Facebook is losing appeal among teens and young adults which is contributing to generally slowing growth for the platform, according to the latest projections from research firm eMarketer.
At the same time alternative social apps Snapchat and (Facebook-owned) Instagram are seeing rising and double-digit growth in the same youth demographic — suggesting younger users are favoring newer and more visual communications platforms.
“Both platforms have found success with this demographic since they are more aligned with how they communicate — using visual content,” noted eMarketer forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco in a statement.
It’s the second consecutive year of expected usage declines for Facebook among this advertiser-coveted group, according to the researcher.
eMarketer suggests some tweens are even skipping adopting Facebook entirely (it calls them “Facebook nevers”) and going straight to the rival platforms, even as remaining tweens and teens appear less engaged on Facebook — logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform.
While having slipping relevance among a coveted ad demographic is obviously not good news for a social behemoth whose business is dependent on ad revenue, Facebook does have the consolation of also owning one of the two main youth-friendly alternative platforms: Instagram. (Aka, ‘if you can’t be it, buy it’.)
Still, eMarketer is also projecting that the acquisition that got away from Zuck, Snapchat, will overtake Instagram and Facebook in the total teen (12 to 17) & young adult (18 to 24) ages for the first time in 2017 — boosting its share of US social network users to 40.8 per cent, and projected to push close to a majority by 2021. (Though Instagram is also forecast to maintain its greater reach through this timeframe.)
Back in 2013, when reports of Facebook’s spurned acquisition attempts of Snapchat surfaced, it followed fast on the heels of the company reporting a first-time decline in young teens using its service daily.
Nearly four years later Facebook’s problem with keeping teens happy has only got bigger — but the company’s success at using Instagram to successfully clone Snapchat’s features has helped mitigate the issue. (Even if it means Facebook’s corporate motto should really now read: ‘Move fast and clone things’.)