Facebook doesn't bore teenagers

Cliff Watson:

For those of us out of school, Facebook is a place to see the accomplishments of our friends and acquaintances we’ve made over years and decades. We watch their lives: babies, job promotions, vacations, relationships, break-ups, new hair colors, ad nauseum.

For kids who still go to school, Facebook is boring. If one of their friends does something amazing or amazingly dumb, they’ll find out within five minutes. If they’re not friends with that person, it will take 15 minutes.

How? Mobile. And not just texting. In fact, pure cellular texting is only part of the equation. Texting is being supplemented by the products that are making Facebook not just boring, but obsolete: apps. It’s right there in the Piper Jaffray study.

I enjoyed this piece, but I think this part of it is way off the mark. In my opinion this is the same fallacious thinking that Facebook succumbed to, which made their new “Home” thing a bit of a flop.


Facebook Home was flat-out badly designed: it’s designed for optimal input and failed to consider real-world usage.

Both Facebook Home and the article posit an ideal world in which the majority of content shared on Facebook is high quality, original content, uniquely tied to the individuals that post it.

Here’s the thing — speaking as someone young enough to still have a significant number of teenage friends on Facebook — this isn’t what happens. Instead, the news feeds of teenagers are filled with funny pictures with writing on them, youtube videos, marketing campaigns (smart campaigns, that are interesting enough to go viral, if we’re still using that term) and so on.

Sure, there still is unique content, but I think you find that the percentage of self-made content shared increases the older the person gets, probably peaking around the mid-thirties. Most teens are not churning out quality content to share with their friends, simply because, when you’re young, you don’t have the acquired skills to make as much quality content1.

You can’t get the same self-esteem bump from sending a text that you can from getting 50 likes on the meme you posted. The thing that Facebook has going for it right now (despite its purportedly shrinking attraction) is its ubiquity. It’s almost impossible to go somewhere on the web and not be able to share it on Facebook — frequently by clicking a button right there.

Social media isn’t really just about “connecting with friends”, no matter what the marketing departments tell you. It’s a much bigger game than that, and your friends are not the only players.

Facebook still has the biggest numbers, by far, and when you want to curate content for your friends (i.e. repost a cat video) you do it where it’ll hit the most eyeballs.

Even if it seems cooler to tell Piper Jaffray you prefer something else.

  1. In general. I know there are exceptions.