Young people are leaving Facebook, and there are repercussions for politics and governing

First, let me be clear what this entry is not about: sounding the death knell of Facebook.  I am not screaming that Facebook is going broke and that advertisers should take the tens of billions that they invest in Facebook and put them into Pintrest instead.

I do want to make a point though: Facebook does have a youth problem, and it may have ramifications, in the long-term, for the platform.  From the standpoint of governing and politics, it may require an expansion of attention and effort.

First, the info.  In an October 2013 earnings call, Facebook’s Chief Financial Officer, David Ebersman, said that the network was losing teenage users.  Indeed, check out these numbers:

Facebook Losing Teens

That’s a 25% drop in 13-17 year olds in three years.  That could be seriously problematic for the network.  Now, it’s not as if teenagers are putting down their phones and embracing the warm sunshine.  They are still on Social Networks but different ones like Vine, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram.

So, what does this mean for government?  First, if you want to communicate with teens, Facebook does still win in raw numbers, but you need to pay attention to alternative sources as well.

In the long term, this means that you will need to keep an eye on trends.  As these teens become adults and their purchasing power increases, and they become voters and more engaged citizens, it will be interesting to see whether or not their social media tastes shift towards Facebook or continue to turn away from it.  Remember MySpace?  That once ran the world in terms of Social Networking.  Facebook is too smart not to adapt, but this will be interesting to watch.

Right now, Facebook is certainly the best Social Media platform for communicating with your constituents.  If these trends keep up, that may change.

What do you think?  Am I right or wrong?  Let me know in the comments!


One Comment

  1. As you mention and the data clearly shows, teens are using Facebook and a significantly smaller rate than in the past in favor of other platforms. That said, I think these big numbers cloud the very small numbers at the district level.

    Using dummy data, let’s say there are 5,000 state House districts in the country of equal size. That means instead of having about 9,000 13 to 17 year olds on Facebook in 2011, there are 8,400 in the district.

    From a practical standpoint, does it make sense for a legislator to use another platform that only a fraction of those 600 13 to 17 year olds in hopes of being able to connect with another fraction of the teenagers on that platform?! I doubt it.

    Of course, if you’re the president, vice president, or a statewide office holder in a large state where the actual number of constituents becomes much bigger, it’s a different story.


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