A new report has confirmed what Facebook has feared for several years: teenagers, a key demographic for online marketers, are increasingly adopting other social media platforms for a new experience.
A newly released report from eMarketer has shown that the number of 12-17 year olds using the site is expected to shrink by up to 2.4% this year. This is the first time eMarketer has predicted such as reduction in numbers, and it went on to say that usage rates for 18-24 year olds will not grow as quickly as desired.
This cloud over Facebook has a silver lining, though: many teens are turning to Instagram, which Facebook purchased for $1 billion (£779 million) in 2012.
However, Snapchat is snapping at its heels, and by the end of 2017 may overtake both in these demographics.
Although Instagram currently has more users, Snapchat, is on course overtake it this year. In fact, eMarketer has predicted that it will also pass Facebook in terms of the total number of users in the 12-17 and 18-24 demographics for the first time, and increase its total share of social media users to 40.8%.
The secret to its increasing popularity is tapping into how teens prefer to interact. In an eMarketer blog post, analyst Oscar Orozco said:
“Both [Instagram and Snapchat] have found success with this demographic since they are more aligned with how they communicate – that is, using visual content.”
Orozco sees a problem with how Facebook is engaging younger people:
“Outside of those who have already left, teens and tweens remaining on Facebook seem to be less engaged, logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform.
At the same time, we have ‘Facebook-nevers’ – children aging into the tween demographic who appear to be overlooking Facebook altogether, yet engaging with Facebook-owned Instagram.”
Facebook’s current problem with teens has been several years in the making. It dropped hints around four years ago that the teen audience was diminishing, and despite a positive earnings report for that year, its stock dipped amid speculation that there was a deeper cause of the problem.
Social media usage rates are roughly equivalent between the US and the UK. Keeping a close eye on what’s happening over the pond could give UK businesses some insight on how to tweak their content strategy to stay relevant with younger people.