Can Facebook win back younger users, and re-establish itself as the connective platform of choice moving forward?
It’s no secret that Facebook has lost ground to TikTok and Snapchat among younger audiences, which trends have indicated for some time, and which was officially confirmed as part of the recent Facebook Files data leaks.
Indeed, within the thousands of pages of internal documents shared by former Facebook engineer Frances Haugen were various notes and charts showing that younger audiences have been steadily losing interest in The Social Network – including this graph which shows that usage of the platform among those aged 18-24 has been in decline since 2012.
That’s a big problem, because while Facebook still has some 2.9 billion users, making it far and away the most popular social media app on the planet, its usage in established regions (North America and Europe) is pretty much static, even declining quarter-by-quarter, which, if it can’t reverse such trends, and re-engage younger audiences, could eventually see the platform lose relevance entirely, and lose touch with a whole new generation of digital consumers who may no longer view Facebook as the leader in the space.
That’s what happened to MySpace, and as Facebook looks to the future, it knows that it will need to maximize its youth appeal in order to stay on top of the heap, and crucially, to generate interest in its coming, metaverse-aligned shift.
In the company’s most recent earnings announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged this, and said that re-establishing connection with younger audiences will be a key focus moving forward.
“We’re retooling our teams to make serving young adults their north star, rather than optimizing for the larger number of older people. Like everything, this will involve trade-offs in our products and it will likely mean that the rest of our community will grow more slowly than it otherwise would have. But it should also mean that our services become stronger for young adults. This shift will take years, not months, to fully execute, and I think it’s the right approach to building our community and company for the long term.”
So how will Facebook do this, and will it actually be able to re-engage younger audiences, now that the platform is seen as more invasive, less cool – and really, far behind TikTok as the place to be for the latest trends?
We’re now seeing the first stages of this new approach. Following the announcement of its new ‘Meta’ branding last week, Facebook shared a range of video clips from – not ironically – TikTok influencers giving their take on the update.
As you can see in this clip, from the truly great Emily Zugay (who’s delivery is just so spot on), Facebook has partnered with several high profile TikTok creators to put a more light-hearted, trending spin on their corporate re-branding effort.
Note the #metapartner tag on each of these clips – these were not created randomly, nor were these influencers organically inspired to give their take on Facebook’s update. Facebook has paid these users to create these clips, then promoted each from their own branded accounts.
At the same time, Facebook’s also trying to latch onto other memes and trends related to its announcement, in the hopes of sparking more youth engagement.
It feels a little forced, but even so, by using these popular influencers, and acknowledging web trends, that could help Facebook boost its youth appeal, either by softening its brand image through more light-hearted takes, or by appearing on the profiles of these popular users, and becoming a part of web trends, as opposed to being the butt of such jokes.
It’s hard to say whether that’ll work, and definitely, a corporate entity trying to lean into web culture can fall flat. For every Wendy’s Twitter account there are 100 more brands that try and fail to post snappy, witty retorts, and end up just looking desperate as a result.
And some of Facebook’s early efforts have also looked that way.
But they are generating engagement, regardless, and it may well be helping Facebook – or Meta, more operatively – to shift perceptions, and update people’s view of the company as a more progressive, and connected brand that’s well-placed to lead the way into the next major digital connectivity shift.
Maybe. Facebook itself is still at the center of a range of controversies and complaints, and the ongoing media coverage of such will likely sour its reputation for some time to come – and even a re-branding is unlikely to create enough separation to shield Meta from the broader brand damage as a result. But maybe, through Meta, Facebook can shift the focus onto the metaverse more specifically, and away from Facebook the app. Of course, it still needs Facebook as a key connector, but maybe, by making the metaverse so cool, users will accept the concession that they’ll still need Facebook to take part, and that, in turn, will lessen negative perceptions around the app.
There’s a long way to go on this, and Facebook has a significant task ahead of it to become the ‘cool’ brand once again. But potentially, through deals with popular influencers, like TikTok stars, as with this initial push, it will be able to re-connect, from a metaverse-focused perspective, while the addition of games like GTA: San Andreas in VR will also play a big part in building connection with key cultural elements and shifts.
It may seem a little lame at times, but that’s probably a risk that Facebook will have to take as it works to make Meta something that younger users will want to engage with in future.
What we do know, based on experience, is that Facebook is not great at generating hype based on its own internal teams, and that its past approach to such is what’s gradually seen it lose relevance due to a disconnect with popular culture as it loses touch with its audience. TikTok is far better on this, as is Snapchat. And now, Facebook will once again look to steal from them to re-ignite its own push.
Original Article: socialmediatoday.com
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Instagram Launches Live Test of Longer Videos in Stories
After it was spotted in testing last month, Instagram has now officially launched a live test of 60-second videos in Stories, which will mean that longer video clips will no longer be split into 15-second segments, and played across various Stories frames.
We asked Instagram about the update, and it provided this statement:
“The ability to create longer Stories posts comes highly requested by our community. We’re excited to be testing 60-second Stories so that people can create and view Stories with fewer interruptions.”
Instagram says that the option is currently being tested with a small group of users, with a view to providing more creative freedom, and further integrating the app’s various video options to streamline its creative tools and functions.
Which, really, is the key focus. Back in January, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri flagged a coming consolidation of the app’s video products, with a view to better facilitating creation, and scaling back the platform’s various tools. That started with the merging of its video feed posts into a single format early last month, along with the retirement of the IGTV brand.
As Mosseri explained to Decoder:
“We’re looking about how we can – not just with IGTV, but across all of Instagram – simplify and consolidate ideas, because last year we placed a lot of new bets. I think this year we have to go back to our focus on simplicity and craft.”
The re-thinking of its approach has been largely influenced by TikTok, which has become the most popular social app among young users, overtaking Instagram as the cool place to be.
Part of TikTok’s core appeal is simplicity – on TikTok, you open to a full-screen feed of video clips and live-streams, with all of it combined into one, optimized, focused listing, tailored to each individual user.
Instagram is far more segmented, with Reels in a separate feed, and Stories in its own section. That could be restricting optimal take-up, which is why Instagram’s now looking to bring all of these elements together, which will also, eventually, enable it to showcase the best of each aspect in a single, more-engaging stream.
The expansion to 60-second video clips in Stories is another step in this gradual merging, which, at some stage, will likely see the app open to a full-screen feed of Stories, feed posts and Reels, all in one, enabling IG, like TikTok, to use the full breadth of uploaded content to maximize user engagement.
It’s still a way off that next stage, but longer videos will mean that users can now post full Reels to Stories, for example, essentially merging the two functions automatically. Then it’s just determining how it shifts from the traditional feed to a more Stories/Reels aligned one instead.
That’s a bigger step, and a more fundamental change for the app. But as part of Meta’s broader focus on winning back younger users, you can bet that it’s coming, and likely sooner, rather than later.
Which is why this new test is a significant step. It’s limited for now, but you can expect to see longer Stories videos coming to your Instagram app sometime soon.
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