Is Facebook in decline with millennials? This chart gives a definitive answer

Posted on by Guy Cookson

Facebook vs the world

Facebook has been around for ten years now, so it’s tempting to start wondering if it’s losing its appeal, especially amongst younger people. There are plenty of new entrants into the social space, and plenty of other well established players (some of the most popular of which – Instagram and Whatsapp – are now owned by Facebook).

People don’t talk about Facebook like they used to, it’s more like a utility now, it’s just there.

But is it losing its appeal? No, not at all. As the chart above illustrates, in the sought after 18-34 age group, no other social network comes even remotely close in terms of time spent on the site and active usage.

If there is a chink in Zuckerberg’s armour, it’s that people are sharing less personal information on the site, and are instead sharing other content. The likely explanation for this is that as people’s connections on the site grow over time they are less likely to want to share personal things they think are not relevant to people they no longer see much.

Analyst Ben Thompson has a great post on this on Stratechery, where he quotes from Bloomberg:

People have been less willing to post updates about their lives as their lists of friends grow…Instead, Facebook’s 1.6 billion users are posting more news and information from other websites. As Facebook ages, users may have more than a decade’s worth of acquaintances added as friends. People may not always feel comfortable checking into a local bar or sharing an anecdote from their lives, knowing these updates may not be relevant to all their connections.

According to one of the people familiar with the situation, Facebook employees working on the problem have a term for this decline in intimacy: “context collapse.” Personal sharing has shifted to smaller audiences on Snapchat, Facebook’s Instagram and other messaging services.

For brands that want to reach specific groups of people at scale there are still only two obvious options – Google (search, not Google+) and Facebook. As Ben Thompson notes:

The lead that Facebook has over everyone, including Google, when it comes to targeting advertisements is huge. The service knows exactly who you are, exactly what you like, exactly where you live, work, and went to school, all because you told them yourself. And yes, some of your “interests”, particularly in those early days, may have been more aspirational than realistic, but from an advertiser’s perspective, all the better: aspiration is exactly what they sell.

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