Who Cares If Teens Don't Use Facebook?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As my daughter approaches 13 years of age, I hope she maintains the ability to express herself as well as Ruby Karp, the newly minted teenager who wrote an Op-Ed for Mashable, I'm 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook (FB).

Karp articulates much of what we have heard before -- Teens have moved on to other social networks. They're no longer "obsessed" with Facebook. And some slightly more original material -- It's become too complicated.

She closes with the contention: "Facebook needs teens, because we'll be the people keeping it going very soon. And teens can see that, which freaks them out."

I don't understand why the demise of Facebook would freak teens out, but the notion that "we'll be the people keeping it going very soon" gets overplayed.

If the 12-to-17-year-old demographic abandons Facebook it doesn't necessarily mean the 18-to-34 and 25-to-54-year-old demos come crashing down. And the notion that teens set trends for older people doesn't follow as logically as many people assume. So a 13, 15 or 17-year-old turns 18, 20 or 22 in five years and they're not Facebook users. Mathematically that doesn't take apart the constitution of the most important demo for advertisers -- 25 to 54.

According to the latest numbers from Facebook, more than 128 million users log into the site daily on the Web. About 101 million access it via mobile devices. Right now -- and for the foreseeable future -- the people who matter (18 to 54 year olds) are, to considerable extents, "obsessed" with Facebook. That's not changing anytime soon.

Take a look around you ... Facebook is a major part of the lives of an outrageous number of adults throughout the world. And, even if there's a decrease among teen users, they have not gone away completely.

I posted a picture of Wall Street and the NYSE on it this morning. Once this article publishes I'll share it with my Facebook friends (and yes, despite the security risks, I accept all Facebook friend requests). I keep in touch with of people I never would he reconnected or discovered in the first place. People bail me out of jams from time to time on Candy Crush.

Simply put, Facebook has achieved a level of ubiquity that doesn't come apart overnight. It's not MySpace.

First, MySpace never achieved anywhere near the global market saturation Facebook has. It scaled out at, what, just over 100 million users. That's collateral damage for Mark Zuckerberg. Second, there's was more Antony Weiner-type stuff happening on MySpace than the mundane day-to-day, purely platonic human contact that occurs every second, 24/7, on Facebook.

And that's what matters -- the mundane. Because that relationship, like the one radio had with multiple generations and television continues to have, matters. That's what sticks. The fleeting tastes of fickle teens means very little. In fact, it's comical to hear Karp complain about Facebook ads, yet I'm sure she's been duped by marketing ploys such as Nickelodeon "National Day of Play."

If there is a trend here, it absolutely will not derail Facebook's ability to generate billions in revenue, particularly with mobile and video advertisers, over the next several years.

Facebook is nimble. As necessary, it will evolve. Its rapid shift from the desktop to mobile proves this. But, more importantly, advertisers are more nimble than we give them credit for. They go where either the largest audience is and/or their targeted audience is. Neither of those will be absent from Facebook anytime soon, no matter the 12-to-17-year old crowd does.

-- 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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