Story by Emma Wilson
Ten years ago, Harvard University sophomore Mark Zuckerburg launched a website called The Facebook meant to connect students in the Ivy League. The site has since expanded across the world connecting over 1.23 billion members.
Though it continues to expand, Facebook’s growth rate has started to slow, especially among younger markets.
“I’m just not interested,” said high school sophomore Madison Merfeld, “My parents, even my grandparents are on Facebook and I’d rather not have them know about everything thing I’m doing all the time.”
Facebook has been replaced for many young people by the advent of new smart phone apps such as SnapChat, which allow for greater privacy.
Facebook doesn’t seem to be phased by the lack of interest of younger users.
“I’m not sure if it is really that big of a deal if younger users are on the site or not,” said Drake University School of Journalism and Mass Communications Assistant Professor Chris Snider. “I don’t see teenagers in the kind of ads and promotions Facebook puts out, so that just makes me think that Facebook doesn’t see that age group as their most crucial audience.”
Facebook may be losing high school aged users, but many start using Facebook when they leave school and move on to university or a gap year.
Oxford, United Kingdom, native Ella Nicol-Harper finished sixth form last year and left the U.K. to travel on a gap year. Shortly after finishing school, Nicol-Harper created a Facebook account to keep her friends and family updated on her travels.
“I joined Facebook when I moved to Germany because it was just so much easier to talk to my family than ringing them on the phone, but now that I’m in Uganda, I’ve started a blog to organize myself a bit more,” Nicol-Harper said, “I’m not sure if I’ll keep up with Facebook when I move back to the U.K. to go to Cambridge but we’ll see.”
Facebook is popular among international students studying in America as well.
Mar Serra-Garau was a Spanish exchange student studying in the U.S.
“I use Facebook now to keep in touch with my friends from America. I think it will help me to keep in touch more long-term than email because I see updates from them everyday,” Serra-Garau said.
Facebook has an edge compared to its competitors because it has figured out how to create an effective mobile site. It also leads in ad integration.
By using native content, Facebook is able to make ads look more natural on the site. “They just had an amazing quarter in terms of mobile revenue. Other people are not monetizing mobile, and Facebook seems to have it figured out,” Snider said. “Facebook is continuing to create innovating content as they mature as a social network.”
In honor of its tenth anniversary, Facebook released a flashback slideshow. The slideshow shows users highlights from the day they created their Facebook account. They also released a new app called Paper in the Apple App Store. Paper has a sleek layout and scrolls horizontally rather than vertically like most other apps.
“I think it’s a smart move on their part to come up with as many experiences they can around all of their information and data they have and that users come up with which one is most beneficial to them,” Snider said.
The app received a five-star rating in the app store. Facebook may be evolving, but the social media giant seems to be sticking around for a little longer.