By Elizabeth Friedland, Senior Digital Account Strategist
Facebook’s decision last week to allow minors to post publicly is doing more than making parents cringe, it’s making marketers rejoice — and entrepreneurial teens’ eyes widen with possibility.
The reasoning behind Facebook’s change of heart is obvious; the site has been losing the Internet popularity contest with teens as they flock to more open and arguably richer social networks such as Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. What was once the exclusive playground of young adults is now being overrun with photos of babies and crock pot successes. Facebook seemed to have no choice but to throw open the doors to teens.
As a result, marketers are now able to access an enormous amount of data from the minors that decide to share their posts publicly. It’s true that there have been workarounds in the past that have allowed some of this data gold to be available to advertisers (if one teen authorized a third party app, for instance). But now it’s open season — no sneaky third party app permissions required. Advertisers can mine this data for insight on how to best reach this key market and snatch up their hard earned babysitting money. This translates into $208.7 billion in spending power annually, according to a Maketingvox/Rand Youth study. Further, consumers who get “hooked” on a product or service at a young age generally continue to be loyal to that brand for decades to come. Advertising to teens with increased accuracy, thanks to Facebook’s latest move, means both short and long term profits for marketers.
But it’s not a one-way street; teens can also reach marketers, presenting themselves as a valuable commodity. While kids aged 13-17 have always been able to position themselves as (public) Internet celebrities through Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and so on, the final wall has been torn down — and though popularity of Facebook is sagging, you can’t roll your eyes at the site’s 1.15 billion user audience.
With so many young adults turning their personal tweets, blogs and videos into real value and veritable careers, Facebook was the last remaining hurdle to be cleared. While users are indeed Facebook’s product, time will tell if savvy teens can use the platform to launch their own personal and professional brands.