Is Facebook losing its cool?

by Heather Peebles

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Using a social network on a smart phone or tabletIt seems that everyone and their granny are on Facebook at the moment – (literally) as we’ve just discovered here at Holyrood PR.

Colleagues welcomed me to the company with an inaugural Facebook post, announcing that I’m now part of the Holyrood PR team.

Despite the discomfort of posing for a photo then cringing when it actually went live online, I was actually surprised when it received nearly 60 likes by the end of the day.

Most of the ‘Likers’ were my well-wishing friends. But my family also got in on the act.

First my mum proudly shared the post on her own page. Then it was the turn of my 78 year old Nana, who posted her own comments – you know the typically kind and thoughtful words for the future that grandmother’s specialise in.

Before I go any further I want to say that I truly appreciate the support I received and would very much like to remain in the family will.

However, last week’s social media exercise demonstrated very clearly that Facebook is now attracting a much older user. Yep, it’s now the place where our parents and even our grandparent feel perfectly happy and comfortable to hang out.

At the same time the younger generation’s engagement with the site is diminishing, which begs the question: where are all the cool kids at?

As the youngest member of the team, I was challenged to delve a little deeper to discover where in the wonderful World Wide Web is the hippest place to be right now.

Almost immediately I discovered a recent study by America’s Pew Internet Project, which found evidence of “waning enthusiasm” from teenagers on Facebook.

While there were some reports of positive feedback from teenage focus groups on the social network, a large proportion said they had taken a hiatus from the site for a variety of reasons.

Those included “too much gossip and drama” and not surprisingly the looming presence of their parents and other family members.

More than 70% of teenagers are Facebook friends with their parents and this has had a direct effect on how they use the site.  A total of 57% of young users admit they have chosen not to post something because they wouldn’t want it seen by members of their family.


Although there is no evidence of young people turning their back on the site permanently it does seem that they are now diversifying the range of social media platforms they choose to use.

As “social media fatigue” sets in among the earliest adopters of Facebook they are now looking to new outlets to connect with their friends.

While Twitter continues to show steady growth among young users, it is photo sharing app Instagram that has really exploded in popularity, hitting 100 million users earlier this year.Using a social neetwork on a desktop PC

The simplicity of Instagram has been credited with helping to attract young users. That then fuels the network effect – as the demographic skews younger, even more young people make the leap onto Instagram because that is where their friends are.

In short, young people are happiest and most comfortable in the places where they can connect with their own generation without having to exercise the same level of caution that they would with Facebook posts, which are scrutinised by older relatives.

The impact of this on businesses is that there really is no room for complacency when it comes to social media.

Whether you are a business or organisation which wants to reach young people, or simply likes to listen to what they are talking about and track the trends and topics they are interested in, you have to be nimble and fleet footed.

Awareness of the constantly evolving landscape of the world of social media is vital to ensure that sites adjust to the fast changing media world, enabling businesses to engage in the most effective way they can.

Private: Heather Peebles

Based as a PR in Edinburgh, Heather Peebles is a highly-valued member of the team at Holyrood PR. Her work with the Scottish public relations consultancy sees her advising clients in healthcare, construction, renewables and logistics. As well as delivering numerous successful PR campaigns, she is also experienced in crisis PR and reputation management.

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