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Facebook Finds New Ways To Attract Gen Z

Is Facebook losing its cool? Apparently so if you ask Gen Z. For the first time in history, Facebook is shrinking in popularity amongst young people, but this may not be the case for long.

The Story:

2021 may be described as the beginning of a new era for social media. Maybe this is the year when industry giants begin to lose ground to the new kids on the block. 

In a recent report by Edison, less than half (47%) say it is the most used platform. That’s down from 54% the year before. This makes 2021 the first year that Facebook is not indicated as the most-used platform by most social media users. Much of Facebook’s loss seems to have been taken up by those in the 12–34 age demographic’s interest in Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Among 12-34 year-olds, Instagram has far surpassed Facebook as the social media platform used most often as one third of 12-34 year olds (33%) say Instagram is the social site they use most, followed by Facebook at 21%, Snapchat at 15% and fast-rising TikTok at 14%.

The Trend: 

So what does Instagram offer that Facebook doesn’t?

With billions of active users, it’s clear that these social networking sites are powerful and have a lot of opportunities for your brand to engage with consumers. Even better, Facebook and Instagram have been hard at work bridging the gap between user bases. Things like the ability to have an Instagram placement for a Facebook ad and allowing users to share Instagram Stories directly to Facebook are just two of the ways these platforms have created moments of synergy for marketers and users alike.

Part of the shift of the demographics is likely to do with the younger consumers’ desire to be onto the next trend pretty quickly. This difference in audience provides an excellent opportunity for companies trying to reach a younger demographic. Let’s not discount the older audience though. An advantage of being a popular social network for older consumers is that the users can have higher incomes. Depending on what products or services your company offers, this could be extremely advantageous.

Our Take

Instagram is about capturing moments. People don’t open Instagram to find out your company’s business hours. They use Instagram to engage. That’s what makes it so effective for building your brand and gaining popularity. Facebook on the other hand is largely informational. You can find out things about a company through its Facebook page, such as its business hours or upcoming events. Facebook historically has always focused on text because it’s detail-driven. That’s why it takes longer to create a profile on Facebook than it does on Instagram. They serve different purposes, but both can be beneficial for marketing to different demographics.

Facebook is doing everything it can to reestablish its once-powerful youthful draw. From dating apps to playful photo layouts, the social media platform is grasping at straws to stay relevant with younger demographics. The platform is still pushing hard to keep up with the youth, maybe these new features will provide an opportunity for the platform to gain back some of that…

The Story:

Facebook Adds New Photo ‘Layouts’ Feature to put a different spin on your images.

Facebook is rolling out a new ‘Layouts’ option within its post composer tools, which provides a range of frames and formats to add a fresh take to your visuals posted to the app. As you can see in the example below, Matt Navarra shared the new tool in operation and the various formats and frames on offer. But where can I find this? You might be wondering, well, the new Layouts option can be found in your post composer tools within the Facebook app. Not all users have access to the option at the moment though.

  1. Facebook is now suggesting topics for users to follow in their feed 

Facebook is looking to expand user engagement around specific topics, with new displays of topics to follow now being shown to some users within their news feed. The new topic prompts are based on content, people and pages that you’ve interacted with. Facebook also recently expanded its ‘Related Discussions’ prompts to more users, to showcase more content related to your interests, which, in combination, could help Facebook boost on-platform engagement and activity, by helping to guide users to more content and businesses of interest.

In this example, posted by user @whimchic on Twitter (and shared by Matt Navarra), the new topic prompts are based on content, people and Pages

  1. Facebook Introduces Dynamic Ads for Streaming

Facebook introduced dynamic ads for streaming, giving video streaming brands a way to ensure that people see selections from their content libraries that they are most likely to watch, based on interests they have shown on Facebook and Instagram. With Dynamic Ads for Streaming, when people see an ad for a service in their feed, they can swipe through the ad to see personalized, relevant titles they might be interested in, based on interests they’ve shown.  Before Dynamic Ads for Streaming, an advertiser might need to promote each media title separately. Now, advertisers can automatically generate unique ads for every title, without having to configure individual ads. 

The Trend:

The platform is also testing a lot of things, these are just a few…

  1. Live Audio Rooms is Facebook’s new Clubhouse competitor and will be available in Facebook and Messenger this summer

Users will be able to record their conversations and distribute them, and eventually, people can charge for access to these rooms through either a subscription or one-time fee. According to The Verge , the live Audio Rooms feature will be available this summer and will first roll out to groups and public figures as a test, but it will eventually make its way to Messenger, so people can hang out with friends. Facebook says it’s introducing an Audio Creator Fund to “support emerging audio creators.” All of these conversations can also be turned into “Soundbites,” a forthcoming feature that allows people to create and share short form audio clips along with an algorithmic feed to promote them. Think TikTok, but with audio clips.

Soundbite creation tool will let people put effects on their voices.

  1. Facebook is testing a video speed-dating app called Sparked

Sparked would be the second dating product from Facebook. Facebook Dating, operates similarly to most dating apps in that people can view a public profile of a potential match and then send a like to possibly receive one back and start a conversation.This was  launched in the US in 2019 and has since recently been rolled out into the UK. Facebook is now testing Sparked, a video speed-dating app. 

Sparked is described as ‘video dating with kind people’ and promises no swiping, no DMs and is free to use, but requires a Facebook profile to create an account, as reported by The Verge, the app cycles users through four-minute sessions, then a 10-minute second date can be set up and after that, the conversation can move to Instagram, iMessage or email. 

First glimpse at the Sparked app. Image Source:The Verge

Our Take:

The features that Facebook are implementing are interesting. But can these features actually excite young people? Well, according to comparecamp, 25.1 million people used online dating apps on their smartphones in 2020 and millennials make up the largest sector of online dating users, with 36% of people aged 18 to 29 saying that they’ve used an online dating service or app. Therefore Sparked might actually be used and enjoyed by the majority of younger people.

In regards to the topic-based recommendations Facebook is ruling out, this is something that they have been trying to work on for a number of years. It’s impossible to predict how effective they’ll be, but who knows how many people will opt to choose a topic and get more of that general content in their Facebook feed. This could actually help Facebook in it’s ad targeting efforts though, with Apple’s coming IDFA update, which is expected to see many users opt-out of in-app tracking, that’ll make it harder for Facebook to provide in-depth data trails of customer interests. 

In terms of Facebook’s plans for Live Audio Rooms, it’s tough to understand how serious Facebook is about audio. Live audio chat platforms boomed in the pandemic as consumers were looking for human connection. Post-pandemic, there may still be a space for them as major tech companies are heading into the broader podcasting industry. Is Live Audio Rooms something that users will actually want though? Or are their other platforms that do it better…

The data from Edison about young people’s social media activity demonstrates more than a shift in behavior — it also signals young consumers’ unique attitude toward social networks. To this demographic, whose world is rife with social media channels and content, the novelty is no longer about reach and breadth, but about differentiation, specific value and emotional benefits. While they regard Facebook as a utility that enables broad connection, they view other networks as the “go to” for particular experiences like entertainment, brand discovery or intimate communication. That’s why Instagram, Snapchat, Tiktok and even YouTube are all you hear younger people talking about.

Marketers who are focusing on this demographic and wanting to engage young consumers in their content need to understand where young people spend their time and why. Subscribe to our newsletter today to stay up to date with the latest trends and insights within our industry.