Marketers Move to Facebook as Teens Move Away

Discussion
Jul 15, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

In marketing as in life, it is all about timing. That’s
why, at the very least, retailers and brands should be concerned that they
are moving to Facebook at a time when large numbers of teenagers are abandoning
it.

According to a study from OTX and Roiworld, roughly 20 percent of teenage
Facebook users decreased or stopped using the service altogether as of April
of this year.

Facebook
is not alone in losing the interest of fickle teenagers. MySpace (22 percent
abandonment rate), YouTube (15 percent) and Twitter (15 percent) are having
issues hanging on to their young members.

According to eMarketer, Facebook is facing a
boredom issue among kids. Social games
are seen as a key method of keeping teenagers entertained. Eighty-one percent
of young members use social games and spend an average of seven hours a week
playing them.

Separately, a survey of 476 marketers conducted last month by SeeWhy
found 67 percent plan to use Facebook to drive traffic to an e-commerce website,
while 26 percent are looking to sell directly from the social media site. Forty-four
percent plan to develop microsites on Facebook to draw attention to specific
promotions and product rollouts.

Discussion Questions: Should the number of teens moving away from Facebook
and other social media sites be a cause of concern for marketers in both the
near and longer-term? What are the most effective means for keeping consumers
of all ages engaged with a marketer’s Facebook page?

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21 Comments on "Marketers Move to Facebook as Teens Move Away"


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Bob Phibbs
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

The trouble with Facebook is you only get out of it what you put into it. With many, it is still a way to see what others are doing, not requiring them to add into the dialogue. That leads to boredom. The teens moving away as a marketer doesn’t bother me, it’s the adults who try it and leave. That said, we aren’t going back to Xeroxed fliers on cars any time soon.

Phil Rubin
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

SOCIAL MEDIA IS HOT AND YOU NEED IT IN THE MARKETING MIX! IT’S THE SILVER BULLET: INEXPENSIVE AND SCALABLE! IT’S THE MARKETING ANSWER TO EVERYTHING!!!

Teens moving away from Facebook and other social media sites is perhaps simply a much needed reality check that there is more to marketing than social media. Every day there’s a new marketer that’s focusing everything on social media (Ben and Jerry’s just quit email marketing to solely focus on social) and unfortunately growing your business is not that simple. There’s no one way to reach all of your customers or prospects and consumers’ tastes and preferences, just like their behavior, is dynamic.

The idea that teenagers are getting bored with Facebook and other platforms is completely believable. Further, it’s something that will be onset in older audiences as well. Like most customer marketing relationship dynamics, it’s all about relevance and the content, as much as it is about the venue.

David Biernbaum
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

The notion that only teens and young adults are on Facebook is an antiquated and erroneous way of thinking in this year of 2010. Many teens are actually moving away from certain social media sites, however, marketers are smart to understand that the better dollars now have moved in to the social media; meaning adults over 25 and well into the mid life and even senior years. Actually this is a dream come true for CPG marketers. Don’t overlook the opportunities and be sure to take full advantage!

Devangshu Dutta
Guest
Devangshu Dutta
10 years 10 months ago
It’s horses for courses. Marketers of teen brands should definitely be concerned about teens exiting or reducing their usage of Facebook. However, there are plenty of others for whom the Facebook audience is apparently becoming more relevant than ever. Facebook reports 400 million users as of February. According to them, 50% of the active users log on on any given day. That’s impressive stickiness. Having said that, I’d like to take a different look at those stats. Demographics and physically addressable market aside, the question is what proportion of your potential customers are receptive to the brand in that environment. Facebook is not a medium amenable to classic interruption marketing at the moment. Neither is the Facebook user’s primary purpose looking at marketing messages, or brand loyalty. The average Facebook user has enough to keep him/her busy or distracted, without getting on to a brand’s page. That video of a mother with the laughing quadruplets is far more likely to get viewed and shared than any marketing message. If your brand isn’t interesting, engaging, and… Read more »
Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

The core issue is that many companies follow what other companies do. As a result, many companies are just beginning to think about social media. As far as I can tell, social media is not dead. However, the most popular sites are changing. Unless a company is continuing to research what media vehicles their consumers are using, they are always going to be playing catch-up and may never be reaching their best consumers effectively.

Dick Seesel
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

Teens may have been “early adapters” of Facebook–just as they were early drivers of the text messaging phenomenon–but there is no doubt that social networking and mobile apps are here to stay. It’s just a question of which site or app appeals to which demographic, and targeting your marketing efforts accordingly. Chances are good that a LinkedIn user has a different profile than a Facebook user, although there is plenty of overlap. So it’s unwise to dismiss social networking and mobile apps as valid marketing tools simply because individual sites are gaining or losing share of users; there is no question that the overall explosion in “new media” justifies its inclusion in a smart communications plan.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
10 years 10 months ago
As I’m prone to doing, I have to give a two-part response: Part 1: Yes, marketers should be concerned that teens are leaving Facebook. The math looks like this; the median age of baby Boomers is 55. That’s beyond the age at which the Bureau of Labor Statistics records a consistent drop in consumer consumption. Gen X – 1965-1984 is about 15% smaller than the Boomer cohort. And Gen Y will be 100 million strong this year. So, miss Gen Y and you’re toast. Part 2: Marketers need to get used to migrating their message. The very user-generated nature of social media that makes it so unique also makes it very prone to change. New networks will spring up constantly – simply because they can. Marketers and media firms need to become adept at quickly identifying networks that support the brand strategy and can support meaningful consumer connections. Consumer groups will indeed migrate to new social formats and networks and smart brands will have the courage to follow them.
Ryan Mathews
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

Social media is in the process of rapid and continuous evolution. The only mistake marketers can make is to think they have it figured out and that it will stay that way.

Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
10 years 10 months ago

It really depends on the brand in the short term. Abercrombie & Fitch should be worried in the short term, Sears should not. Longer term, all retailers should realize that social media is in its infancy and extremely fluid. MySpace was the hottest social media site a few short years ago and now is an afterthought. Facebook may well run its course in a few years, and social media will most likely evolve in ways nobody can predict.

Brian Kelly
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

The herd moves. Especially the teen market. This year’s silver bullet is not next year’s. Facebook will enjoy relevance for a while, but online brand life cycles are highly volatile.

Reading articles on Macy’s and JCP Back to School efforts prove that the marketer’s mix is constantly evolving as new channels, content and technologies conspire to become the next shiny new thing.

Our job is to remain in touch with the target, listen, and respond accordingly. For now, Facebook is probably a good place, among others, to have a listening post.

W. Frank Dell II
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

In technology, teens are early adopters. They also have a high ratio of follow-the-leader. But with all children, they have a very short attention span. Facebook was not the first and will not be last to have a great growth rate and then level off with a different customer mix. We see this with most new products. If you are marketing to teens, you are late. The open question is how will Facebook fare with the remaining audience?

Robert Straub
Guest
Robert Straub
10 years 10 months ago

Of course teens are leaving Facebook, their parents and grandparents are on it–that ain’t cool.

Carlos Arambula
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

There has to be a different perspective on the migration by teens from Facebook or Twitter. Teens are simply following the same behavior they did with MySpace, so it can be considered a pattern. Teens take to social sites as early adopters and eventually abandon it. As a marketer, if I target teens I would consider the pattern and constantly look for the emerging social movements of teen.

However Facebook is still a very good option to target other demographics, and it appears that (and I hope) they have recognized the mistakes made by MySpace and have taken the steps to avoid a spiral into oblivion.

Timing has also favored Facebook. Unlike MySpace, marketers recognized and began adopting social sites as a marketing tool at the apex of Facebook’s popularity. I believe the existence of marketers in Facebook will force innovation and relevancy in the future.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
10 years 10 months ago

Remember when…

Prodigy was the first, until

Compuserve grew rapidly, until

AOL exploded, until

Yahoo dominated, until

Google became all-powerful, until

Facebook hit 500 million users?

Today Facebook remains the Social Media champ, so marketers should continue to look at it as part of their integrated marketing plan. But somewhere, there is a 20 year old sitting in his/her dorm room, spending his/her parent’s tuition money while not going to class, dreaming up the Facebook killer.

Marketers need to be ready and nimble to switch when this happens. Flexibility and nimbleness is the key to success in today’s marketing environment.

Mike Romano
Guest
Mike Romano
10 years 10 months ago

Retailers are missing the point and the opportunity. STOP marketing to teens on Facebook. They are irritated and turned-off by any marketing to them via Facebook. That is one of the main reasons they are abandoning Facebook. It’s become too commercialized, and that’s an environment that repels teens from both the site and your brand.

The fastest growing users of Facebook are 1) 55 and over, and 2) adults 35-55.

First of all, please have a strategy. Hiring a 22 year old — who happens to have a cool Facebook page — to manage your Facebook page and social media is not a strategy. It’s a brand travesty.

Those targets 35+ are open to receiving relevant ads on Facebook — find a cadence and don’t abuse the privilege. Find an expert, develop a strategy, create a plan, identify key metrics to track & measure, and execute with precision. Social media is not a kid’s game; it’s an opportunity to create interactive engagement with your best customers.

Matt Hahn
Guest
Matt Hahn
10 years 10 months ago

As others have pointed out, social media is not the end game in marketing. It should be a singular component and the nature of social media dictates that the use of it by companies must be as fluid as the use of the consumer. The fact that Facebook users, particularly teens, are tired of being bombarded with advertising is not a surprise. The most effective marketing campaigns are ones that engage the consumer and fan pages with simple updates promoting the products don’t fill that bucket.

One important data point to note is how many adults are joining, and staying, with Facebook. If that group is growing, then you have the base of disposable income marketers are seeking and the exodus of teens with relatively limited buying power becomes less of an issue.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
10 years 10 months ago

I think this merely points to the increasing speed of change in electronic media. What’s new and fresh today can very easily be stale and passe tomorrow. This is especially true of younger demographics, who have led the way in adoption of Facebook in particular. That demo, however, is always going to be looking for what’s next.

This puts quite a burden on marketers, who traditionally haven’t had to be so nimble. But to the degree that marketing messages are becoming more targeted and focused by channel, marketing strategies are going to have to be more nimble.

Mark Johnson
Guest
Mark Johnson
10 years 10 months ago

I think I recently addressed this in a State of the Industry on Loyalty 360. The dynamic of social media (all mediums) is quick and unforgiving, yet the effective use of them is diminishing.

“Paradox of Choice.”

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

OK, so teens are leaving Facebook. I can’t see this as a permanent departure. They will be back because of the strength and numbers using the social media venue. Yes, they are using something new today and something newer tomorrow. Facebook will develop technology to bring them home.

Marketers need to stay on Facebook and other sites because the people buying their products will be there. Word of mouth, in the new social media world, is still the marketers best bang for the buck.

Dan Raftery
Guest
10 years 10 months ago
Since most marketing professionals in the CPG world have done precious little effective marketing in the brave new world of social media, the question should really be, when will this industry’s marketing pros wake up? Most of these folks — at the senior levels — went to school before Al Gore invented the Internet, let alone Facebook. Plus, the recession has decimated hiring budgets for at least two years. That means very little “with-its” are on staff, and those who have been lucky enough to land jobs have probably quickly learned the art of survival in corporate America. Think about this — Facebook has only been available to people who are not college students for about 5 years. If teens are leaving Facebook already (and I am not convinced that is the case by the way), where are they going? And why care? We all know that their attention span is about this long. They’ll pay attention to whatever you make interesting to them — for a while. Oh, and there’s always the future to… Read more »
Mel Kleiman
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

After reading all of the posts, it is interesting that the one common line is about how short the attention span of Gen Y is.

The real learning should be how short the attention span has become in all generation groups. Teens may lead in setting trends but seniors are following.

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