Earlier this week, a blog post by a thirteen-year-old social media user set off a debate about Facebook and teenagers. Ruby Karp‘s post on Mashable, “I’m 13 And None Of My Friends Use Facebook,” seemed to touch a nerve.
In her post, Karp mentioned the popularity of apps like Snapchat and Instagram among her friends, and the fact that Facebook seemed to be populated mainly by snooping adults and marketers.
The debate will not go away. The tech world is mystified and frightened by teens, even while desperately catering to them, knowing that teens will shape the industry’s future.
In a new report from BI Intelligence, we analyse how teens and their mobile-first habits threaten to upend the tech industry.
We specifically dig into how established Internet companies like Facebook are in fact threatened by teen audiences and their tendency to fragment across platforms. Broadly, we agree with Karp that more focused social services like Instagram and Snapchat are peeling off Facebook features and cannibalising the social network’s base.
Take a look at this infographic:
Teenagers are flocking to mobile services that peel away many of the features at the heart of Facebook. Like most trends in the tech industry, the fragmentation of social media has started with the youngest users and is working its way up the age chain.
Right now, cross-posting softens some of the edges of competition. For example, your Tumblr and Pinterest updates can automatically be cross-posted to Facebook. However, given the spate of conflicts between networks recently, one shouldn’t assume cross-posting will always be allowed.
As we argue in our report, we may be witnessing is the unravelling of a unitary, centralized social media landscape, dominated by Facebook, into a set of multipolar nodes. Facebook warded off the Instagram threat by buying the company, but it won’t always be possible for the company to neutralize threats with acquisitions.