To put it mildly, Facebook has experienced has a lot of ups and downs over the past year. Most notably, the security and privacy concerns which arose as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, made this year nothing short of a roller coaster ride for the social media giant.

Yet, despite this controversy, most people would agree that Facebook's power within the social media space would allow this scandal to be nothing more than a hiccup with no real impact on the company's success.

Well, according to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, it's time to reconsider the toll these events have taken. Many Facebook users have begun to rethink their relationship with the app. In fact, the report shows as many as 40-percent of U.S. users have taken a break from checking the app for several weeks on end. Additionally, 44-percent of younger users in the United States have deleted the app off of their phone entirely, a software company's worst nightmare in the mobile-friendly world we live in.

Here's what these shifts mean for you as an entrepreneur, plus what you can do to avoid being effected by the exodus.

Users of All Ages Value Privacy 

From the findings gathered by Pew Research Center, it's clear users of all ages were put off by the way Facebook handled their personal data. With just over half of all Facebook users in the US having adjusted their privacy settings in the past year, most including younger users, it's clear just how much users value their privacy today.

Keep this in mind when making decisions at your own company. Take the time to be 100 percent sure that all of your marketing materials, databases and more are compliant with the law. To further increase trust between your company and your customers, go the extra mile by making your Terms and Conditions as clear and comprehensible as possible. No matter what business you have, taking the privacy of your users into consideration, both online and offline, will pay off big-time in the long run.

Begin Investing in Other Social Media Platforms

If one thing can be taken away from this shift, it's as an entrepreneur, it's you need to begin investing in advertising platforms that aren't Facebook (if you don't already). With the cost of Facebook ads increasing year after year, coupled with many users limiting their time on the platform, other apps will provide fresh opportunities for your brand to be seen.

This year, begin testing targeted ads on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest against the results you typically drive with Facebook ads. There's a very good chance these platforms will yield even better results for your business.

Even the Giants Can Fall

We are living in the age of technological disruption. Let's not forget that just a decade ago, Yahoo was still considered "cool", MySpace was still kicking and Netflix was largely known only for delivering DVDs to your house in an envelope. The marketplace moves at breakneck speed. New companies quickly become the old, even those as massive as Facebook.

Today, no company is bulletproof, so be sure and take extreme caution when acting on behalf of your business. As daunting and dramatic as it sounds, one wrong move, whether that be a misguided Tweet or insensitive Facebook post, could have huge consequences. Always be innovating and mindful of what you're putting out into the world.

This Goes Beyond Cambridge Analytica

Over the past year, 44-percent of younger users have deleted Facebook off their phones, but Facebook's problem with gaining traction popularity among younger generations goes far beyond privacy. The app, by its very nature, is less appealing to younger users. Why? Well, any platform that has your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents actively using it is a repellant for engagement for younger users. This leads to them either not posting on Facebook at all, flocking to other apps where they can be themselves, or deleting their profiles altogether. This is one of the biggest reasons platforms like Snapchat have spread like wildfire across this age group.

If your target audience skews younger, begin testing advertising on other platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.

Recent findings make it clear that a large number of users have changed their relationship with Facebook over the past year following the company's privacy and security scandals. With ripple effects still being felt over 6 months after Cambridge Analytica, it's unlikely migration from the app will slow down any time soon. Yet, by following the tips laid out in this article, you'll be in a great position to make sure your own business isn't negatively affected by Facebook's debacles. Best of luck.

Published on: Sep 11, 2018