I’ve often wondered if we are all wrong about Facebook.
I don’t mean the part where we question the data security practices, since we’re definitely right about that. We also question business models that rely on selling us products rather than making compelling products.
Many times, the water cooler conversations around who uses this platform are incorrect. It’s easy to believe that Gen Z, as well as other age groups, have moved to TikTok and Snapchat. I’ve heard from readers and even colleagues who say Facebook is a dinosaur.
Many of the reports I’ve seen about the user demographics on Facebook tell a different story. According to a report last summer, all age groups are using Facebook in roughly the same way. The global age distribution is more youthful, with the majority of users between 18 and 24 years old. Perhaps we are seeing an older generation choosing Facebook as their preferred app over others, while young adults continue to use it.
And then there’s this quick, throwaway comment from Mark Cuban in a recent podcast. Shark Tank host Mark Cuban mentioned that he was amazed at how many people are joining Facebook groups. That’s a brilliant observation, and one that matches up with not only the stats above but my own experiences with this age group.
Gen Z enjoys learning. They are often extremely proficient at their smartphones and are some of the most intelligent people in the world. Phones are seen as an open door to unknown possibilities. Gen Z will answer any question and engage in conversation. They seek truth. In mentoring students at a college, I found they were far less likely to accept something at face value or to follow a hunch or an assumption, which doesn’t make sense when you can Google it.
Facebook Groups fit right in that same thinking process. When you can’t find the answer on Google, it makes sense to ask a real human instead, especially when you have a topic that is not exactly well formulated or lacks some context.
Gen Z isn’t posting as much on their news feed, but they still communicate through Groups like an ongoing chat. They also know that Groups members receive a notification when there’s a new question. Gen Z like to see results and don’t want to wait around for answers. Because they are confident they can find the answer quickly, they use Groups.
Cuban continued to praise Gen Z for another reason that was also remarkable. The Gen Z generation tends to be more analytical and research-oriented than the older generations. People aged 25 years and under have easy access the Internet, social media and other tools. You can ask any question on Google and you use Facebook Groups chats for homework help, questions about life, or to discuss job conflict. Cuban even called them “the greatest generation” for that reason. They don’t like to assume anything.
Curiously, most people I know in the Gen Z age group don’t like to admit they use Facebook. Cuban was right. Their Facebook use is very different from that of the rest.