Who’s Really Turning Their Backs on Facebook

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The media has been drumming up a frenzy about Facebook privacy, and reports of cancelled accounts are seemingly everywhere.

But so far, the fallout is difficult to quantify, and Facebook is still reporting gains.  In fact, the world’s largest network is expected to hit the 500 million user mark by mid-July.

But well before the privacy hubbub, researchers have been talking about a much different type of attrition.  So who’s really turning their backs on Facebook?

Actually, younger users – college-aged and well below – have been slumping or disengaging, while older users – like 35-54 year-olds – have been sharply gaining.  That was recently echoed by Bridge Ratings, which zeroed in on a number of different networking demographics.  The will serve as a starting point for a NARM webinar on July 15th (stay tuned for free passes for Digital Music News readers).

Take, for example, younger girls.  “This group of young people are turning their backs on sites such as Facebook and MySpace,” the report noted.  Instead, sites like Club Penguin, Poptropica and Stardoll are doing far better with the 6-17 female population, though this is part of  a much bigger demographic trend. “Laser-focused product messaging keyed to the lifestyle of the target is critical,” the group continued.

The bigger takeaway is critical for music marketers and bands to understand.  Sure, skipping Facebook or MySpace would be unwise, but different bands attract wildly different demographics, and that makes targeting a critical skill on social networks.  A nuanced understanding of the different players – beyond the typical heavyweights – is key.

Across the board, brands are increasingly turning towards social networking for marketing results.  Unsurprisingly, Bridge noted that networking bands experienced higher and more consistent downloads rates (and the ‘buy’ link can be towards an artist-hosted download, instead of iTunes or AmazonMP3).  But radio broadcasters across medium and large markets also experienced considerable gains in listening sessions, at least according to a Bridge study of 22 stations.  The measured session boost was 75 percent, while internet radio pure-plays jump-started sessions by 20 percent.

More ahead…