07:04 AM

TrendWatch: Younger People Abandoning Facebook


I have two kids, Matt, 21, and Sarah, who just turned 15. I often ask them about their online habits and those of their friends.

Matt and his friends aren't all that keen on Facebook, they are spending a lot less time there. Where are they going? It's not clear they are going anywhere else. Also, a lot of them use Youtube as a free streaming music service. Twitter hardly registers at all with this group.

Sarah and friends spend a lot of time on MySpace, which is also where they find new music. Music is one of the key draws for Sarah. Texting is a big deal in this group, much more than making cell phone calls. But texting programs are expensive unless you can get onto an all-you-can-eat plan. T-Mobile is very popular in this group.

When Sarah was much younger she and her friends spent a lot of time on Gaia Online virtual world. She still visits occasionally. Twitter doesn't register at all in this group.

Elsewhere, I'm seeing some reflections of these trends.

Today on BusinessWeek Europe, there is a report about UK teens losing interest in social networks:

Ofcom, the media regulator, found social networking is growing more slowly, and among the 15 to 24 age group those with a profile fell five percentage points from the end of March last year to 50 per cent in 2009.

The decline could be because of older adults...

While social networking was losing its lustre for teens and those in their early twenties, Britons aged between 35 and 54 embraced it. The group proved the fastest growing, with 35 per cent claiming an account, up 8 percentage points. Facebook still remained the dominant player in the UK, rising 73 per cent to hit a unique monthly audience of 19 million. Users also spent six hours a month on the site.

Rival MySpace (NWS) saw some growth while Bebo spiralled 17 per cent lower.

Foremski's Take: The Ofcom survey shows that people will move around and drop online places and move to others, or change their online habits entirely. Will this also happen with the "older" crowd? Yes, why not?

Facebook and Twitter, for example, have been fun and interesting but they aren't the same experience now as when I was still discovering the services when there were fewer users. Now, they seem overrun with marketeers and I'm visiting less.

There will undoubtably be newer, cooler, places to go hang out online. And these new online places will increasingly be invite only, you won't know they are there, for the most part. Such as SVW's upcoming Rooster Club :) Let me know if you'd like an invite when we're ready to launch in a few months (tom (at) foremski.com.)