Earlier this year, I read The Signal and The Noise by forecaster Nate Silver, who explains via examples of politics, weather, poker and baseball, how we can make better predictions about our own lives by identifying trends and patterns, rather than being distracted by irrelevant opinion or commentary.
I was reminded of this book earlier in the week when a report by the Global Social Media Impact Study was published, claiming that Facebook was ‘dead and buried’ as young people were turning off in ‘droves’ for cooler platforms like SnapChat, Instagram, and Whatsapp. Now, death of Facebook stories have been doing the rounds since the beginning of Facebook. What is true is that there are over a billion active Facebook users and over 680 million mobile users (Source – Statistic Brain). Hardly a platform that is dying.
Ok, clearly there is an increase in usage of new platforms like the above, however the article loses all credibility by using a word like ‘droves’. I want numbers! Seriously, how many is a drove? 100? 1000?
Now, you can use statistics to prove anything but if you want to get your study published by the BBC and reblogged about by Rory Cellan-Jones just choose a popular target, say that the target demograph is going off the platform whatever reason, and attention galore to your study. Call me cynical if you wish, but the week before/ after Christmas is generally a slow news week as business and government slow down, which means you can generate a lot more noise for your story. Journalists love nothing more than a story that writes itself eh?
I can see why kids might turn off Facebook. I know many parents that are on Facebook solely to monitor their children online. Sorry to break this to you parents, but teenagers will find new ways to rebel and will look for new platforms to engage and communicate with whomever they want.
One thing I found interesting about the study is that the three networks apparently appealing to kids are an alternative to Facebook. They’re not. They may be threats to other forms of communication but they are not a direct threat to Facebook. One of the networks, Instagram, is even owned by Facebook, further detracting credibility from the article. Whatsapp is a threat to text messaging – just look at the impact of it upon mobile operators in the Netherlands.
What I think is really happening is that people are embracing new forms of social media, but integrated within other platforms, and communicating between different audiences. Just look at the below screenshot from my phone. You can see that I embrace a few social channels and I communicate to different audiences via each platform. Now, maybe social media dash boarding may become the way forward, but for the time being, people will always take up a new communication platform if it’s cool, and their friends are on it. Age has nothing to do with it. One thing that is for sure… Facebook is not ‘dead and buried’. That’s not noise.