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Facebook has been losing its hold on young adults aged 18 to 29, but it has a plan to win them back.
“Historically, young adults have been a strong base and that’s important because they are the future,” Mark Zuckerberg told investors during Facebook’s Q3 earnings call this October. “But over the last decade … our services have gotten dialed to be best for the most people who use them rather than specifically for young adults.”
To prevent losing the demographic even further, Zuckerberg refocused Facebook’s (and now, Meta’s) teams on young adults as their new “North Star.”
But even before Zuckerberg’s earnings call comments in October, redirecting the company towards that new North Star had been in the works for months as Facebook set out to research, analyze, and figure out ways forward, according to documents contained in the Facebook Papers leak.
One potential opportunity to captivate those young adults was creators.
Young adults “gravitate toward public figures and emerging creators,” according to a May presentation shared to Facebook staffers by a team named FAST UX Research. “But those creators and fandoms are off-platform.”
These public figures and creators “lack a reason to be on FB,” the presentation concluded.
The presentation, titled “FAST x Young Adults: Key YA insights + opportunities,” was included in the disclosures made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form by Frances Haugen’s legal counsel. A consortium of news organizations, including Insider, obtained the redacted versions received by Congress.
Here are several takeaways from the report about how young adults use social media and where creators fit into how they view Facebook:
Instagram provided background information about its internal research processes, but declined to provide Insider with an on-the-record statement regarding the leaked presentation.
Read through 11 slides from the leaked presentation here, selected and viewed by Insider:
FAST x Young Adults: Key YA insights + opportunities
H2’21 planning, US-focus
In a Facebook Workplace post sharing the presentation, an unnamed staffer (whose name was redacted) wrote the following:
The FAST UX Research parsed existing research on Young Adult motivations, pain points, and product opportunities to bring out the most salient learnings for FAST Products.
Thank you to all the amazing researchers across FB and IG for generating so many great insights. And a big #thanks to [REDACTED] for all your help pulling together this synthesis!
YAs are comfortable using a wide variety of apps, and are purposeful with each. FB’s super-app approach can make our value prop less clear.
YAs gravitate toward public figures and emerging creators, but those creators and fandoms are off-platform. PF [public figures] and Creators lack a reason to be on FB.
YAs are visual-first and want to see more culturally relevant, uplifting content on FB. YA also enjoy participation around culturally relevant topics/moments.
YA crave intimate interest-based communities & expect to see targeted interest-based content on FB FB also has brand permission around interest uses cases and verticals.
More clear value props: Be intentional about designing clear value props and identities for our products. Give YAs a clear reason to be on each surface.
Build creator-centric partnerships to harness power of their content Develop comprehensive content ecosystem ensuring that consumption is customized at user level.
Continue building engaging video creation experiences (Reels, templates, effects) and explore opportunities for collaboration with culturally relevant topics.
Invest in the interest space by leveraging Contextual Profiles to integrate interested-based sharing across feed and stories, explore cross-posting from 16 to drive interest content, and increase our understanding and granularity of interest content.
[Notes below the slide]
Create a Signature Feature/Exclusive content only for FB — Offer something different than other platforms — a creative tool or feature (e.g. a cool new filter or effect, better or more music choices, etc.)
Market The Reach — Help creators understand if they create and share Reels on FB, they will reach a new and broader audience (an audience they often cannot reach on other SFV platforms)
YA grew up with social media apps and are purposeful in how they use it
They rely on a constellation of social media apps to help them get what they need to navigate a typical day
8AM Catch up on useful pop culture & news: Twitter provides [redacted] with important cultural references and jokes to communicate with her friends.
11AM Get guidance on how to improve work performance: Uses Slack to get advice from colleagues.
5PM Time for social causes: Uses IG Stories to learn about organizations to give to and volunteer at and places to protest.
6PM Prioritizing health: [redacted] checks in on her Peloton FB Group to learn tricks and tps, and to touch base with others as they work toward their goals.
8PM Time for interests: Recently, She’s started using TikTok to get interesting snippets about fashion and therapy quickly.
9PM Planning ahead: A few times a week [redacted] will dedicate time to learning how to financial plan for the future on Reddit.
YA use single apps for specific, strategic purposes and find the most value from apps that help them learn and grow
Get the Latest
Twitter to catch up on news and jokes
Instagram for more polished pop culture & personalities
TikTok to see what’s viral
Connect with Others
Instagram Stories to see what my friends are up to
Snapchat where friends can be light and free
Discord to deep dive into interests
LinkedIn to network
Learn & Grow
YouTube to deep dive into interests from trusted personalities
Reddit to learn from firsthand experiences
Twitch to learn directly from role models & peers
YA spend less time on FB and produce / engage less on Feed but produce and consume more Stories
YA struggle to identify the primary value prop for FB • YA don’t find FB’s “super app strategy” appealing
“FB has a feature for literally everything, but yet it doesn’t really feel like it is for anything. I honestly don’t know what it’s for anymore.” – [REDACTED], 18
Content, brand perception, and lack of clear value props are the top barriers for YA
YA are predominant consumers of culturally relevant content that’s meme-abile [sic] and authentic, and SFV are a good format for this type of content
How might we drive culturally relevant content on FB?
All Young Adults (18-29) | Products ranked from most to least important
Q: “Which of the following is MOST and LEAST important to you to have on Facebook?”
Instead, investing in non-traditional PF represents an opportunity for cultural relevance and fan communities
But first, we need to incentivize Creators & Public Figures to use FB
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