There is an ongoing debate in my office about whether or not Facebook will go the way of MySpace. Some say Facebook is dying and won't be around in 10 years. I disagree, but I would contend that my coworkers are correct in saying that Facebook is becoming less frequented by teenagers (the age group we work with). However, my argument for Facebook's survival is that it is thriving with the older crowd. Where it used to be the domain of teenagers and college students, now it has become the digital stomping ground for moms in their 30's and 40's. After having this debate, I decided to test my theory by posting this status on Facebook:
"Doing an experiment. Comment with which age group you fit into. Teenager, 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, etc. Trying to see which age group is really engaged with Facebook."
I wasn't sure how that was going to go. How many responses would I get? Would it tell us anything? Well, it went pretty well and there are a total (so far) of 174 responses. That is roughly 6% of my Facebook friends who responded. The results are displayed in the chart below.
As you can see, my theory seems to have been correct. The overwhelming majority of people who responded were in their 20's 30's and 40's. Here are the hard numbers of responses:
Teenagers - 12
20's - 47 (winner)
30's - 45
40's - 45
50's - 17
60's - 3
Obviously, this isn't a very scientific study. There are lots of flaws with my statistical methodology. Lots of questions arise. Are my friends skewed to these ages? Maybe a little, but I do work with high school kids, lots of them, I'm probably facebook friends with at least 400 teenagers, maybe more. I'm 40 so logically most of my friends would be my age, right? Not really, because I've been working with teenagers for 20+ years, so I've accumulated friends from all those era's on Facebook. Are certain age groups less likely to respond to the question? Most likely yes, I'd guess high school folks would be less likely, but while that may be true I don't think that explains that they had less than one third the responses of the 20's, 30's and 40's. Also, there were more people in their 50's that responded than did teenagers. That to me is the stat that tells you that the younger generation has moved on from Facebook.
Where have they gone? Simple, Twitter, and Instagram.
Why? To get away from all the old people that are taking over Facebook.
Now Facebook purchased Instagram for a billion, yes a BILLION dollars this past year, so they may not be getting away from their parents and their parents friends as fast as they think they are, but if you think Facebook is for the young and hip, then you're old and out of it.
Is Facebook going away like my office mates suggest? I would argue, no. It is now the repository for middle aged people who are documenting their kids lives, and will eventually use Facebook to document their grandkids lives. Unless of course Facebook makes some huge misstep in the future like Instagram did this week. We will have to wait and see.
If you're in your 20's, 30's or 40's you can find the author of this article, Derek Bonesteel on Facebook.
If you're a teenager you can find him on Twitter.