Teens Fleeing from Facebook

teens on mobile phones

Digital expert looks into the trend, sees opportunity for mobile messaging apps.

Facebook made a rather staggering confession during its Q3 earnings call recently. David Ebersman, Facebook’s chief financial officer said, “We did see a decrease in daily users specifically among younger teens. We wanted to share this with you now because we get a lot of questions about it.”

To a certain extent, the exodus may have been brought about by moms, dads, titos (uncles) and titas (aunts) invading Facebook walls of teenagers and generally – bursting their personal digital bubbles.

A Facebook country like the Philippines may not have been safe from all this diaspora. So, what are teens up to these days?

If you are on a smart phone, and probably wouldn’t want to broadcast the daily happenings of your life to everyone in your feed, then you must be in one of the many messaging apps out there, according to a recent report from The Guardian.

As social media users are clearly growing tired of their conversations being publicly displayed, various private communication services are starting to take over. Pioneering this trend are fun mobile messaging services like KakaoTalk and WeChat that are giving birth to a new global trend of messaging platformization. The mobile messaging service, which is used by 97% of the smartphone population in Korea, has not only become the single largest social network of record in its home country, but has leveraged this social network and traffic to build a platform atop its messaging service. The model has inspired other players around the globe to follow suit, and in markets like Japan and China, the industry is witnessing phenomenal growth of services of similar models such as WeChat and Viber.

The fun, social yet private services are now expanding aggressively outside of their respective territory into social-savvy markets like the Philippines, and are rising to become some of the hottest apps out on market. The question at hand is this; “How soon will the Philippines be able to enjoy the full benefits of a mobile messaging platform?”

“The market’s adoption of messaging apps like KakaoTalk, Whatsapp, Viber is being driven by the combination of ease of use, convenience, privacy, and unique messaging options such as gaming and emoticons/stickers – overall heightening one’s mobile communications experience,” says Don Anderson, SVP and Director of Regional Strategic Digital Integration for Asia Pacific of FleishmanHillard, a leading global communications agency of the Omnicom Group.

He adds, “It’s also hard to overlook the cost effectiveness that these apps provide for maintaining real-time conversations over traditional, SMS-based interactions.”

While Facebook may be approaching the crossroads of relevancy, particularly among teenagers, it is far from being the next Friendster or Myspace.

“Facebook still has its place in social media as a one-to-many platform, but Facebook’s future dominance will continue to be questioned as more disruptive, mobile-enabled one-to-one communications technologies enter the picture, and the experiences provided by those technologies are diversified,” explains Anderson.

Inevitably, messaging apps will become another touch point, and possible a crucial one for mobile transactions.

Anderson identifies Xiaomi, a Chinese handset manufacturer, as already beginning to experiment with messaging apps as platforms for direct sales, and consumers should expect more brands to follow.

“Messaging apps will reach certain ubiquity, and put further pressure on existing ‘old school’ social networks,” Anderson concludes.

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