Facebook started as a platform for college students and quickly became popular with teenagers as well. As the platform went through the adoption curve it started to pick up older users. As the Facebook demographic shifted, so too did it’s appeal to the younger audience that helped establish its dominance. This USA Today article, “Facebook losing young users even faster to Snapchat, eMarketer says“, talks about some of the challenges currently facing Facebook and how Snapchat is now growing its user base faster than Facebook. Better privacy control, faster viewing, and limited permanence are some of the factors that are driving 12-17 teenagers toward Snapchat and away from Facebook. 6 years ago Facebook recognized the threat and acquired Instagram as a means of continued access to teenagers but Snapchat is now getting new users even faster than Instagram.
The consequences of this change can be significant for Facebook. Their business model relies on advertising and if they can capture users early in life it is much easier (and cheaper) to retain those users rather than trying to switch users off of competing platforms. Should Facebook modify their platform to cater to younger viewers? What would they have to do? Could they be successful with a redesign or is their present brand identity too strong for younger viewers to consider using them? Can they succeed if they stay focused on an older demographic?