It's already been about four months since the last time I warned marketers about declining Facebook use (and it wasn't the first time, either), but now Facebook itself has come right out and admitted that yes, young teens aren't using the site quite like they used to.
In fact, studies have shown that teens are now using Twitter more frequently than Facebook, with Facebook dropping down to a meager 23 percent.
The change is complicated, however, as daily active use on Facebook is actually up by 25 percent, and revenue is up by 60 percent.
Meanwhile, teens are embracing mobile tools like WeChat, Vine, Flickr, and Skype over more traditional social networks.
It's all starting to look very complicated. What's a marketer to do?
The State of Things
Once upon a time, 42 percent of teens named Facebook their most important social network, but that number has dropped to 23 percent, and Twitter has climbed to 26 percent. Meanwhile, Facebook-owned Instagram has also climbed up to 23 percent.
The story worldwide, across all age groups, is quite a bit different, however. It goes Facebook, YouTube, Qzone (exclusive to China), Sina Weibo, WhatsApp, and Google+.
Needless to say, your target demographic is going to play a big part in which social networks you should get involved with. At the same time, it's safe to say that you should never assume Facebook is the best social network to start with. The situation has become quite a bit more complicated than that.
The trend among teens sends a very clear message, however: that social media use is increasingly fragmented. Since teens are often a sign of the direction things are headed, we can expect similar changes in broader demographics as time moves on. People will use a wider variety of social networks and tools for a wider variety of purposes.
What's perhaps most interesting is just how specific these networks and tools are becoming.
While Facebook is a catch-all network for interactions with just about everybody in your personal network, Vine is for short looping videos, WeChat is for exchanging direct messages (and is a replacement for text messaging), and Instagram, Snapchat, and Flickr are for photo sharing (each in their own specific way).
Similarly, we've also seen the growth of tools that capitalize on these networks, such as Someecards and Imgur, for their capability to quickly create memes and visual text.
The Future of Social is Everywhere
Far from seeing the decline of social media, what we're seeing is the diversification and ubiquity of social media and tools. The once novel idea of posting your information for the public to see has become passé. Now we have tools for private sharing. Meanwhile, users expect to find social tools everywhere they look. We expect everything to be interactive, not just Facebook.
Social never really was a platform, but these changes have made this increasingly obvious. Social media is a culture.
Only businesses that understand that culture can expect to fare well in the decade ahead.
Image credit: Intel Free Press