Facebook seems determined to recover the younger end of the market

Facebook has launched an application exclusively for users aged 21 or under. Lifestage has been designed by Michael Sayman, a 19-year-old product manager at the company and aims to recover the younger segment that has allegedly stopped using Facebook in recent years in the belief that “old” people use it, even if the figures show that they continue to use it.

The social network is an app, which it would have to be to appeal to a generation that puts the smartphone at the center of their lives. It’s profiles are in video format and basically looks and feels like Facebook would if somebody invented it today based on current trends. Updates are made through video and supplemented by simple editing tools and grouped in video profiles others can see. The idea of Lifestage is “your life on a stage”.

The app can be downloaded by anybody, but people aged 22 or over can only see their own profile, not those of others. You don’t need a Facebook profile to download it, and the approach is pretty much the same as Facebook when it was launched: profiles must be linked to a college or school, and only begin to show other users’ profiles when there are 20 or more people from the same college with profiles on the application, which is trying to generate the idea of popularity and to encourage other people to round up more profiles. Once you’ve done so, you can see users in your school and others nearby, and you have simple tools to block and report bothersome profiles.

Managing a network exclusively for this age segment is not easy. On the one hand, you have to keep older people out for obvious reasons. On the other hand, you have to find ways to avoid bullying or any other kind of troublesome adolescent behavior.

The launch of Lifestage at the same time as Instagram Stories by Facebook show just how seriously the company takes the younger end of the market and the need to avoid the so-called Woolworth effect of an aging customer base. Putting a wunderkind like Sayman in charge sends out a clear message that “this product is for young people, designed by young people.” Success if by no means guaranteed, and much remains to be done in terms of cultural diversity and attractiveness, but it is a proof of how important Facebook think it is to reconnect with the younger segment.

(En español, aquí)