Facebook to Teens: “See you again in a few years”

Facebook to a teen these days is like a landline telephone to a grandparent; its novelty has worn off, but its function still serves a very distinct need to communicate with the masses. And as grandma is on Facebook more and more, teens are on Facebook less and less. Duh. My bet? Teens will be back.

It’s fun to listen to all the hype and speculation about teens abandoning Facebook in masses; as if Facebook must instantly shift its strategy or else… I believe the issue is real, but I believe it’s short lived. It’s hard to believe that teens seeking places to communicate outside of Facebook is such a big surprise to anyone.

Consider that first, there are no shortages of other social options to explore, nearly all of which are void of parental knowledge and supervision. Secondly, most teens don’t want to hang out where their parents hang out, IRL or online. Regardless, they will return, and their return will be natural and necessary.

Why? Facebook is a utility. It’s the common denominator for everyone 16-60+ and includes friends, family & co-workers as well as content specific to one’s deepest interests. Todd Wasserman from Mashable nailed it when he defined Facebook as a teen’s LinkedIn. Sure, teens will migrate to Snapchat, Instagram, WeChat, Vine and Blend. That’s natural behavior for teens as they seek alternatives to fit in and escape supervision. To anyone paying attention, it’s obvious that teen engagement and frequency on Facebook will diminish during this time.

However, teens grow up and mature (in theory), and need to communicate with the larger world, the majority of whom are tethered to Facebook. As teens mature, they’ll need to communicate where their family communicates; where their friends remain in touch; where they’ll get reunion invites, wedding photos, engagement announcements, etc. As the scope of their lives expands, they’ll engage once again, possibly with even more frequency then before.

And by then one can only assume Facebook will have innovated too. They’ve shown that they are not afraid to take chances and are committed to evolving and taking steps to innovate toward their audience rather than passively enjoying their existence (see Blackberry), they’ve amassed an incredible Global base in a very short time, they’ve given every indication they will not get caught behind like they did with mobile, and, well, they are Facebook and by that I mean they are smart.

So teens will return and Facebook will welcome them as if they’ve never left, because truth is they haven’t, they are just spending time somewhere else, for now, kind of like going away to college.