Study is wrong in suggesting US teens are abandoning Facebook

The results in summary according to Digital Trends:

Following up from the Spring 2014 ‘Taking Stock With Teens’ study created by Piper Jaffray, the Fall 2014 edition of the study was published this week with a particularly harsh outlook for social networking giant Facebook. When teens were asked what social network they typically use, only 45 percent responded with Facebook. That’s down from 72 percent responding Facebook just six months ago.

Alternatively, Instagram grew in popularity with 76 percent responding in the affirmative. In addition, sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Reddit pulled in similar numbers as the last study. Only Google+ plummeted with Facebook, dropping from 21 percent in Spring 2014 to just 12 percent in the Fall study.

The story makes it seem like Facebook is on the way out but I have a different take. It’s not helpful to view any particular app from a “one to rule it all” perspective — though it may have started that way — because people have learned to use each service in a different way. Facebook doesn’t compete directly with Instagram even though both are on the surface social networks.

Facebook has become an official record; a kind of passport for the Internet, which formally details that person’s social graph. So I’m betting nearly 100% of the teens polled still have a Facebook account, and intend to occasionally update it to polish their public persona.

However, it won’t be the tool they use to connect with their real friends on a day-to-day basis. They increasingly use chat for that, and Instagram to share to a circle larger than just close friends but which is still substantially more intimate than Facebook.

Facebook understands this, which is why they now have a diversified portfolio of communication/social tools:

  • For talking to close friends and contacts — Whatsapp, FB Messenger and Bolt
  • For sharing to friends and acquaintances — Instagram and Slingshot
  • For displaying their public persona — Facebook

One thing they’re missing is anonymous sharing, as pioneered by Secret, Whisper and to a lesser degree Reddit.

Lo and behold, according to the New York Times, Facebook is about to release a new app based on anonymity.

Facebook has long attempted to be the place where, above all else, you try to be yourself.

Soon, Facebook will allow you to be yourself, but under a different name.

The company is working on a stand-alone mobile application that allows users to interact inside of it without having to use their real names, according to two people briefed on Facebook’s plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the project.

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