A Future for Facebook?

At a lunch with friends the other week, the discussion turned to everyone’s most addictive pastime--social media.  And no discussion of social media can go by without some mention of Facebook.  Everyone discussed how old they were when they created an account, and how often they post.  It turns out, in a sample size of about ten people in their twenties, most created a Facebook account in eighth or ninth grade, and most don’t post very often at all.  Most had an Instagram, but don’t post there that often either.

 

But when you compare these results to a slightly younger cohort, things get interesting.  My younger sister is 19, and has a very different relationship with Facebook.  To her, Facebook seems like a vestige of the past.  She uses Facebook to keep tabs on friends she already has and maintains her page by updating her profile and cover photos.  She writes birthday notes on friends’ walls, but that’s about it in the way of Facebook content creation.  Rather, she posts often on Instagram.  This trend is not encouraging for the once unparalleled social media giant.  How is it that my sister who is only a few years younger than me experiences Facebook in such a different way?  How and when did Instagram begin taking over the market?  Is Facebook doomed to MySpace status?

The timeline is like this: MySpace was created in 2003, Facebook was created in 2004 and ultimately completely wiped out MySpace, and Instagram was only created a few years ago, in 2010, but already has 700 million users.  Facebook’s most common age demographic is ages 25 to 34, at 29.7% users, and Instagram’s most common age demographic is teenagers ages 13 to 17, with 23% of girls and 17% of boys on the app.  Right now, kids in this age range, 13-17, are primarily posting on Instagram, and perhaps streaming their photos to Facebook as an afterthought.  I’m always intrigued when I see these photos on Facebook that are streamed from Instagram.  I can’t imagine this is ideal for Facebook--it doesn’t seem like a sustainable way to maintain a website’s content.

It’s hard to say where Facebook will be in a few years.  But judging from MySpace/Facebook, and Facebook and Instagram’s primary age demographics, it seems to me like Instagram is taking the upper hand.  Better start thinking of clever captions.

By: Ilana Weinberger