Do You Know Where Your Teenager Is (online)?

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By Sue Brady

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source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So much has been written about the ‘demise’ of Facebook and how it’s losing traction with the younger set. Facebook’s audience is changing but that doesn’t mean it’s about to crash and burn. I often hear: The kids just aren’t using Facebook anymore. But is it really true? I did some digging and read a number of articles to really understand what’s been happening to the Facebook numbers. I discovered that yes, teens are leaving Facebook, but Facebook is far from dying. Teens are just turning to other tools.

Piper Jaffray released their semi-annual survey in October, 2013 where they saw a shift from the prior survey done in April, in preferred social media among teens. In the April survey, Facebook was preferred over Twitter with 33% siting the first, and 30% the second. The October study showed a large shift with 26% preferring Twitter, followed by Facebook and new to the top of the list, Instagram, each at 23%. You can read the full article here.

In the US, compared to three year’s ago, overall Facebook users have increased by 23%. The 55 and older crowd has been the biggest reason for this increase. In the last three years, that age group has grown from almost 16 million to 28 million users. And in the same period of time, teen users aged 13 – 17 have declined by 25% while young adults aged 18 – 24 have declined 8%. But somehow that doesn’t feel like the full story. Is it really just the younger crowd moving into older age groups, and not being replaced by the new young teens? It sure seems that way. The largest group on Facebook by pure numbers three years ago was the 18-24 crowd followed by the 35-54 year olds. Now, the largest group on Facebook is the 35-54 year olds, followed by 25 – 34 year olds (source: iStrategy Labs). Facebook’s audience is aging because teens, new to social media, are making other choices.

There are implications for advertisers. Advertisers can still reach a potential teen audience of almost 10 million kids, but that’s 3 million less than they used to be able to reach, and that number is not likely to improve in the coming years.

So where are the teens going for their social media fix? At the end of last year, it was announced that Twitter actually overtook Facebook as the most important social media tool among teens. And there are other, newer social media players too in this rapidly changing landscape.

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Twitter. With 243 million monthly users, Twitter is gigantic. According to AllThingsD, 28% of Twitter’s unique desktop viewers are between 13 and 24 years old. When you look at mobile users, 25% of Twitter users vs 19% of Facebook’s are between 18 and 24 years old.  And, Twitter’s global audience aged between 15 and 24  is over 3 percentage points higher than Facebook’s  (32% to 29%).

Snapchat. Snapchat is the mobile app that allows you to send pictures that are viewable for 1-10 seconds and 15-second video clips can also be sent for a one-time viewing.  Snapchat boasts 30 million monthly users in the US and a full 55% of them use it everyday (source: Business Insider). There are 400 million snaps sent per day, worldwide. (source: Craig Smith, Author of Digital Marketing Ramblings). Its growth has been explosive. Snapchat’s primary demographic is the 13-25 age group, though the 40+ crowd is starting to adopt it as well (source: AllThingsD.com). According to Pew Research, 26% of cell phone owners aged 18-29 use Snapchat. Snapchap is only just starting to allow advertising and it’s not yet known how successful that will be.

Instagram.    Owned by Facebook, Instagram is also a photo and video share app, but the photos and videos don’t disappear.  They boast 150 million monthly users (source: Craig Smith, Author of Digital Marketing Ramblings). 43% of cell phone owners aged 18-29 use Instagram. 18% of those aged 30-49 use Instagram (Pew Research). Snapchat only has 5% of that age group. Like Snapchat, Instagram has been slow to get into advertising, but is definitely planning on monetizing the platform with ads.

WhatsApp. WhatsApp, the mobile messaging tool, has been picking up new users at the rate of a million A DAY. They boast 450 million users to Facebook’s 1.2 billion (worldwide). Their growth has been fairly amazing.  And guess what? Facebook recently announced that it’s buying WhatsApp for a deal valued at $19 billion. Not much is known about the demographics of the WhatsApp users, though in general mobile messaging services have high usage among teens and tweens.  The WhatsApp user base is strong in India, Europe and Latin America.

Facebook is alive and well and making acquisitions to make sure it stays relevant with a variety of age groups. But there’s no question the Facebook audience base is shifting. Perhaps the teen-set isn’t happy that mom and dad are following their pages, or perhaps that age group has just gotten tired of the platform and favors faster communication tools. Whatever the reason, Facebook remains a social media giant.

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Top Six 2014 Digital Marketing Predictions

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By Sue Brady

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The New Year is sure to bring more change that will surprise and delight us users. Here’s my stab at six things I think will happen.

  1. The use of mobile customer service tools in call centers will explode. Cloud services in the call center environment has seen rapid adoption over the last couple of years, and that paves the way for the use of innovative customer service solutions. According to Frost and Sullivan, there were a dozen or so mergers/acquisitions in 2013 that pave the way for this development. Adopted tools will include more Siri-like services, and will also include location-specific help (‘I’m on 4th and Main. Where’s your closest service center?’).
  2. Snapchat will live to regret its Facebook $3 billion cash offer turndown. As it turns out, it’s also rumored that the CEO turned down an offer from Google valued at $4 billion. They will entertain offers but won’t get another one quite as sweet. Sure, the CEO is a young kid from a privileged background who may not care too much about wealth, but he turned down what sounded like a great deal, and you can be sure his investors care about wealth (as do his employees!).
  3. Google+ will continue to report high usage numbers, but will under-perform in all aspects of social engagement and lead generation in both B2B and B2C, except with helping SEO rankings on Google in general.
  4. Big data will continue to confound, but prove to be a goldmine for those who know how to use it. In order to handle big data, companies must understand their goals as well as have tools in place to do something with the data they collect. As more and more companies work out creative and impactful ways to use their data, their methodologies will be copied by others and using data will take on even more prominence. According to a CompTIA study of IT executives, 55% think data is critically important now, and 62% think it will be critically important in 2014. In the same study, they found that 8 in 10 execs agree/agree strongly to the statement: “if we could harness all of our data, we would be a much stronger business.”
  5. There will be a large merger between two existing social media platforms. This may be someone like slideshare merging with a video platform to enhance the one that they have or perhaps Pinterest doing the same. Short video is hot and gaining adoption. Look at the rise of Vine. It was founded in June, 2012 and has over 40 million users (now in 19 languages!). Plus there are newer players like Instagram Video (launched in June, 2013 to the 150 million Instagram users) and videos on Snapchat (launched video in February, 2013 to its 26 million users). Or perhaps this merger will in fact be a purchase of Snapchat by a new buyer.
  6. Attribution tools will take a huge leap forward because brands will adopt usage in increasingly great numbers. As more tools are developed that make attribution easier (read about that here) it makes sense that more companies will use them. And, adoption will happen because it’s the best way to value the ROI on multiple marketing touches.

What are your digital marketing predictions for 2014?