Facebook has warned investors that younger users are turning to other services, particularly Instagram, as a substitute. Teens’ smartphone-centric world seems to now revolve around Instagram, Twitter and SnapChat. The good news for FB is Instagram was bought by the company in the weeks prior to Facebook’s IPO last May.
In recent weeks, Facebook has mentioned the teem flight issue twice. When it filed its annual report, it warned investors for the first time that younger users are turning to other services. Then, last week, FB CEO David Ebersman admitted that Instagram, an application he described as popular among the “younger generation,” is a “formidable competitor” to Facebook.
With more than 1 billion users worldwide and an unstated mission to make more money, Facebook has become a social network that’s often too complicated, too risky, and, above all, too overrun by parents to give teens the type of digital freedom or release they crave, noted a CNet story.
For tweens and teens, Instagram — and, more recently, SnapChat, an app for sending photos and videos that appear and then disappear — is the opposite of Facebook: simple, seemingly secret, and fun.
Asked about the issue, a Facebook representative would only tell CNet, “We are gratified that more than 1 billion people, including many young people, are using Facebook, to connect and share.”
Instagram is already a very popular service that continues to grow rapidly among the younger generation. The under-13, tween crowd, including one CNET editor’s daughter, technically isn’t allowed to use FB, as dictated by the terms of service and a federal restriction (though the law is changing this July in ways that will make it easier for kids to join, something Facebook lobbied hard for). Yet kids found Instagram anyway, largely because their parents wouldn’t let them join Facebook, argues Altimeter Group principal analyst Brian Solis. Teens 13 and up joined Instagram, he told CNet, because Facebook became “too great” a social network, where they’re now connected to their grandparents.
RBR-TVBR observation: Of course, the social media marketplace will fragment, and it was smart of FB to buy Instagram before it became too valuable. FB has become too cumbersome for many folks, along with the annoyance of the major changes it makes to the dashboard on an almost regular basis. However, the biggest reason for the teen flight is these users feel compelled to add their family members and as a result they give up their privacy. Parents aren’t yet hip to the Instagram phenomenon, so that’s “safe” for now. Sure, teens can change the FB privacy settings to keep family groups out of their regular posts, but by the time dinner is on the table, the questions will come up.