Do you remember when Facebook was cool?
Those halcyon days back in the mid-to-late 2000s when, if it didn’t appear on Facebook, it didn’t happen. Albums upon albums of photos of you being an absolute legend at festivals, house parties or just generally larking around, tagging all your mates in the photos and them adding their own ‘hilarious’ comments about what an ‘epic night’ it was.
Everyone was on it, everyone wanted as many friends as possible and it was actually quite fun.
The writing was on the wall once people started to realise that actually not posting anything was more of a statement (“Too busy having fun and achieving to be on Facebook guys”) but, nonetheless, we all continued to use Facebook for general voyeurism and therapeutic moaning about everyone posting too many baby photos.
And the last few years have seen adverts increase in frequency, fake news proliferate and people just start to get fed up of the platform; so much so that Mark Zuckerberg announced sweeping changes to what will now appear in your news feed, with ‘meaningful interactions’ the buzzword and a general prioritising of content from family and friends over publishers.
But, with people already fed up, are the changes too late?
Well, it looks like it could be, especially among young people.
A new forecast suggests that 700,000 UK teenagers and young adults will leave the site in 2018, with many defecting to the likes of rival Snapchat.
Meanwhile, the only demographics which will see an increase in users are those aged 45+, with the biggest growing group being silver surfers aged 65 or above.
So, the bad news: if you still use Facebook, you’re officially old.
The largest group of users remains those aged 25 to 34, with that cohort comprising 7.2 million people in the UK, but the next two largest groups of users are those aged 35 to 44 and 44 to 54.
Bill Fisher, UK senior analyst at eMarketer, told theGuardian: “Facebook has a teen problem. This latest forecast indicates that it is more than just a theory. Until now it has been able to rely on platform shifters being hoovered up by Instagram [which Facebook bought for $1 billion in 2012].
“However, leading the charge for younger audiences is Snapchat. There are now some early signs that younger social network users are being swayed by Snapchat.”
In the last three years, Snapchat has more than doubled its take-up rate among UK users of social networking sites, to 43%
Richard Broughton, analyst at Ampere told theGuardian: “There are a couple of factors at play here. One is that older people tend to be late to the internet party, but adoption tends to find its way through the demographics eventually. And with Facebook’s video and photo experience it is a platform they want to be on to keep up with the social lives of their kids and grandchildren.”
In the last quarter of 2017, Facebook made a staggering $4.3 billion profit, a 61% year-on-year rise, so it’s unlikely to be too alarmed just yet.
But perhaps it should be alarmed - MySpace looked unbeatable until Facebook came along, and it quickly fell off a cliff.
Up until now, Facebook has dealt with challengers by simply buying them (or copying their features), but Snapchat has stubbornly resisted their approaches, turning down a $3 billion offer back in 2013.
Perhaps they should up their offer or risk becoming something a grandparent-only zone.
(Image: Tim Bennett)