This question has been bubbling below the surface for some time now, and a new report via researcher eMarketer this week suggests just that. Facebook is fast becoming the go-to channel for targeting older audiences – 500,000 over 55s are expected to join the social media network in 2018.

As the new channel on the block back in 2004, Facebooked captured the hearts and minds of young people online. But as more parents and grandparents joined to keep an eye on their children and decided to stick around, Facebook lost its allure for millennials.

According to eMarketer, 2 million people under 25 will stop regularly signing on to Facebook this year, as teens and young adults switch to Instagram and Snapchat for their social media fix. And while Zuckerberg’s algorithm announcement this January may help to combat the problem of passive consumption, this cultural shift cannot be ignored; young people don’t want to hang out where their parents are. ‘Meaningful connections’ with friends and family is not what young people want.

According to YouGov (2017) 1 in 4 British adults trust social media platforms with their data, compared to just 1 in 20 of their parents’ generation. The public nature of Twitter and Instagram is enticing younger people away from the largely private family network that Facebook encourages – one where your great aunt, your grandmother and your second cousin twice removed are the likely suspects of each like, comment and share.

Will Facebook keep its Number One spot?

Facebook remains the biggest social media giant out there – with 14 years of optimisation behind it and ever smarter algorithms, Facebook is quick to learn what its audience wants. Though over 55s are expected to contribute the largest growth to the network this year, 16- to 34-year-olds remain the biggest demographic.

Such data suggests that young people aren’t abandoning the site, but using it in a different way. While Zuckerberg’s plans to improve the user experience may reduce the quantity of time spent on Facebook, it’s hoped that algorithm changes will increase the quality of the time spent there.

Users are expected to take a more active interest in their newsfeed and engage with the content which really connects with them, curtailing endless and passive scrolling habits which benefit neither the consumer nor the brand – and this is the key to those looking to make the most of Facebook’s extensive targeting capabilities.

Defining and targeting your high value audiences

Using Four’s proprietary methodology, Mapper360™, we build actionable personas and audience sets crafted specifically for social media targeting, based on realtime, robust data – what people are talking about online, what content they connect with and most importantly, where and when they’re digitally active.

Shortlisted by The Drum’s Social Buzz Awards for the most innovative use of social media, we used smarter insights to craft a creative campaign for a contraceptive product. By targeting relevant millennial women on Facebook aimed at breaking taboos and stereotypes and removing emotional barriers to purchase, we launched a campaign page to start conversations and empower women to speak up. Through a targeted approached based on the analysis of 100,000s active millennial social media users, we reached 5.8 million relevant women and grew a Facebook following +5,600 in the first four months.

One size won’t fit all

One thing has become evident as the social media landscape and algorithm evolves; a blanket digital strategy which broadly targets by demographics will not provide the best return.

Facebook is most definitely not redundant when it comes to connecting with teens and young people; it’s brands who understand how to implement a multi-channel approach to targeting, underpinned by carefully curated content which adheres to the specific interests, motivations and influences of these diverse social “tribes”, who will win through.

For more information on how Four Engage help you refine your channel strategies according to your target audiences, email info@fourengage.com.