Facebook has seen a decline in young users & its growth has become stagnant. However, despite challenges, advertisers predict a sunny future. Here's how ad agencies have pivoted their strategy.
Facebook has witnessed many changes in the last few years. Its young users have declined, and revenue has nosedived and picked up. Its parent company Meta has also failed to abide by European Commission's data guidelines time and again.
However, this hasn't stopped advertisers from looking at the brighter side. Indian advertising agencies have revised their plans to make the best use of today's Facebook.
To get a better view of what Indian agencies think about advertising on Facebook and its future, Social Samosa spoke to a few industry experts.
Decline in Young Users
Facebook was once ‘the star’ app for all social media users. Soon newer and shinier apps came and took over the app's place. According to NapoleonCat's recent study on Facebook Users in India, only 8.7% of the total users in India are in the age bracket of 13-17. Another study shows that it is the least popular among women aged 16-24.
Similarly, a study on teens by Pew showed that only 32% of U.S. teens aged 13-17 use the platform. The numbers have declined tragically from 2014-15 when they stood at 71%.
A similar pattern was seen in South Korea as well, where in 2022 a 25% decline in Facebook users was recorded in the country.
Gen-Z, teens, and millennials have shifted their attention towards apps like Instagram and Snapchat. Apart from this major shift, according to research done, due to privacy reasons and increased nudity and other such reasons, the demographic of Indian female users on the app has also declined.
With this exodus of young users, Facebook's revenue has seen major ups and downs. The third quarter report by Facebook’s parent company, Meta indicated a decline in revenue for a second consecutive quarter.
Marketers have started to prioritise platforms like Instagram, OTT, and other digital mediums.
Talking about whether brands have made any shifts or preferences when allocating budget for Facebook marketing, Akansha Vora, Lead Media Strategist, Schbang says, “There has been a significant shift in the way brands are considering budget allocation toward the platform. With the audience now moving on to Instagram, primarily the age bracket of 18-40, there has been a shift from a 60:40 split from Facebook to Instagram to now a 30:70 split.”
Facebook for Gen-X
Although a big chunk of young social media users has moved on from the tech giant to other platforms, a huge crowd of older generations still enjoy their time on Facebook. Marketers have clearly taken note of this and they actively use Facebook to advertise and stay in touch with the older generation and markets beyond Tier I. Many SMBs have also found their core audience on this platform.
Randal Gomes, Business Head, SoCheers says, “There are a lot of brands who still prefer Facebook due to its sheer availability and acceptance amongst mass audiences. The company may have registered a decline in terms of revenue growth and ad-spends but that is largely due to the economic slowdown witnessed last year.”
Further, while Gen Z may have parted ways, Gen X continues to flock to the platform. As per Hootsuite, Facebook is the most popular social media network for men and women aged 35-44. It further says that this demographic is most likely to have been early adopters of Facebook in a post-Myspace world and continued to use and favour the platform as they grew up.
Randal Gomes says, “Facebook may not be the most preferred medium for marketers but it still plays an important role as, probably, a second platform in the marketing mix.” He further points out that while Gen-Z has found its niche in other apps, Gen-X still attracts marketers on Facebook.
Despite all the chatter, Facebook’s Ad models continue to stay strong and thus attract audiences and marketers alike. Facebook has a powerful history of tracking complete online and offline user journeys. This further helps marketers in their advertising plans and thus, making Facebook an integral part of their media planning.
“Facebook remains critical for the marketing mix with its measurability. In a world where ROI is the first question asked at the end of any campaign, Facebook’s tracking mechanism and now conversion API gives advertisers deep insight into measuring campaign impact,” says Sudish Balan, Co-founder & CCO, Tonic Worldwide.
Another USP that attracts advertisers across the globe to Facebook is e-commerce. Shopping is becoming more commonplace on Facebook, with an average of one million people using Facebook Shops on a monthly basis, as per Hootsuite.
The Increasing Importance Of Metaverse
The global Metaverse market in 2022 was valued at US$ 61.8 billion. With the growing demand for this sector, many companies are diverting their businesses towards it. Companies like Mahindra & Mahindra, Tanishq and others have taken baby steps into Metaverse to grow their digital footing.
From the education sector to the gaming sector, India is looking at a swift transition into the Metaverse. Experts think that Facebook's next step should be to explore this sector to its fullest.
To attract more advertisers, Keerthi R Kumar, Business Head- South, FoxyMoron advises the platform to bring in innovations. He further adds, “They could look at VR integrations or the metaverse to bring out a unique feature to make themselves more relevant”
Taking about ways to regain Facebook advertisers, Mitesh Kothari, Co-founder and CCO, White Rivers Media also states how Metaverse can be the platforms’ saviour.
“Businesses can use online communities to create and maintain relationships with the prospective audience. Metaverse can serve as the "digital twin" of real-world objects, processes and operations. This will promote the safe and efficient development of innovative concepts”, he adds.
What Can Change?
Facebook has been at the forefront of chatter for various reasons. One of them being aggressive terms and conditions and issues with its data privacy. In the past, mass users have opted to abandon the platform for this exact reason and advertisers seem to have taken note of this.
Speaking on how Facebook advertisers can be wooed again, Akhil Nair, CEO, Big Trunk Communications says, “The two major aspects that could help drive advertisers back to Facebook are first, terms and conditions flexibility - help in doing business more easily and can attract potential advertisers. Second, lesser bots & more active users - assists in simulating the traffic organically which can lead to making actual human purchasing or contribute to the company’s revenue.”
Meta has been taking some steps to make it a better place. Facebook's recent data report shows that bullying and harassment on the platform is in decline. The proactive rate of bullying and harassment decreased from 76.7% in Q2 2022 to 67.8% in Q3 2022 due to updates made to its detection technology.
Facebook also needs to be an innovator to make it an attractive place for young users.
Time and again Facebook has proved to evolve with the changing user experience and consumer behaviour. Traditionally a medium to connect with people around the globe, over the years, Facebook has seen major updates. However, Facebook hasn’t had a first-mover advantage here, it has largely followed the changing landscape.
Snapchat was the first platform to introduce Stories. YouTube launched a 360-degree photo and TikTok revolutionized the entire social media industry with the launch of short format videos. Now, all these formats are available on Facebook.
"When was the last time Facebook was the first to bring in a feature rather than scrambling to borrow from the TikTok and Snapchat of the world? That is what they need to do- innovate! They could look at VR integrations or the metaverse to bring out a unique feature to make themselves more relevant," said R Kumar.
Although from a wider lens, Facebook for marketers looks like a sinking ship, experts still think this ship can be salvaged. With the platform catching up to its competitors, finding a newer audience (older generation), and creating a niche platform for them, it looks like the original social media platform still stands a chance.