Has Facebook lost its cool?

Should Facebook investors worry that it's losing the young? Yes. Twitter, Tumblr may benefit from teens’ disaffection.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 1, 2012 10:53AM

By Jon Freidman for MarketWatch

 

Can being on Facebook kill a teenager’s prospects of having a bright career?

Perhaps.MarketWatch

 

Can it make a kid feel uncool? Definitely.

 

A Los Angeles Times piece reached those conclusions, measuring the social-media preferences of the coveted teen demographic.

 

Should Facebook (FB) fret about the Times story and worry that it may be losing its hold on a coveted age group? You bet.

 

In the volatile world of the social media, “product” perception often becomes reality. Remember, it took very little time for Facebook -- Twitter, too -- to become all the rage, overtaking the last generation of hot social media sites.

 

Now, if teenagers begin to drop out of Facebook and move onto the next big thing, look out.

 

Is your future boss on Facebook?

Teenagers “worry that one wrong move on Facebook could hurt their chances of getting to college or landing a job,” according to the L.A. Times

 

I believe it, too. I know of one summer-job applicant who uses an alias on Facebook to maintain some distance from prospective employers on Wall Street.

 

The Times story should send tremors through Facebook’s headquarters, as the suddenly embattled company tries to pick up the pieces following a spate of negative publicity about its initial public offering. Facebook stock fell into the $27 range this week. The IPO was priced at $38 and started trading on May 18.

 

At a time when Mark Zuckerberg’s flashy company is on the defensive over the flop, the last thing the company needs to see is a prominent newspaper questioning its growth.

Madison Avenue may begin to wonder, too, about Facebook’s long-term growth scenario. What if the momentum builds among young people that Tumblr and Twitter are more appealing social-media outlets for them?

 

Consumer product companies try to attract young people to their ranks because this demographic spends lots of dough on the latest gadgets.

 

Career worries are just the tip of the iceberg.

 

Parents should not be 'friends'

Facebook may say it is a victim of its great popularity. As young people first became hooked on it, it was inevitable that their ever-curious parents began to wonder what the hubbub was about.

 

Naturally, the older generation found the same sort of value in the various social media as their kids had. They, too, could use Facebook to find out what new and old friends and family members were up to, learn what people were thinking about movies and restaurants and the like and communicate efficiently by employing Instant Messaging.

 

Horror of horrors! Suddenly, to the kids, Facebook seemed a lot less exclusive -- and not nearly as cool. The teens felt they had lost a lot of the personal power that Facebook had once offered to them -- and, in a very real practical sense, they had forfeited a feeling of privacy.

 

After all, as long as their parents could become their “friends” on Facebook -- or find ways to monitor what their children were writing about themselves -- they had no secrets from their mothers and fathers. Their parents could effectively know what they were thinking, where they were going, and with whom.

 

Rebels aren't on Facebook

What’s the fun of being a teenager at all if you don’t even have the power to rebel against your parents? This kind of phenomenon has happened before.

 

Rock and roll music was once the domain of teenagers, and loving the hottest bands that everyone’s parents hated was a good feeling.

 

Teens in those days blasted their favorite bands on home stereos and secretly delighted in having a sense of empowerment when their parents could only shout helplessly, “Turn that screaming off!” (Yes, I can speak from my experience.) The music was theirs and theirs only.

 

Then, the old guard slowly but surely began to embrace the same kind of music. Even worse, you started hearing the songs being used in television commercials and radio jingles, and teens began thinking that rock and roll was pretty unhip, after all.

 

Eventually, rap and hip-hop -- emerging as new and dangerous forms of youth music -- quickly became the most popular entertainment among the young people.

 

Social media moves at lightning pace. Popular tastes can change overnight.

 

What’s cool today could be old news tomorrow. Rock and roll came and went.

 

Who knows? Facebook could be next.

 

More at MarketWatch.com

 

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