Enrollment Blog

Is there really a teen exodus from Facebook?

by Emily Bauer

Growing numbers of enrollment leaders are asking me, “Why is Facebook still a part of your marketing strategy? Aren’t fewer and fewer teens using it now?”

It's true that the popularity of Facebook has diminished this year and Snapchat has surpassed it as teens’ favorite social media outlet. But that doesn't mean that teens are fleeing from Facebook. A recent survey by USB Evidence Lab indicates that teens' daily usage is higher for Facebook than other social networks, including Instagram and even Snapchat, and that the number of teen daily users has grown from 59% last year to 65% in 2017.

It seems that teens turn to Snapchat almost exclusively to interact with their friends and increasingly depend on Facebook for information—including content from colleges.

EAB | Royall & Company’s data suggests that Facebook is a better bet for schools' marketing. It still encapsulates a vast audience of college-bound students (68% in a recent EAB | Royall & Company survey) and is a strong source of college information.

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Less cool, more college

Fifty-four percent of teens report that they are “constantly” on a digital device. This means that many of their parents are “constantly” trying to keep up with what they are doing there, some joining the ranks of their kid’s Facebook contacts, “friending” their way into their teen’s online ecosystem.

I believe that when parents infiltrated Facebook, its cool quotient suffered. And perhaps Facebook’s loss of a little cool fostered its rise as a source of meaningful college content.

EAB | Royall & Company's research and program data reveals that Facebook is becoming a network that students rely on for college research. Thirteen percent of students have connected to a school on Facebook, whereas only 5% have done so on Snapchat. Facebook is also a strong venue for college videos. Twenty-five percent of students have watched a school video on Facebook, second only to YouTube (46%), and well ahead of Snapchat (9%).

These numbers make good sense when we look at them in the broader context of the evolution of information technology. Facebook has become to teens what Google is for most middle-aged adults: a source of rich information, like a digital encyclopedia or a newspaper that can ride around in a backpack—a great place for college information to be.

I realize that there may come a day when teens turn completely away from Facebook and we will have to adjust our marketing playbook. But that day is not yet here. No other network can match Facebook as a cost-effective conduit of educational information for nearly 70% of high school students.

To be sure, Facebook will have to continue to redefine its position and relevance in the increasingly complex social media world. For now, though, Facebook is still your enrollment marketing friend.

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