We Need a New Facebook NOW

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A pair of Tweets from CNBC's Carl Quintanilla caught my eye Wednesday morning:

Because it tends to consist of poorly-conducted, horribly unscientific survey methods, I'm generally skeptical of "research" that comes from Wall Street analysts. That said, I'm willing to suspend my PhD-dropout snobby skepticism because Quintanilla, who spent the better part of this year working on a highly-anticipated Twitter documentary that premieres tonight on CNBC (I can't wait to watch), felt the data warranted mention. I assume he has come across other information -- quantitative and qualitative -- that supports something that has become accepted throughout much of pop society:

Twitter is fast becoming the go-to social network among "young people." The widely-accepted, albeit intuitive corollary to that, of course, is that Facebook ( FB) use and interest wanes among these elusive and reportedly fickle "young people."

The perceptive reader can tell I'm not sold on this notion. My own experience with Facebook -- empirically and anecdotally -- tells me otherwise.

First, nearly half of the audience that "LIKES" TheStreet's Facebook page is between the ages of 18 and 34 years old. That's quite impressive, particularly for a Website that tends to skew considerably older.

Second, Facebook advertising deserves a lion's share of the credit for TheStreet's reach into that 18-34 demographic. Not only are they coming to us for news, information and entertainment, they're engaging with us and turning into advocates (that's an annoying social media, marketing buzzword) for our brand (buzz, buzz).

Third, take a look around. I don't care where you are. In line at a Justin Bieber concert, at the movies, at a hockey game, checkout at the supermarket, rafting in the middle of the Indian Ocean -- look over the shoulder of the person manipulating their smartphone. If you don't find Facebook open, it's on the first page of most devices. (Granted, my use of the word "most" is "horribly unscientific").

Depending on how you measure it, Facebook has become more ubiquitous than Google ( GOOG) the verb, Apple's ( AAPL) iPhones and iPads, Amazon.com's ( AMZN) cardboard boxes and, when they saturated mailboxes, Netflix's ( NFLX) sexy red envelopes. Entire discussions I overhear -- often many times a day -- revolve around how whatever the subject is was situated on Facebook.

Needless to say, this platform is powerful, the stock could very well hit $100 and conventional wisdom might be, as Mark Zuckerberg tells us, dead wrong.

But, again, my disbelief remains suspended. If the folks who say Facebook is on the way out with young people are correct, we have to first determine if that matters. It can still be an advertising dynamo with an older audience. It's not like it has an AM radio core that is often referred to as 65-to-dead. But, of course, if it's counting on 35-64 year olds, let's say, to ring the register today that could be a big long-term problem tomorrow.

So, what to do? I don't think it's much of a conundrum.

Figure out a way to create another Facebook to alleviate the biggest, most obvious problem facing Facebook today.

Young people -- and that includes me at the ripe age of 38 -- are freaked out because their parents are, all of a sudden, popping up on Facebook like worms on a soapy and wet patch of grass. This comes as no surprise. The younger set makes something cool (in this case, younger ranges wide) and their parents take a look, determine it's for them and join en masse.

They're not just joining because it's "for them." They're on Facebook because it gives them a window into a somewhat uninhibited version of their offspring. Seeing some people on social media is akin to seeing them anywhere from feeling good to flat out sloppy drunk. What parent doesn't want, even if sinisterly, this unfiltered view of their kid? Plus, they dig Facebook for less nefarious purposes; it gives them more frequent pictures of their grandkids and a peek into that ideal American life their son and/or daughter has reportedly carved out for him or herself.

So, actually, this is a bit of a conundrum.

You can't treat Facebook like the golf tour, splitting it between the regular and the senior versions. That's not going to work because you have teens who have flocked to Twitter (and Tumblr and who knows where else) for asylum. But you also have 38-year old parents such as myself. And you have every flavor of person trying to run away -- as fast as they can -- from the people they perceive as uncool. Simply put, while I'm running away from my mother, my daughter is desperately running away from both of us.

This is a problem. A new Facebook -- now -- is the solution. And Mark Zuckerberg is the perfect person to work on the solution.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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