Facebook Continues To Lose Favor Among Teens As Instagram And Snapchat Take Over

Social Media Week

New research predicts that the social media giant could lose more than 3 percent of users 12-17 this year.

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Facebook, a platform whose initial offering was reserved exclusively for teens and young adults, is failing to keep the attention of rising teenagers, per new research from eMarketer.

The research firm estimates that 14.5 million users between 12 to 17 will use Facebook in 2017, reflecting a 3.4 percent drop compared to last year. By 2021, eMarketer estimates that users in the same age group, representing 89.1 percent of users today, will drop to just 76.2 percent.

As new (ish) kids on the block Instagram and Snapchat continue to battle back and forth, at times mimicking each other’s core platform features, they are experiencing double digit growth year-over-year, per eMarketer’s estimates.

Analysts forecast that Snapchat’s user base will grow by more than 25 percent in 2017 (79.2 million monthly users overall), with the biggest push coming from users 18 to 24. Instagram, whose Stories product eclipsed the total number of Snapchat users earlier this year, is expected to grow by 25 percent to 85.5 million monthly users.

As is the case with Snapchat, teenagers are helping spur Instagram’s year-over-year growth. In fact, the platform’s share of users under 12 is expected to grow by 19 percent, while tweens (12 to 17 year-olds) will grow by nearly 9 percent.

In a blog post, eMarketer analyst Oscar Orozco attributes the flood of tweens to Instagram and Snapchat to the fact that these platforms lead with the communications features younger users favor the most—that is, visual content. Not surprisingly, they opening Instagram and Snapchat more regularly and spending less time on Facebook as a result. What’s more, teens and young adults are increasingly choosing to opt out of Facebook entirely.

These trends paint a somewhat complex picture for Facebook, which owns Instagram and can, therefore, provide the necessary means for attracting brand dollars through their choice platform among teens and young adults. Still, given the platforms ongoing investments in Messenger and video (Facebook Watch), they can’t be too excited to learn they are losing favor among younger consumers.

Additionally, according to the study, Instagram’s success at mimicking Snapchat-like features over the past several months will more than likely serve it well by providing opportunities to create and share both ephemeral and more permanent content. In parallel, Snapchat is doubling down on media partnerships in an attempt to become the go-to news source for young people.


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Katie Perry

Contributor, Social Media Week

Katie Perry is a marketing & content strategist and contributor to SMW News, a leading news platform covering startups, tech, brands and the future of work. You can follow Katie on Twitter at @katieeperry.

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