Is it possible that Facebook is getting ready to abandon the teen market to concentrate on the 18-49 demographic that is so important to advertisers? That could be one conclusion from last week’s announcement that Facebook is making yet another change to the layout of the site, this time impacting the home page, or News Feed, as it is often called.
This follows suggestions that Facebook is already losing its allure for many teens, as they shift to Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and other social platforms.
Most people’s News Feeds are currently a jumble of the latest status updates, likes, photos and comments from those you're most interested in — or rather the people that Facebook thinks you're most interested in. That’s because Facebook constantly tracks the updates and comments that you actually look at, and reorders and reprioritizes content based on what they think you want to see.
Going forward, Facebook is going to give users access to additional streams, so you can see content based on topic rather than who it came from. For example, if you are interested in music, then you will be able to set up a dedicated stream for music content. Interested in cats? Then you can have a dedicated cat stream. You can even set up a stream for certain friends’ content, which will then appear unfiltered in strict chronological order.
The idea behind the dedicated streams is to present more of a magazine-style format, where users can drill down to the content they want. The more Facebook can organize its vast treasure trove of content, the more it can extend engagement. And the longer people spend on the site, the happier marketers will be.
But it also suggests the social media site is starting to reshape itself for the future; a future where it concentrates on the needs of adults and businesses, rather than non-wage-earning minors. And that may reflect an uncomfortable truth: with so many moms and dads clogging up its pages, Facebook is no longer the cool place to hang out for under-18s.
If my own teens are anything to go by, the latest information is being shared elsewhere, and Facebook chats are a thing of the past. There are dedicated streams from your friends onTwitter, and images galore on Instagram.
It is possible that in a social media environment where being new is fifty percent of the battle, Facebook is starting to feel a little old? It feels like Facebook is at a crossroads, no longer the young, hip social network but instead a news portal, an entertainment channel, a photo gallery, and most importantly, an ad network.
Facebook is clearly searching for a new identity; it will be interesting to see how many of the younger users come along for the ride.
This post is part of a series on the dilemmas of raising digital kids. We'd like to hear some of the parenting issues technology has raised for you. Please let us know in the comments, or on ourMashable Lifestyle Facebook page.