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Continued: Facebook losing its buzz as younger users defect

  • Article by: KATIE HUMPHREY , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 2, 2013 - 9:47 AM

The one person he didn’t see online? His mom, Katherine Lamm. Both he and his older brother “unfriended” her after a while.

“I was talking to them about what I was seeing on Facebook,” Katherine Lamm said. “They thought I was invading their privacy.”

These days, she checks her boys’ Twitter and Instagram posts occasionally, but admits tracking everything is tough.

“It’s just a whole different challenge now, monitoring kids,” she said. “It’s really hard.”

Teens try new networks

Facebook knows it needs to keep younger users’ attention to stay relevant.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing earlier this year, the company wrote, “We believe that some of our users, particularly our younger users, are aware of and actively engaging with other products and services similar to, or as a substitute for, Facebook.”

Since then, Facebook has rolled out new features meant, at least in part, to appeal to teens.

Its Poke app is basically a Snapchat clone for sending photos that disappear after a few seconds. Facebook Home, a software package that puts the social network front-and-center on some smartphones, aims to capture users whose primary Internet access comes through mobile devices.

But the buzz is elsewhere.

When Piper Jaffray & Co. surveyed teens this spring about what social media sites were most important, just 33 percent said Facebook, down from 42 percent in fall 2012. Meanwhile, both Twitter (30 percent) and Instagram (17 percent) gained importance.

If Facebook is home base online — an address book, of sorts — the other emerging networks are where the real socializing happens for the younger set.

“People want to try out the new and they forget the old sites,” Courtney Witt said.

And what’s hot changes almost as fast as gossip in the high school halls.

There’s ask.fm for posing questions and getting anonymous answers from other users. Kik works like texting, except it’s all done in an app under user names, not phone numbers. Vine and Instagram let users post short video clips. Video sharing giant YouTube is also a place to hang out online.

“Most teenagers go toward what’s popular,” said Claire Witt. “They just move around.”

 

Katie Humphrey • 952-746-3286

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