than North America. North America is displaying the typical characteristics of a mature market.
There are still approximately 1 billion global active users of Facebook. The characteristics of a mature market in North America are not a reason for brands to give up Facebook. It will still bear a significant presence in the short to medium term. In the United States, the prevalence of Facebook is still rather high. I believe that the challenge is effectively distributing, managing and optimizing content for this channel, just as it is with every other online channel. An optimized Facebook presence has the potential to be a boon for the marketing outcomes of a brand.