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Is Messenger Kids the future of Facebook?

If you were looking to target the next generation - generation Alpha - which social platforms would you choose? Snapchat? Definitely. Instagram? Absolutely. Tik Tok? Obviously. Yes, I know all about age restrictions on social media, but I also know that kids love to bend the rules.

But what about Facebook?

For a couple of years now, Facebook has been suffering a pretty significant slump among teenagers. The young people that once made Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook such a huge success are now their biggest problem. TechCrunch went as far to ask, “Is Facebook dead to Gen Z?” And they’re not wrong.

There are now more Facebook users over the age of 65 than there are teenage users in the UK; 13-17 year olds make up the smallest age bracket on the platform at just 6.6%. There are even more 35-54 year olds on the platform than 18-24 year olds.

This is obviously a big platform for the social media giant.

However, after noticing the trend and the impact it was having, Zuckerberg did what any good business leader does. He planned ahead. He put a long-term strategy in place; not a quick fix, but a plan to target the next generation of social media users before they’re even old enough to set up an account.

Enter Messenger Kids.

Launched in December 2017, the app, as its name suggests, is a child-friendly version of Facebook’s Messenger platform. The video chat and messaging platform “helps kids connect with friends and family in a fun, parent-controlled space.”

Messenger Kids had a bit of a bumpy start in life; the day after it’s release, politician Jeremy Hunt slammed the app for targeting underage users with a tweet that read, “Stay away from my kids please Facebook and act responsibly!” A month later, child health advocacy group CCFC penned an open letter to Facebook, asking Mark Zuckerberg to shut down the app over concerns about excessive use of social media and its ability to undermine children’s healthy development.

But three years later, Messenger Kids lives on. It has been rolled out to countries across the world and its features are growing. Facebook is powering through with its platform, and when you think about it, it’s a very smart move.

By creating a simple platform designed for children as young as six years old, Facebook has created something unique - something that no other social media platform has done. They have offered kids a taste of social media. It’s a teaser essentially, and like all good teasers, it leaves you wanting more.

Gen Zers aren’t even creating Facebook accounts, but when it comes to Gen Alpha, Facebook is setting them up to become lifelong users. Why wouldn’t you create a full account for a platform you’ve essentially been using for up to seven years?

So, what’s the takeaway for you, as an employer?

Don’t be too quick to dismiss Facebook in your social media strategy. Yes, Messenger Kids is in its infancy (excuse the pun), but it could make a significant difference to Facebook’s audience over the next couple of years.

Facebook has its place when it comes to long-term planning. Right now, your focus is on the likes of Snapchat and Tik Tok, but Facebook didn’t become the largest social media platform in the world for nothing. If they are successful in converting Generation Alpha into full users and account holders, their data will be much richer than any other platform, which will ultimately help organisations in targeting higher quality audiences with the right content.

Messenger Kids is allowing them to learn more about Generation Alpha than any other platform. They’re collecting data on how children interact, engage and discuss their interests. They might not be using this data to push ads, but Facebook is learning about the way they think. And no doubt they will use this to improve Facebook in the months and years to come.

Facebook is gearing up to grow it’s newest audience in a big way. Are you ready?

Want to talk more about how you can reach with Generation Alpha? Let’s chat. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

Don’t be too quick to dismiss Facebook in your social media strategy.