It’s 2007. Facebook is the latest buzzword to hit the streets. An exciting combination of MySpace and MSN Messenger, we can connect with friends while building our unique and identifiable online profile.
We volunteer every bit of information we can think of: favourite colour, date of birth, job title, city, university, sexual orientation. You want it? You can have it, Facebook.
Everyone relevant is on there. From your best friend to your holiday pals from 2004, and it was your job to build the richest and most accurate digital representation of you.
A few daily status updates to promote your carefree and witty personality -
‘Nicola Risi is…eating pizza.’
- and you were well on your way.
Atleast, that's how it all started.
Facebook quickly became the place to gather and chat with friends, exchange messages, share photos and opinions, and receive invites to events, without even leaving your room. A sense of inclusion prevailed. We worked hard and fast to build up our friendship lists, status updates and photo albums, in a bid to create a rich and abundant cyber profile.
That was over ten years ago.
Today, Facebook knows everything: who you were in a relationship with two years ago, which of your friends deleted you, where you’ve travelled, your political views, interests, hobbies, etc, etc.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal was just a reminder. Facebook is too invasive. Back then, privacy settings, permanence and hard deletion were things only ‘older’ people worried about. Either that, or we just didn’t fully comprehend how detrimental our enthusiasm to overshare could be.
Interesting findings show that Facebook should expect to see a 3.4 % drop in users aged 12-17 in 2018. When quizzed on their reluctance to stay, comments along the lines of “Our parents have killed it" and, “It’s just a way for people to be nosey” tend to crop up.
I’ve always been fascinated by the difference in generational responses to trends and Generation Z, in particular, shows a strong preference for the ephemerality of Snapchat and Instagram.
Meanwhile, millennials tend to float between platforms, scared of completely letting go for ‘fear of missing out’, while Baby Boomers just love Facebook, sharing over 20% more than any other generation.
This is something we need to be aware of not just personally, but as marketers too. Where do your buyer personas sit within the generational divisions, and could this influence a relationship with your brand? If people are trusting digital platforms less, the accuracy of the information they share will undoubtedly be compromised. Where Baby Boomers and Gen X thrive, Millennials and Gen Z could migrate elsewhere.
The irony is that despite all of the privacy problems and daily cringes Facebook reliably delivers, deleting my account would result in losing hundreds of photos and memories, plus contact with far away friends and relatives I would otherwise never have the opportunity to speak to. And while Millennials are becoming more reluctant to share, we're equally reluctant to let go of our cyber alter-egos. I've hovered over the 'Permanently delete account' button for some time, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.
Facebook is losing young users even quicker than expected, according to new estimates by eMarketer. The digital measurement firm predicted last year that Facebook would see a 3.4 percent drop in 12- to 17-year-old users in the U.S. in 2017, the first time it had predicted a drop in usage for any age group on Facebook.