Has Facebook Jumped the Shark?

A week ago, Michael Miller, president of NavPress, wrote a post on the aging of Facebook in which he highlighted 3 stats from insidefacebook.com:

  • The number of new users ages 35 and older in the last 60 days has doubled.
  • Women 55 years of age and over are the the fastest growing segment at 1.5 million and counting!
  • Today more FB users are 26 – 44 years of age than 18 – 25 year olds.

Miller drew a valid and important conclusion: FB in particular and social networking in general is growing as a vital tool for adults. My conclusion was slightly different. Facebook has jumped the shark. I’m pretty surprised myself, and nobody at the church where I served believed me when I mentioned this, but this post from Tim Schmoyer reinforced what I was thinking.

When I first arrived at this church a year and half ago, my wife and I were about the only ones on FB, and that because we had been doing college ministry up to that point. Now, it seems like nearly everyone in the church is on facebook, only very few of the friend requests I receive come from those in the typical college (18-25) demographic. That could be partly because I’m already friends with them on FB, but it goes beyond that. It’s because FB is decreasing in importance to them.

Facebook started as an exclusive group – first, just at Harvard (where the founder attended) and then only college students around the country (you had to have a .edu email address to join). Eventually, they opened up the platform to anyone and everyone, spurring unprecedented growth, but taking away the exclusivity of it being only college students.

In Purple Cow, Godin states that, after a while, even a purple cow no longer seems all that noteworthy. At the point the masses joined in on FB, the early adopter college students were reaching the tipping point and heading somewhere else.

So, I come back to the question that I asked my colleagues at the church that day: What’s next? Where are the college students headed next? And, if they are headed off FB to somewhere else, how can the church be on the leading edge, rather than following behind to capture the power of that new platform?

Interact: Ok, so what is next? And how can the church capitalize on it?

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5 Responses

  1. I think that the loss of exclusivity is a good thing in a way. Even though my students use other social networking media, they are all still plugged into Facebook (and upset that I refuse to add them as friends). It is like a worn out old shoe. It may not be the hot ticket, but it’s comfortable and easy to come back to at the end of the day.

    • That’s fine and all, but even that description of facebook as a worn out old shoe is different than a year ago. 1 year ago, it was the hot ticket – facebook was on top of the world. Now, twitter seems to be the objection of media love and the place young professionals are. But is it where the college students are headed, not sure.

  2. The main reason to me that Facebook has jumped the shark is the fact our mothers, aunts, uncles and granparents are on it now. No matter who you are, most people are one way around your parents and one way around your friends. Now, there is no more virtual wall between the two worlds in most people’s online Facebook personas. And therefore, opening up Facebook to everyone has reduced Facebook’s appeal for a lot of the main users.

    • Basically, you are saying it’s the Worlds Collide Theory from Seinfeld – Independent George and Relationship George – he knew that he was two different people in those two different and n’er the two shall meet.

      I would generally agree with that assessment, though that’s not even the issue to me. The issue is that with parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents on FB, college students will go somewhere else. So what I’m really concerned with is, where will they go?

  3. Interact: Ok, so what is next? And how can the church capitalize on it?

    Not sure yet.

    But what does it matter? If our church and the larger denomination does not have any ministry or strategic goal of ministering to the college aged (and I would also include single people in this) then why would we or should we care about what social media they use?

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