Poke, SlingShot, Camera, Moments: The list of Facebook’s not-so-successful apps is fairly long. But that hasn’t prevented Menlo Park from launching LifeStage, an app that apparently has nothing to do with Facebook as we know it. You’d think being the world’s most successful social media platform will be enough for Zuckerberg & Co, but the company is clearly hungry for more.
With LifeStage, Facebook targets a new audience, an audience that appears to be disinterested in Facebook: teens. For LifeStage is a social network meant only for high school students in the US who have an iOS device. Don’t forget Facebook first started out as a photo-sharing platform only for college students in the US, before it morphed into the social media giant we now use daily.
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So what is LifeStage? LifeStage only works for those who are 21 and younger, is all about posting video profiles, and users will interact with others in their school. If you’re 22 or older, you can see your own profile, but not those of others. We’re guessing this is supposed to be one way of dissuading the older audience from latching onto this platform. The app has been conceived by the company’s 19-year old product prodigy Michael Sayman. TechCrunch quotes Sayman as saying, “I went back and looked at Facebook from 2004. At the time, I was in the second grade.”
Of course, the question with LifeStage is going to be: Why? Why now? Why does the world’s most successful social media platform with over 1.7 billion monthly users need another app? Don’t forget a billion users on WhatsApp, another billion using Facebook Messenger, and around 500 million-odd users on Instagram. The answer: a drop in personal sharing and, yes, the rise of Snapchat, which has proven much popular with the younger audience, especially teens in more developed countries.
The exodus of the teenage audience from Facebook has been reported since 2013, and while the social network’s overall numbers are growing, the younger audience has been finding other platforms. For instance, a report by iStrategyLabs in 2014 showed that 13-17-year-olds on Facebook have declined by 25 percent over the last three years for the US, while the 55+ age group has exploded on the platform. More worryingly, there’s now a perception among teens that Facebook is an uncool Owner Business.
In 2015, a report by Forrester Research showed while 78 percent of teens used Facebook, it came seventh in the ‘cool’ list, well below YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, and others. For teens, ‘uncool’ is a word usually reserved for parents and one that no social network wants next to it. Add to that, there’s been a decline in personal sharing, something Facebook itself acknowledges, even if not in so many words.
Reports on The Information and Bloomberg showed total sharing declined 5.5 percent year over year for mid-2015, and overall original broadcast sharing was “down 21 percent year on year”. Facebook admits personal sharing has moved on to apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, which is a problem because original posts are what boost engagement on the website. The reports said the problem was particularly “acute with Facebook users under 30 years of age”.