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Leaked internal Facebook memo reveals a ‘psychological trick’ on how to woo teenage users

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Facebook last month killed the teen app TBH it acquired in October 2017. But not before learning a ‘psychological trick’ for attracting young users. A leaked internal facebook memo acquired by Buzzfeed News indicates that the social media giant has copied sneaky tactics how to reach teenage market from the TBH founders.

The 12-month old TBH app which had about 6.4 million users was collapsed by Facebook for failing to meet user growth expectations. The app’s user growth rate was very promising at first: it won an estimated 2.5 million users within the first two months of launch before Facebook acquired it at an undisclosed price. TechCrunch reported the acquisition price to be around $100 million.

In recent years, Facebook has lost boatloads of teens to rival social media networks including its own Instagram, with the worst scenario forcing the tech giant to lose nearly $120 billion worth of stock within 24 hours after its third-quarter reports postulated more sink in user expansion. All hands must be on deck to mechanize user expansion and Facebook is likely to explore TBH’s golden launch hour trick to target teens. So how does it work?

The Golden Launch Hour

The TBH team exploited Facebook-owned Instagram to make the trick work. Most teens include their high school name on their Instagram profiles. For each targeted school, the team would create a private Instagram account which is used to invite teens with the school name to join. That provoked the student’s curiosity with messages like “You've been invited to the TBH app at [name of the school] – stay tuned!” The TBH team would add the app store URL to its profile after waiting for the students to follow for 2 hours.

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook

Image: Mark Zuckerberg at F8 2018

The Golden Launch Hour simply means the targeted time to do this and it’s at 4 pm, just as the teens left school for the day. Facebook deployed a different but similar method after acquiring TBH. The account creation and app store URL posting were considered “too scrappy for a big company,” in TBH statement. Facebook was rather sending messages to targeted users en masse during this time.

Facebook likes the tactics but won’t comment on the internal memo

It is not clear if Facebook had used/or using the ‘psychological trick’ on how to reach teenage market described by TBH. The social media giant declined to comment on the memo but declared an interest in it. A survey by Market Research also reported by TechRadar suggests that teens are gradually growing more fund of Snapchat and more users over 55 years are using Facebook.

Last year, Facebook launched a version of its chat app for pre-teens – Messenger Kids in a bid to avert the mentioned growth challenges among teens. The chat app lets the pre-teens to speak to a list of contacts that would be approved by their parents. Facebook is simply looking at absorbing the kids while they are young to create Facebook accounts once they are 13 years old. Is that really a permanent solution?

Facebook is also collaborating with schools to teach about online safety, with the benefit of expanding its user growth among youngsters who would remain its users. And why is “growth” the most important metric here?

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