The Facebook Paradox, Part 1: Winning the Social Media Wars

Last week, renowned market research firm Edison Research revealed the latest social networking usage statistics:


Above, we see that Facebook has effectively won the social media wars. When you pause to think about it, getting 62% of Americans to do anything is impressive. Fewer people than that vote in Presidential elections.

The question marketers have on their minds, especially in B2C, is whether Facebook is cool or not to teens and young adults. Conventional wisdom and repeated memes all say that Facebook isn’t hot among the youth. What’s the real answer?


Whether or not it’s cool, 3 out of 4 Americans age 12-24 are using Facebook, followed by Facebook property Instagram and then Snapchat. This is a far cry from “no one uses Facebook any more”. Just how many people is that? The US Census Bureau estimates the 12-24 population to be approximately 56.5 million Americans. Operating under the belief that Facebook isn’t used any longer by 41.8 million people is a dangerously flawed premise.


If we dig into general usage vs. 12-24 usage, we see above that the 12-24 population is significantly engaged with every social network, except for LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s lack of dominance is logical; 68% of the 12-24 age bracket are age 21 or lower; they are less likely to use a business-focused social network. Visual media dominates the 12-24 landscape.

So, is the lesson to simply produce great content that’s highly visual and publish to Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat? While the above statistics might lead you in that direction, there are other factors to consider. Brand reach is a different story entirely. In Part 2 of the Facebook Paradox, we look at the other side of the Facebook coin and how it continues to throttle organic brand page reach. Stay tuned!

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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Posted on March 9, 2015 in Advertising, Facebook, Marketing, Social Media

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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