Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Fickle About Facebook

My husband is one of the last hold-outs when it comes to social media. Never mind that he's in marketing. Never mind that he's a particularly social guy in his analog life. Never mind that he is — and has always been — young-at-heart. Unlike all his friends and family (not to mention 1.4 billion others), he has yet to join Facebook.

He says he never will.

Of course, this makes it a little inconvenient when I see something on Facebook that I think he'd like. Instead of simply hitting "share," I have to click through to pull the content up on a web browser, then cut and paste the URL into an email and send it that way. In other words, what would take a half a second within Facebook ends up taking me three or four seconds.

The horror!

Contrast his attitude with our now-teenaged daughter's. A few years ago, she couldn't wait to join Facebook. I finally said "Yes" when she turned thirteen. We agreed to some guidelines and ground rules, and except for one incident when a camp friend posted some rather off-color birthday wishes (which I immediately made my daughter delete but not before her grandmother saw them, omg), we've never had a problem.

Meanwhile, I have really enjoyed using Facebook myself. Over the last few years, I've reconnected with friends from kindergarten, from summers at my grandmother's house, high school, old jobs, college and the theatre company where I rehearsed every afternoon (plus weekend performances) all through my teens. As a writer (of this blog and also for Women's Voices for Change), Facebook gives me an easy way to share my work and expand my audience. As a marketer, I can share news from my agency and samples of recent work. And, as a mother, I've proudly shared thousands of photos and horse show scores.

Facebook has also been a subtle way to stay on top of my daughter's social life. A number of her BFFs have friended me. ("Really," I explain to her as she rolls her eyes, "They friended me first.") Kids typically post pictures from parties, concerts and other outings. When she was in Spain last summer, I kept track of her comings and goings through her posts and those of her host family.

Recently, I posted a quick video of a talking goat (don't ask) on her wall. I knew she would love it. But, when I asked her about it after school, she hadn't seen it.

You see, Facebook, the very center of her life at thirteen, is now passé. Or, more accurately, Facebook is now where old people hang out. Old people like me, apparently.

Sure, my daughter still goes to Facebook for certain things. The girls in her class have created a page to share prom dresses. Her stable posts lesson and competition schedules (and, this year, snow removal updates). She browses her news feed, casually. But, it isn't the center of attention like it once was. And my daughter isn't alone.

A recent survey of teens found that Facebook has been replaced. Don't get me wrong, it's still in the top three social sites, but its popularity is definitely waning, while other sites are picking up speed. Take a look at some results:

More than 90% of teens use some social media

76% use Instagram

59% use Twitter

45% still use Facebook, BUT that number has dropped 27% in the past 6 months

These statistics are interesting, but don't necessarily spell doom and gloom for Facebook. Although their active members are decreasing, those that are still loyal spend more time and are more fully engaged than users on other sites.  

So don't sell your shares of Facebook quite yet.

After all, they own Instagram.

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