I have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but I can effectively say that I personally know and speak to only a handful of those individuals on a daily or even regular basis. This isn’t because I don’t care; it’s just that, as our lives get busier and busier, our friend group tends to dwindle while simultaneously expanding. Most of my friends are out of college and working full-time. We just don’t have time to scatter our attention all over the place. What happens is a sort of concentrated social experience that is distilled down to those I interact with frequently rather than a larger network of acquaintances; friendships tend to have more of a purpose.
Facebook, the consummate (and perhaps first true) social network, has caught on to this trend. On Tuesday, Facebook released its new Groups App for iOS and Android. Shirley Sun, Facebook Product Manager, released a statement on Facebook’s newsroom site:
Today, we’re introducing a new Facebook Groups app that helps people share faster and more easily with all the groups in their life. We built this app with the people who use Groups the most in mind, like:
Students from Donda’s House, an arts nonprofit in Chicago, who use groups to stay in touch during and after a 12-week music program
A class of dental students in Brazil who use a group to post notes and reminders about upcoming tests and due dates
Nine best friends spread out across Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and England who use a group to keep connected
The app is everything you want out of a more personalized social experience. You can create a group using the six templates (Work, Family, Close Friends, Class, Teammates, Neighbors, For Sale) or create a custom one of your own. You also get to select which notifications you want to see within that group. In addition, the app has a Discover tab that suggests groups based on what you’ve liked, where you live, and what groups your friends are in.
Like any good business, Facebook is evolving to its changing landscape. With the app, the site is catering to its older crowd and acknowledging the role it plays in business relations. In a recent report by Business Insider, Facebook’s demographics remain fairly stable, yet its significance is waning:
Facebook remains the top social network for U.S. teens. Nearly half of teen Facebook users say they're using the site more than last year, and Facebook has more daily teen users than any other social network.
That said, Instagram has edged out Facebook and Twitter in terms of prestige among young users. U.S. teens now describe Instagram as "most important," while Facebook and Twitter lost ground on this measure, according to Piper Jaffray's twice yearly teen survey. The survey also found that 83% of U.S. teens in wealthy households were on Instagram.
International Business Times also reported that Facebook is aging:
According to the2014 Facebook Demographic Report, which iStrategyLabs made using data from Facebook’s Social Advertising platform, 3.3 million American users ages 13 to 17 years old have left Facebook since 2011, as well as another 3.4 million people who are 18 to 24.
In the same period, users in older age groups have grown quickly. Facebook added 10.8 million adults in the 25 to 34 demographic, a growth of 32.6 percent. In the 35 to 54-year-old demographic, Facebook experienced a 41.4 percent growth, adding 16.4 million new users.
The biggest growth came among adults over the age of 55. Facebook added 12.4 million new users from this age range, a massive 80.4 percent growth.
The move towards developing apps to supplement the Facebook experience while simultaneously creating a more focused experience points towards new trends in user needs, including need for mobility, use across all devices, and a more personalized experience. It seems that while Facebook began its takeover of the Internet by dictating how people interact, the dictator has become the worker.