There seems to be a lot of disagreement about what's happening on Facebook. Part of that comes about because it's hard to get systematic data about changes, whether it's reduced youth involvement or a drop in fan page traffic. However a new report from iStrategy, based on a comparison of Facebook data for advertisers in 2011 and 2014, shows a clear drop in high school and college-age teens with a bigger drop in enrolled students. There's also an increase in older folks. There's no question that things are changing so maybe the better question is: Do those changes matter to you and your marketing efforts?
Though misinterpreting and therefore misrepresenting some info, a post at Time.com claims "11 million young people have fled Facebook since 2011."
Facebook's Data on Reduced Youth Involvement
Actually what's happened is that comparing Facebook's own data for the "Potential Reach" of its ad platform as reported in January 2011 and January 2014 reveals:
13 to 17 year old users: -25.3% drop from 13,114,780 to 9,800,000
18 to 24 year old users: -7.5% drop from 45,406,460 to 42,000,000
Overall drop in 13 to 24 year old users: -6,721,240
Enrolled in high school: -58.9% drop from 7,292,080 to 3,000,000
Enrolled in college: -59.1% drop from 11,748,840 to 4,800,000
Overall drop in enrolled students: -11,240,920
So whether or not they're fleeing Facebook, the number of enrolled high school and college students is not only dropping but becoming a smaller percentage of site members. That drop is Time's 11 million but the actual young people drop, or the 13 to 24 year olds, was a bit under 7 million.
More on the Report and Its Relevance to You
The report on Facebook's Social Ad Data comes from iStrategyLabs and is a simple comparative post on their blog.
There are plenty of caveats one could raise. In particular the shift in "Interests" could use some explanation with a growth in users expressing interest in sex rising by 230.4% while those expressing interest in drugs dropping -71.8%.
That should be a pretty clear warning that there may be other problems with this data.
Nevertheless, it's pretty clear that there are less young people on Facebook than in 2011, according to Facebook's own report, but there's substantial growth in older age ranges.
Is that important to you? There's a big difference between who's on Facebook and who you can reach on Facebook. And there still are a heck of a lot of teenagers on there.
So, yes, demographics are shifting and, however you spin it, there are less younger people and more older people.
But you should be basing your decision about using Facebook and how you use Facebook on what works for you and what results in a decent ROI on your time rather than on overall user numbers.
Just like you would have on MySpace back in the day.
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is relaunching All World Dance. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.