Kirk Klasson

Facebook: The Cadillac of Social Media?

Honey, I just wonder what you do there in the back…

Leaving the Pew polls aside for a moment when I close my eyes I imagine the typical Facebook user to be increasingly female, white, high-school educated, and of lower middle class income. They are also increasingly empty nesters whose preferred vacation venue is a cruise ship where they can be locked in a floating hotel with 978 of their new BFF’s and where even if it turns into a floating cesspool it will still be more fun than Ethel next door had all last year. Increasingly too, they are a cohort whose one social wish is to live their lives ever nostalgically, as if even the toast they ate this morning can live on in the romantic glow of a special memory. And, as some folks have recently pointed out, they are increasingly dead.

In case you missed it, it’s now vogue to point out exactly when Facebook will have more dead members than those of the living variety. Assuming no additional growth in membership this will likely occur sometime around 2065, long after anyone here will notice. Facebook has always had an issue when it comes to establishing the authenticity of its members. Right out of the gate they estimated that anywhere between 8-11% of their membership might not be authentic, you know, the usual pets, avatars, imaginary friends and those always pesky Nigerians. But 11% isn’t that large a concern for a site that might soon host a billion members. But a different shift may be occurring and it might be of greater consequence.

If you look at the profile mentioned at the top of this post and took this same list of attributes and changed female to male you would basically have the Cadillac demo of the last century, a brand that was marketed to older white males, with high-school educations, lower middle class incomes and union backed jobs. For these folks, Cadillac was the brand that said you had arrived, even when everything else about you said you were on your way out. Plaid, polyester golf pants, timeshare in Boca, cards and cigars, Cadillac. Yep, that’s you. Over time these folks became a demo of consumers that were increasingly irrelevant, and also, by the way, increasingly dead. But maybe that’s just a coincidence.

There was a time when Cadillac was the epitome of affordable consumer luxury, a brand that other brands aspired to be, when leaders of completely dissimilar consumer categories longed to be known as the Cadillac of beer or dishwashers or lawn mowers. But then due to a series of clunkers like the Allante, the Cimarron and the Cortana, a concept so poorly executed that not even GM wanted to be affiliated with it, being like a Cadillac took on new meaning.

Nearly all brands become affiliated with a specific cohort and once established that cohort often dictates the lifecycle (see Trouble in Paradise – May 2012) of the brand. Why do most consumer brands want your business while you are still in high-school? Because your disposable income diminishes once your dead. And this may yet be true for Facebook’s cohort as they slowly grow increasingly irrelevant.

Cool is a zeitgeist and it doesn’t last forever. But before it’s gone here’s another 20 pictures of the sun setting over the casino in Aruba as we left port just the other day.

For a more recent take on Facebook check out the Epilogues tab and look for The Curse of the Walled Garden – January 2018.

Cover graphic courtesy of: the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide “1950-1959 Cadillac” 13 March <> 5 March 2016 all other images, statistics, illustrations and citations, etc. derived and included under fair use/royalty free provisions.

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