Facebook: great sales channel or network "for the old"?
09. November 2022
In the Czech Republic, Facebook is still the most used social media platform, just behind YouTube — even though, according to recent research, it is seen as a network for the old. Looking at the data more closely, it’s not clear that the numerical dominance of Facebook is entirely based on active users: many young people see it as a search engine, use it primarily to log in to other platforms, and they are therefore largely passive users. So far in 2022, Snapchat and TikTok have shown the biggest growth, while the heaviest Facebook users are the 30-44 age group, closely followed by 44-59. These demographics cover both millennials, who experienced the advent of Facebook and have had profiles on the platform for over a decade, and also people covered by the catchphrase "OK BOOMER".
- Who is Facebook for now?
- Where did Facebook go wrong?
- Why are companies still using it?
- What’s next for Facebook?
Facebook has changed a lot since its early days, when its purpose was to be an active social network, where people shared thoughts and photos with their IRL friends. Today, the share value is falling due to the outflow of young users and strong competition from TikTok. But, there are things it is still doing well and, for the majority of businesses, it remains worthwhile having a profile on the platform. Facebook has become a community network for many people: "Facebook groups are really active , whether they are professional, interest groups or even school groups," explains social media specialist Klara Hejcmanová. Meanwhile, “Generation Z goes to Facebook to get information about a product, event or e-shop, but they typically don't actively use their profile anymore," she adds.
The key factor seems to be competition. At a time when it was only possible to see photos of holidays, children and your friends’ dogs on your Facebook homepage, over on Instagram you could choose your own content from an almost unlimited selection — a welcome change! Another innovation was that you could follow your favourite celebrity without having to add them as a friend. Another factor is increasing concern over data privacy and a lack of trust in the platform following the 2018 Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
The reason many companies still use Facebook for outreach is because the social network has a great handle on ad targeting. "Facebook has excellent campaign targeting," explains Klára. Moreover, if they were to leave the network, they would most likely lose some of their existing customers, who primarily engage with them through the platform. But using Facebook for outreach does have a downside: the days when content was self-promoting are long gone. "As soon as you stop paying for organic reach, the network automatically cuts it short. This doesn't happen on TikTok yet — there, it’s still possible to achieve great results without money," adds Klára. So, if you want to reach your customers using social media, Facebook could be the platform for you, but to make the most of the sophisticated ad targeting, you need to know your audience very well. And, if your target demographic is teenagers, give it a miss altogether.
Facebook undoubtedly has a declining number of active users, but this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Just as millennials have stopped reading print media and watching TV in large numbers, younger generations are giving up on a network they find outdated. Until now, Facebook has solved its problems by acquiring other networks, most famously Instagram and Whatsapp. It’s also apparently considering changing News Feed (now just called ‘Feed’) to allow users to customise content to see more posts from friends, or groups that actually interest them. sers have been complaining for a while that their feed is full of content that doesn't interest them, which is why, according to an article published on Techcrunch.com, it is considering an update to its algorithm that will make it better able to compete with TikTok. At the same time, it wants to strengthen Reels. Only time will tell whether these measures will be enough to lure younger users – for now, it’s fair to say that Facebook has an ageing user base, and no immediate prospects of turning it around.