It’s no surprise that flocks of young people are leaving Facebook, and it isn’t particularly surprising why they’re leaving, either. With almost every parent in America (and around the world, for that matter) on Facebook, young people don’t want to give Mom and Dad another way to cramp their style. And, especially among younger Gen-Zers, many of them are refusing to sign up in the first place. So it begs the question, will Generation Z use Facebook?
The current state of Facebook
Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world, and it isn’t even a close competition. With over a billion users and counting, it would be naive to think that Facebook will drop off the face of the Earth. A better question—and certainly one that deserves our attention—is how, if at all, these young people will engage with the social media giant.
Facebook serves a wide variety of purposes: it allows you to post photos and status updates, create groups and events and even sell your old clothes and furniture. While Facebook’s catch-all identity may be attractive to some, it also may deter others. Young people seem to like apps and programs with a singular utility—that is, they like apps that specialize in one specific thing. Facebook, on the other hand, seems to do a lot of things sufficiently, but doesn’t have a “specialty,” so to speak. Instagram, for example, has a wide variety of customization features for photos; Facebook does not. Twitter allows for anonymity; Facebook does not. Snapchat allows for rapid-fire, instantaneous photo-sharing; Facebook does not.
What Facebook has going for it
In combining many different features, Facebook does, however, provide a level of connectedness unmatched by any other social media platform. It’s a one-stop-shop for all of your social media needs. And, because of the wide breadth of regular users, Facebook’s financial future looks more promising yet: advertisers and marketers are practically dying to get their products posted on the most popular social media platform on the planet.
Facebook has also launched a new fundraising feature, allowing both groups and personal users to raise money digitally—very much like GoFundMe. This feature is especially useful for organizations with a wide reach on Facebook; nonprofits and for-profits alike are able to seek donations in the same place that they share information and connect with their communities.
Facebook has the biggest social media network in the world, and they have money. A lot of money. These two things make for a lethal combination. When other apps launch new features that users love, Facebook can more-or-less copy them. Take Snapchat stories, for instance. After Snapchat founder refused to sell the app to Facebook, Zuckerberg and Co. just created their own “story” feature. Because Facebook already has such a massive loyal following, these features are almost sure to succeed. But, even if they don’t, Facebook can more than afford to take the loss.
What the experts say
While it is simply too early to say with certainty what the next generation’s long-term social media habits will be, there are experts in the field with valuable insight. Derrick Feldman, a social media guru and founder of data-driven research and campaigns agency Achieve, thinks that discounting one form of social media solely based on speculation is simply bad strategy. “Ignoring a single platform because someone at some time said its use was declining is never a good strategy,” he said.
Feldman compares the supposed “decline of Facebook” to similar proclamations of dying mediums. “How many times have we heard in fundraising that ‘direct mail is dead,’ or that ‘millennials don’t use email,’ or another similar claim—yet we still see hundreds of thousands of dollars (and more) brought in from these channels each year?”
Overall, Derrick doesn’t think Facebook is going anywhere: “Facebook isn’t going to completely disappear, and a fundraising strategy should never only focus on a single demographic—or a single tactic. Now and in the future, a multi-generational, multi-platform strategy will always prove most successful.”
John Haydon, a nonprofit digital marketing expert, thinks Facebook has a promising future among teens. “The future of Facebook for teens is pretty solid, but teens use it very differently than Gen-Xers.” Haydon sees Facebook’s Messenger application as the main attraction for teens because it provides private, highly customizable messaging.
While Facebook may not be the hippest or coolest thing around by kids’ standards, it provides users with an incredible number of features, making marketing and fundraising that much easier. It’s impossible to say with absolute confidence whether or not Facebook will stand the test of time, but, if data and expert testimony are any indication, the youngsters might want to get on board.