During Facebook's recent Q3 2013 Earnings Report, Mr. David Ebersma - Facebook’s Chief Financial Officer - made an unexpected and ultimately eye-opening confession. He shared, "We did see a decrease in daily users specifically among younger teens. We wanted to share this with you now because we get a lot of questions about it."
No exact numbers or figures were disclosed. But yes, apparently, Facebook users aged 14 to 21 years old are starting to become less and less active on the world's most popular social networking site. I find this odd because there's a current boom in the sales of smartphones and tablets and various studies - like the one by Pew Research Center - show that young consumers use these devices primarily to stay connected with their friends via the internet.
This interesting phenomenon leads one to ask, "If kids use their gadgets to stay connected with friends, why are they leaving the leading social networking site? And more importantly, how are they staying connected after they've left?"
As yet, no one has done any exploratory or conclusive research to answer the first question but a lot of experts are speculating that the increase in the number of Facebook users aged 30 and above has something to do with it. Perhaps teens are starting to feel more and more constrained when sharing their thoughts and photos on the site because they know that their parents, godparents, aunts, and uncles could be monitoring them and carefully watching their every move on FB. Hence, Facebook is starting to become less fun and more uptight or limiting for them.
So where are they going? How do they stay in touch with friends after leaving FB? Well, along with the exodus of young users away from Facebook, we saw the rise of social messaging mobile applications.
As social media users are clearly growing tired of their conversations being publicly displayed, various private communication services are starting to take over. Pioneering this trend are fun mobile messaging services like KakaoTalk from South Korea and WeChat from China -- both gave birth to a new global trend of messaging platformization. The mobile messaging service, which is used by 97% of the smartphone population in Korea, has not only become the single largest social network of record in its home country, but has leveraged this social network and traffic to build a platform atop its messaging service. The model has inspired other players around the globe to follow suit, and in markets like Japan and China, the industry is witnessing phenomenal growth of services of similar models including WhatsApp and Viber.
Mr. Don Anderson - SVP and Director of Regional Strategic Digital Integration for Asia Pacific of FleishmanHillard, a leading global communications agency of the Omnicom Group - explained, "Facebook still has its place in social media as a one-to-many platform, but Facebook’s future dominance will continue to be questioned as more disruptive, mobile-enabled one-to-one communications technologies enter the picture, and the experiences provided by those technologies are diversified."
He added, "The market's adoption of messaging apps like KakaoTalk, Whatsapp, Viber is being driven by the combination of ease of use, convenience, privacy, and unique messaging options such as gaming and emoticons/stickers - overall heightening one’s mobile communications experience. It’s also hard to overlook the cost effectiveness that these apps provide for maintaining real-time conversations over traditional, SMS-based interactions. [...] Messaging apps will reach certain ubiquity, and put further pressure on existing 'old school' social networks"
We've all seen the quick rise, unquestionable dominance, and epic fall of big social networking sites, namely, Friendster and Myspace. It showed us that if there's anything constant in the internet and mobile landscape - as in the world - it is change. By launching its revamped Messenger application, Facebook is trying to show users that it can also play the game of KakaoTalk and WeChat; But are users actually buying it? How long can FB stay relevant in the lives of its millions of users around the world? It remains to be seen whether Facebook will suffer the same horrible fate of Friendster and Myspace. I guess we'll all just have to wait and see.
In the meantime, however, I've decided to join both KakaoTalk and WeChat! Add me up, TP Friends! My handle is TechPinas on both social messaging applications. Let's talk!