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Facebook is back in the news again this week, having announced that it’s relaxing the rules on competitions, allowing brands to run the ‘like to win’ model. But that’s not the only thing to have hit the headlines, ever since 13-year-old Ruby Karp posted a blog on Mashable outlining why ‘none of my friends use Facebook’ the idea that teens are giving up on the social network has returned to the spotlight once more. So are teenagers still using Facebook? And if not, what could this mean for marketers?

The Drum has concluded that in reality “teenagers may have Facebook accounts, but more and more they are logging on and interacting in places away from their parents or chaperone’s oversight” and we don’t disagree. When it first launched, Facebook was deemed a social network for students and young professionals, there were few users over the 35 age bracket. However, fast-forward to 2013 and the demographic mark-up is very different, there’s a huge shift in favour of the 40+ age group. Think about it, how many people have you heard say that their parents now have a Facebook profile?

So, is this the reason why teens are, if not moving away from the platform completely updating their profiles less frequently? Perhaps. Or at least it’s a contributing factor.

Back in May Pew Research Centre noted that teens were expressing ‘waning enthusiasm’ for the social network. The reason for this is too much ‘drama’, apparently the stress of having to manage their online reputation is just too much effort; similarly teens mentioned that they were getting fed up of reading their friend’s inane updates – we’re with you on that one.

Now that we’re beginning to understand what’s prompting young users of the network to become observers rather than participants, we now need to understand what this all means for marketers.

Generally speaking it’s down to personal preference whether a user, regardless of age shares content with their network, fortunately as yet there’s little evidence to suggest that teen interaction with brands is waning. However to ensure your brand remains part of the conversations with teens, standard Facebook etiquette applies:

  • Ensure your posts are relevant and engaging, if youngsters are becoming more conscious of their online reputation they’re likely only to share things if it supports their own personal brand or gives them something in return.
  • Don’t overtly self-promote, a lot of younger audiences are extremely switched on to advertising and are often discouraged when told why they should share something or are being sold to.

We now know that while the headlines of ‘teens leaving Facebook in drones’ aren’t to be believed, the way in which teens are using social media is changing. With the introduction of more networks, the younger generation are beginning to experiment with new social services.


#Instagram and Snapchat seem to be the front-runners currently, each boasting a large proportion of users as young as 12, and it’s easy to see why. Youngsters are and always will be a fickle bunch, which works perfectly for Snapchat. Not only is it a great replacement for one-to-one communication with friends but it’s also the ‘latest thing’, combine that with the fact that all evidence of messages disappear within 10 seconds and it’s definitely an attractive prospect. Research suggests that sharing photos and video is the most popular online activity for youngsters, which makes Instagram the perfect platform. Although owned by Facebook, Instagram boasts a thriving community of its own and is seeing more and more new users join the network to take advantage of its media capabilities.

With this shift in network preference, marketers need to become more aware of network proposition and demographic use, if your business is marketing to teen consumers here’s how to get them engaged:

  • Choose your network: It’s clear that users are favouring certain networks, make sure that you research what your audience are doing and where they’re doing it. There’s plenty of conversation monitoring tools out there to help. If you’ve got a CRM, email marketing or social media program already set up then take advantage to contact and survey your active base.
  • Create the right content: As Pew Research Centre discovered, users are often put off by friends boring status updates, don’t let yours fall into the same category. Make sure your posts are conversational and are tailored to your audience.
  • Distribute your content effectively: We know that certain things will always work online, competitions will attract users and images will always achieve the highest response rates, use this to your advantage. Research to see what works on your page and with your audience then make sure you keep it up.
  • Experiment: Don’t be afraid to try new things, teens are constantly on the look-out for the next big thing. Why couldn’t that be you? Look for online trends and new innovations to see if any could fit with your marketing activity, don’t just do something for the sake of doing it but if it fits with your ethos then go for it – we all need to be brave sometimes.

What are your thoughts, are teens moving away from Facebook? Do you agree with our tips? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us

AUTHOR: Harriet Rhodes
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