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The Changing Face of Facebook

Facebook, the social networking service launched in February 2004, by founder and creator Mark Zuckerberg and his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. The website’s membership was initially limited to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and gradually most universities in Canada and the United States and by late 2006; membership was available to anyone over the age of 13 with a valid email address. Today Facebook is the default social network with more than one billion member users around the world.

Facebook has recently been valued at more than 100 billion dollars; a valuation based more on its potential advertising revenue than on actual profit performance, a value formula applied almost exclusively in the internet and social media universe.  But while the Facebook phenomena is a story of revolution in social interaction and marketing, it has grown into a prime example of how, in time all things, even revolutionary things, change.

Once the domain of younger, tech savvy, internet social surfers, todays Facebook is becoming not your father’s Facebook, but rather your grandfather’s Facebook. The biggest growth in users is among adults over the age of 55. Facebook has added 12.4 million new users from this age range, a massive 80.4 percent growth while at the same time more than 3 million teens have abandoning the original social site in favor of microblogging networks like Tumblr and messaging apps like Snapchat.  It seems that there is nothing cool about having parents and grandparents “liking” pictures of your friends.

Even with the demographic shift, a new report from BI Intelligence shows why Facebook remains a powerful platform for companies, brands, and products. Facebook’s surprisingly strong statistics in terms of gender breakdown, income levels, and age diversity makes it the obvious go-to marketing platform. Perhaps Facebook’s most compelling statistics:

– Population and Penetration: 67% of Internet users in the U.S. are on Facebook. In European markets, penetration is even higher (82% in the U.K.).

– Age: Facebook still skews young. In the U.S., 83% of 18 to 29-year-olds who use the Internet are on it.  The 45- to 54-year-old age bracket has seen 46% growth since year-end 2012.

– Income: Among U.S. Internet users, 73% have incomes above $75,000.

– Mobile: Facebook is the most popular social media app on smartphones and accounts for 66% of total social media sharing on iPhones.

– International: Eight-six percent of Facebook’s users are outside the U.S.

– Gender: Facebook skews slightly toward women. But it is more gender neutral than Pinterest and Google+.

– Education: Nearly 75% of U.S. Internet users who have had at least some education in college use Facebook, according to Pew Research.

Overall, in the light of the demographic shift, active social media users of all ages continue to utilize Facebook to connect with friends, share photos, link to social gaming and participate in contest and giveaways.  In the future social marketers will need to more clearly investigate and understand what demographic they are most likely to reach, not only on Facebook but on competing social media sites.  As competition changes the social media landscape, marketers will need to diversify their paths taken to connecting with consumers through social media channels.

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