Those in the media are of two camps when it comes to younger users and Facebook. The first camp tells us this demographic no longer care about Facebook. The second camp tells us that there’s no real evidence to support this, and that teen use of Facebook is steady.
There are some compelling theories from the first camp. Chrys Bader wrote an excellent post about the “End of the Facebook Era,” which details several reasons young users migrate to other platforms. Bader points out that, “What we’re seeing is a fundamental shift in the perception of what Facebook means to society. It has become institutionalized. It’s become the town square of the world. But that’s not where the kids hang out.”
Where are younger users?
You’re going to need to rethink your social strategy when it comes to teens or young adults. The truth is, they’re not going to be as engaged on Facebook as their parents or older peers. If you want to reach them, you’ll need to go where they are.
Instagram is a photo-sharing service based solely on smart phones and comprised of photos and 15-second videos that users post. Followers can like and comment on these images. More brands are getting into the service, especially after the creation of Instagram ads. Facebook purchased the service in April 2012.
According to an October 2013 study by Pew Research Center, 18% of cell phone owners use Instagram. According to a MarketingCharts.com article in October 2013, Instagram is now the second most important social network to American teens.
With the Instagram Direct upgrade in December 2012, the service moved into the photo-messaging arena traditionally dominated by SnapChat, but with Facebook-backed safety guidelines and standards.
SnapChat is a photo-messaging service based solely on smart phones. It allows users to send each other pictures with text or drawings for up to 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, the picture vanishes and the receiver is unable to see it. The receiver cannot “like” or “comment” on the image itself, but can reply with their own picture.
The strong visual element, along with the assumption of privacy with expiring photos, has captured young users’ interest. Twenty-six percent of cell phone owners in the 18 to 29 age group use SnapChat, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2013 “Photo and Video Sharing Grow Online” report.
Many brands have used SnapChat as a way to reach influencers directly, but the service is limited to those whose phone numbers or usernames you have. If your brand has SnapChat, you’ll need to publicize your username widely. Any hesitation about this would be perfectly understandable, considering the service just suffered a leak of 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers.
Tumblr is a microblogging platform that allows users to post and tag pictures and videos to a short-form blog. Users can follow others’ blogs, liking their content or reblogging it with commentary on their own Tumblrs. You can also enable a mailbox, which lets users message you directly with questions.
According to a 2013 infographic from BI Intelligence nearly 75% of Tumblr users are younger than 24. The infographic also states more than a quarter of all users follow a page created by a brand, and more than a third shared photos from a brand. Tumblr content is often highly visual and rebloggable.
Because it’s a blogging platform, it offers many options for brands, which can use it to disseminate infographics, videos, music, and pictures. The messaging feature also allows your followers to come to you with questions or complaints. As a result, blogging answers to these questions is an easy way to update your followers.
According to Fast Company, the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64- year old age range. Twitter still belongs to millennials, however. According to a Pew Research Center report on Twitter use in 2012, 25% of Twitter users are 18 to 29 years old. Business Insider reported that this age group jumped to 27% of the platform’s demographic in 2013.
Twitter is an excellent place for brands to help customers with questions or grievances, spread the word about events, and keep people up to date about news and promotions. Frankly, I see no excuse for a credit union not to be on Twitter.
The Bottom Line
Social media is now the No. 1 activity on the Web. It carries more weight than ever, especially with teens and young adults. So you need to think seriously about your presence or lack thereof on sites with higher demographics of younger users.
Fatemeh Fakhraie is the social media and marketing specialist at brass Media Inc. She can be reached at 541-753-8546 or email@example.com.