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Facebook Must Win The Grownup Vote

By - December 16, 2013

facebookdownthumbIt’s all over the media these days: Facebook is no longer cool, Facebook has lost its edge with teenagers, Facebook is now establishment.

Well duh. Teenagers aren’t loyal to much of anything, especially Internet stuff. Tonight I had four of them at my table, ranging in age from 15 to 17. All of them agreed that Facebook was over. It was a unanimous, instant, and unemotional verdict. They agreed they had to have a Facebook page. But none of them much cared about it anymore. Facebook was now work – and they’re kids after all. Who wants to work?

And when I asked if their little brothers and sisters were into Facebook? Nope, not one.

I turned to the 10 year-old at the table, my youngest daughter. I realized she had never once mentioned a desire to get a Facebook page, and seemed bored by the discussion overall. Of course, she’s already on Snapchat.

Interesting. When my now 15-year old was 10, she begged us night and day to get a Facebook page. Now, she uses it “because she has to.”

What about Facebook-purchased Instagram? Still good, but the Facebook connection is seen as a negative. Snapchat? Great, but warning signs abound (they’re not sure about whether they trust the service). Vine? Super cool. Twitter? Well….they know Twitter is coming in their lives – something that they’d dabbled in, but will grow into, once they’d learned how to be a proper public person.

You know, a grownup.

Facebook, which started as a site for college kids (OK, OK, Harvard kids), must know it has to get in front of this particular parade. Because as far as I can tell, Facebook’s future is with grownups now. And grownups are more world wise, more demanding, and more thoughtful than college kids. But the Facebook app still feels very….high school.

Maybe that’s why Facebook is talking about becoming your personal newspaper (really? A news site?!).

I wrote many moons ago about how Facebook, to win on the Internet, would need to let go of its data lock in, and compete as a service irrespective of its natural social graph monopoly. It looks like the competition is on – a generation is growing up with Facebook being an optional service – an absolutely unimaginable state of affairs just three or so years ago.

 

Do you think Facebook can make the transition? 

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  • sibel akcekaya

    You get what you give..I started using Facebook during college years and then it was a very private network. You have a choice of not to show up in friends’ list,and that way you could prevent drama. If I am a teenager, I would not want my mom, aunt, uncle, grandpa on my Facebook list, because I would want to do fun silly teenager stuff with my friends. But when people can find you , how you can say no. Then Facebook removed lots of other privacy features without even telling us, Facebook pushed us to share more stuff public, tried to become like MySpace. For example if you post profile picture now, it’s default PUBLIC. It is very sneaky, because lots of people are still not aware of that. Although I am not teenager and grown-up, I’ve personally started to share less and less everyday, Facebook became something less personal for me. I started to follow lots of companies, so in my feed I end up seeing lots of general stuff instead of personal stuff. Well that’s what Facebook for me now..

    • johnbattelle

      The problem Facebook faces is not trivial. Perhaps the first version of Facebook was….less than we ultimately wanted.

  • http://www.Chagora.com CulturalEngineer

    The core required for the establishment of a monied “Like” button… which by necessity would extend beyond the population of Facebook users provides a more stable home for a ‘grownup’ utility.

    Though its true that Facebook would play a role… it may be that an agreement between the various browser/email providers… which includes Facebook… could do a better job of it.*

    * i.e. a structure in some ways similar to ClearXChange which is an independent creation of Wells Fargo, BofA and Chase.

    The potential for the monied ‘like’ button extends well beyond the button itself.

    Characteristics of the Monied “Like” Button
    http://culturalengineer.blogspot.com/2013/12/characteristics-of-monied-like-button.html

    One-Click Micropayment Capability for Volume Solicitations and Multiple Providers
    http://culturalengineer.blogspot.com/2013/12/one-click-micropayment-capability-for.html

  • Canyon Creep

    Amazing extrapolation of anecdotes.

    • johnbattelle

      Yes, anecdotal entirely. The media reports, however, are based on studies (though we all know what that means). I just find it pretty accurate when I ask a group of teens what they are into online. They’ve never failed to spot a trend.

      • dv

        Will go further and say that Facebook is also becoming “boring” ie. most people are realizing that there is “less boring” entertainment out on the net then reading people’s status. After a few years of reading comments and statuses and their likes from the same group of people – well, it becomes pretty tedious.

  • george

    The habit produces the novel idea, but only until the habit goes away. Unfortunately, FB can’t act open and not be open, partnership is too important to their sustainability. The App world has evolved, and is now more capable at delivering better direct connections. And then there were two – Google and Apple.

  • FireBlogger

    I’m observing fewer posts per week by my heavy use friends and their participation in conversation around the site is waning somewhat as well.
    Meanwhile in the news feed I am seeing politically conservative FB friends with auto posts endorsing groups and organizations on the opposite side of the political spectrum.
    Of course they have no idea their name is attached to something that would otherwise appall or offend them. This will only be tolerated to a point but should not be happening at all.

  • Andrew Elva

    I think , Facebook will may be “grownup”>>
    http://www.cloudwalks.com