June 17, 2014Published by: Drew Benvie

How engaging teens on social media needs an understanding of the real reason Facebook is uncool


If you are working on brand communications in a role where understanding teen media consumption is important, then this article on Fast Company is a must-read.


Many think that the reason Facebook is seen as uncool and 'dead' amongst teens is that parents like using Facebook, so teens don't. The truth, it seems, is in the data, and in a fair amount of research done with teens directly. And this all says that parents are only part of the story.


The article suggests that chat apps, photo-sharing social networks, and single-purpose apps in general are better for social networking and media consumption for teens. As a result, Facebook isn't the best place for a young and connected individual to spend their time. And that this is the reason Facebook is 'not cool'.


The article references major research by UCL's Danny Miller, who I had the pleasure of meeting recently to discuss his work in this space, and Mikolaj Jan Piskorski from Harvard Business School. Both have found through major research projects that Facebook itself agrees it has lost its cool, and that single purpose apps are its future.

And hey presto: Facebook has, as I write this, has launched its Snapchat competitor app, Slingshot.

Here is a link to the Fast Company feature in full, and I'll finish where it cuts to the chase. Happy bed time reading:

The person who is more aware of this problem than Piskorski or Brandi or anyone, really, is Zuckerberg, who admits that the future of Facebook the company is probably not Facebook the social network. No, what is the future (or seems to be, because if there's anything certain about the future it is that it's impossible to predict, particularly if it involves teens) are single-purpose mobile apps. Think back on what the Hillcrest high schoolers were using straight-off, after a day away from their phones: chat apps, photo apps, all apps that did one thing and did it well. Maybe that's why all those girls laughed about Snapchat, which is one thing, but a bunch of other weird things too. It could also be because, well, just imagine your teenage years, and what Snapchat does, and tell me you're not giggling, too.


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