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[9 comments]

Forrester: No such thing as Facebook fatigue among teens

June 26, 2014

Back in March of 2013, I wrote a column on this site discussing the exodus of teens away from Facebook. The idea for the piece came from a discussion with the resident teenagers in our home, one of whom said, "You do know that nobody goes on Facebook anymore, right?"

Over the past year there has been research as well as an acknowledgment by former CFO David Ebersman that teens are not as engaged with Facebook as they have been in years past.

According to new research by the good folks at Forrester, everyone that has been operating under the impression that Facebook is no longer cool with kids has been, in a word, wrong.

The research had found that more than 75 percent of teens use Facebook and use it more often than in the past. The number of "online youth" who use Facebook, according to Nate Elliott, co-author of the Forrester report, is "twice as many as use Pinterest or Tumblr or Snapchat, and more than use Instagram and WhatApp combined."

The only site that outperforms with teens is YouTube, according to the report. As InformationWeek reported, the authors of the Forrester Report do not see this as significant since YouTube is not used by kids "to establish friend connections."

Discussion Questions:

Are social media sites the right place for retailers to try and engage teen consumers? Where do you see the greatest potential for retailers to use social sites to engage with teens - as an advertising medium, promotions, public relations, customer service, et al?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

How important is social media for retailers looking to deepen their engagement with teenage consumers?

Comments:

The problem with all this measuring the teens reports and endless surveys is that whatever you have today will be old by tomorrow. Texting is the core norm of a teen's survival (and many other age groups). It is not measured on these reports. It has no special application. Basic texting is the core communications medium. Moving up from that, out to the Cadillac level you have Facebook and YouTube. These are large advertising platforms that also allow people to share information, pictures, etc.

So engage away on these large platforms—but to get to the core of the teens and others, go deeper and into the texting-related solutions. Become an accepted piece of this, and not a big advertisement platform player, and get into their wallets.

I estimate that by March of 2015 Facebook will be un-hip again. A number of my Millennial kids have totally wiped themselves off Facebook. Their comments: "old stuff." They are into YouTube and texting and Twitter—oh, and they also use regular old email.

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Tom Redd, Vice President, Strategic Communications, SAP Global Retail Business Unit

Careful or you might get whipsawed by conflicting research. Retailers should engage consumers wherever those consumers congregate, the only questions are which tactics to employ and how to measure ROI. For most retailers, using social media should involve creating dialogues with customers and promotions. The beauty of social media is that is doesn't come with a steep cost and many tactical variations can be tested simultaneously.

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Max Goldberg, President, Max Goldberg & Associates

Retailers need to engage consumers wherever and whenever they spend their time. Facebook will be the giant among social media for the foreseeable future, with Twitter and Instagram teen usage on the rise. With ubiquity of mobile, they also spend significant time on gaming, and two years ago Google introduced Google+ Lite for teens.

Whether Facebook's adoption by teens is decreasing or not is relevant in the ad spending mix or where retailers focus their time and energy. It's more than just percent of teens spending time X on social channel Y. You need to look at the period-to-period change to understand the acceleration or slowdown trajectory in the growth across social channels by the target consumer segment.

So while Facebook has a very large number of teens using the service, unacceptable growth rates have caused that company's management to take note. Cheerleading acrobatics aside, Facebook must solve their cool gap sooner rather than later.

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Mohamed Amer, Vice President, Global Consumer Industries, SAP

I love you guys at RetailWire, but I wasn't buying your line in the first place. Where else could teens go for dialogue, except maybe Myspace? Google+ is not cutting it, and nobody else can replace Facebook—for any age group.

Consumers are expecting dialogue with stores and brands as much as they are from their real friends. If they don't get it they won't be your friend as long as someone else will.

Sid Raisch, President, Advantage Development System

Yes. Social media is clearly an important promotional vehicle for teens. Retailers need to be aware of this and use them to their advantage, especially for PR and customer service, since the number of opportunities to engage (while positively impacting and promoting) their audience is tremendous.

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Kai Clarke, CEO, American Retail Consultants

It really is simple. It doesn't matter if it is Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Go where your customers are, where they "hang out," interact and participate online. The retailer must get in sync with their customers. If Facebook really was no longer a relevant place for teens, why would a retailer try to engage in that medium? Don't fight the trend. Go with the trend.

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Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations, LLC

Until they go away from our daily lives, all social channels need to be at the very least investigated by merchants and CPG brands. Many brands have done a great engaging, especially when you look at the largest Facebook presence of any entity...it's a great CPG brand.

First, try to engage your audience rather than trying to promote your products. I think there are some great ways brands are capturing teens' attention across the globe. There are some innovative tools to help your organization do just that, by the way. This need not be blazing a new trail. There are plenty of best practices from which to learn.

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Ralph Jacobson, Global Consumer Products Industry Marketing Executive, IBM

Yes, social media is important for retailers wanting to reach the teen demo. Each social channel has unique components that can have very specific marketing applications. Retailers need to utilize social channels where and when they have the most impact with the target demographic. We've been seeing the younger demographic using Facebook as the hub for social interactions but spending more active time participating with Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, and Twitter and more passive time watching Youtube. My advice for retailers wanting to take advantage of the best social channel for them is to watch the trends, stay actively involved, evaluate and measure, and be ready for change.

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Larry Negrich, Vice President, Marketing, nGage Labs

Customers need to be engaged wherever they are. I guess the deeper question is how to engage, how much to engage and how do you measure the ROI? Answers to how much and measuring ROI is not straightforward. Social media can be beautifully used for understanding the customer, "listening" to their feedback and building a relationship.

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AmolRatna Srivastav, Asst. General Manager, Analytics and Insights, Tata Consultancy Services

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