At the ripe old age of 14, Facebook usage is in decline, perhaps in a mid-life crisis of sorts that could benefit LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
A recent study from the research firm eMarketer says young adults are leaving Facebook faster than expected, with its user base among all user groups predicted to shrink by 3.4 percent – or nearly 14.5 million users.
The prediction marks the first time eMarketer has forecast a decline in Facebook usage for any age group. The firm also says it estimates usage among young adults “will grow more slowly than previously forecast.” Overall, the largest social media site saw a decline in usage, from 67 to 62 percent of its American audience, putting the social media platform back to 2015 usage levels.
While the shrinkage is bad news for Facebook, it could be a boon for LinkedIn, as more young adults turn to the business-oriented social media site.
Why is Facebook usage declining?
There are several theories as to why young adults are leaving Facebook, or never even signing up for the social network in the first place. Some in that demographic see it as the social network their parents utilize, therefore making it less “cool” while others say they’re fearful about sharing personal information on the platform. And, some simply don’t see Facebook as being very social.
Three Specific Reasons for the Facebook Decline
But there are at least three different reasons as well for the defections from Facebook, according to digital marketing expert and Convince and Convert CEO, Jay Baer.
- An Increased Distrust of Facebook – 2017 wasn’t an especially great year for Facebook after media coverage of its role (or at least complicity) in the world of “fake news.” Combined with the company’s other stumbles in the areas of privacy and accountability, users of the platform may not fully trust the motives and judgment of those running Facebook and making key decisions.
- Increased Discord on Facebook – In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election in the U.S., there has been a continued polarization of thought in America, and an acceptance that the new normal is a climate of “us” vs. “them.” Users are growing weary of having to defend their opinions to so-called “friends” who may now be part of the “opposition.” Many Facebook users have experienced having a connection who says they’re logging off permanently because of the rampant negativity present on the platform.
- Increased Disinterest in Facebook – Stemming from the first two, the drop also represents a natural shifting of users to other parts of the Facebook ecosystem. While Facebook’s usage declines, Instagram’s usage continues to march upward, as does the number of people consistently using Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. People are finding that Facebook is not the best place to post video, photos and messaging, but apps such as Instagram, SnapChat, WhatsApp and Messenger are.
The Facebook Decline Impact on Business
Businesses deciding where to spend their digital marketing dollars will first have to look at who they’re trying to reach. Those targeting young-adult users may want to think twice before heavily investing their budget in Facebook, even though the social media giant keeps adding more monthly users and its stock value continues to rise.
“While it is important to understand where your audience is, you should be aware what your audience wants and what kind of content they are more likely to engage with,” the eMarketer report says. “For Gen Z and Millennials, it’s visual, and that is just not what Facebook is right now.”
Should Facebook be concerned about this drop in usage? Yes, Baer says, but as long as they are growing their user base across everything they own, they’ll continue to dominate social media, and beyond. The social network still boasts two billion monthly users (far above any other social network) and it also owns Instagram, which remains a strong favorite for Gen Z and Millennial users.
While it is important to understand where your audience is, you should be aware what your audience wants and what kind of content they are more likely to engage with.
The Differences Between Business Usage for LinkedIn and Facebook
Many people divide their marketing usage of Facebook and LinkedIn by who they’re trying to reach: Business to Consumer (B2C) businesses tend to gravitate more toward Facebook, while Business to Business (B2B) users look more to LinkedIn.
LinkedIn interaction is much more business focused and for many they will see a lot more engagement on this platform.
For example, if you post a business-related article on Facebook, you will get very little engagement or view. On LinkedIn, the opposite is true. People are looking to learn, to be educated and enjoy business content, after all it is a business platform.
The professional nature platform is especially effective if users regularly participate in sharing knowledge, asking questions, responding to issues and comments, and posting information or articles that are helpful to their network.
Publishing original, quality content on LinkedIn Publisher helps establish you as an expert in your field.
The real results on LinkedIn tend to come from personal interactions through one’s personal profile. Many businesses struggle to gain much traction on their LinkedIn Company Page unless they have a significant budget for sponsoring posts.
Personally, I don’t see that ever changing as people want to deal with people, not brand logos. At the end of the day, for B2B businesses, results come from building relationships with your prospects, clients and strategic partners.
The decline of Facebook is a golden opportunity for individuals and businesses to step up their usage of LinkedIn as a strategic platform to generate more business. People will always prefer to do business with those they know, like and trust, and LinkedIn is perfect for building relationships with decision makers and others who can benefit from your product or service.
In his book, “Social Selling – Influencing Buyers and Changemakers,” author Tim Hughes encourages social sellers to “find influencers and build a community.”
Hughes highlights the importance identifying the influencers in your field – some of whom are likely to be the changemakers. They may not be celebrities, but they will have an engaged following. As he says, they may be more David than Goliath – but that’s going to make it more possible to build a relationship with them through vehicles such as LinkedIn.
Along those lines, Hughes suggests sharing valuable and authentic content, utilizing the 4:1:1 rule that for every six things you share:
- 4 should be from third party sources (and that can include competitor content)
- 1 should be self-serving – promoting your own products and services
- 1 should show that you are a human – share something fun, inspirational, about your passions
“If all you’re sharing is promotional content, you’re not going to win the sales war with your competitors: The battle for attention is fought through subject matter expertise and thought leadership in a non-promotional format,” he says.
Losing traction on Facebook? Your opportunity to gain traction on LinkedIn.
As I’ve written previously, as far as social networks go, LinkedIn is in a class of its own and is more than twice as effective for lead generation than Facebook or Twitter, actually according to HubSpot, it’s 277% more effective for lead generation.
You’ll also have greater success finding the influencers and changemakers on LinkedIn than you will via Facebook and in a B2B environment, they’ll likely be more willing to connect with you. As you reach out to leaders on LinkedIn there are three simple things you can do to begin expanding your network and generating more leads:
- If someone looks at your profile, check out their profile in return and use that as an opportunity to connect when relevant.
- Don’t send invitations to connect where you talk about yourself because nothing is more off- putting in an introduction than talking about you and your business. Learn to listen first, and understand what people care about before talking about yourself.
- Re-examine your LinkedIn profile. Does it read like it’s written to make you appeal to a recruiter or future employer, or a customer? Make sure your profile is focused on the customer and solving their problems or meeting their needs. Your LinkedIn profile is an essential part of your personal brand and must be client focused in order to get decision makers to be willing to accept your connection request.
LinkedIn is in a class of its own and is more than twice as effective for lead generation than Facebook or Twitter.
LinkedIn is in a class of its own as far as social networks go in its effectiveness for businesses as a lead generation tool. And, with recent studies showing users are abandoning Facebook faster than expected, now may be the time to shift some of your marketing efforts to LinkedIn to connect with decision and change makers that can help your business grow and prosper.