Mark Zuckerberg will not be happy about this.
According to the latest study by Pew Research, Facebook is now the fourth most popular social network amongst teen users in the U.S., lagging behind YouTube, Instagram and (the worst news for Zuck) Snapchat.
The study, which took into account responses from 743 U.S. teens, once again highlights one of Facebook’s key concerns – that it’s losing traction amongst younger users. The potential fallout here could be that Facebook eventually loses ground more broadly, as trends among younger audiences tend to become larger shifts.
The data is also a significant change from last time Pew conducted the same study, back in 2015 – here’s a side by side comparison of the 2015 (left) and 2018 numbers.
It’s worth noting that both YouTube and Reddit were not included in the 2015 report, so there’s no direct comparison for YouTube’s growth. But either way, it’s very clear that Facebook’s losing favor among younger users. Amazing how things can change in social in such a short space of time.
The data also once again points to the potential of Snapchat - while Snap has come under increased scrutiny in recent times, particularly following the app’s recent redesign, it clearly still holds appeal among younger audiences. Whether that’s a reflection of the broader populous catching onto Facebook (and teens wanting to escape prying eyes) or a response to rising privacy concerns, Snapchat has been able to maintain, and even boost, its appeal.
Also relevant – the Pew study was conducted between March 7th and April 10th, 2018, well after the rollout of Snapchat’s redesign, so that change is factored into these results.
In terms of usage, as you can also see in the top chart, 35% of the teens surveyed said they use Snapchat the most, with YouTube coming in second. Only around 10% of teens said Facebook was their most used platform – though those numbers do shift among certain economic and gender groups.
As noted by Pew:
“Lower-income teens are far more likely than those from higher income households to say Facebook is the online platform they use most often (22% vs. 4%). There are also some differences related to gender and to race and ethnicity when it comes to teens’ most-used sites. Girls are more likely than boys to say Snapchat is the site they use most often (42% vs. 29%), while boys are more inclined than girls to identify YouTube as their go-to platform (39% vs. 25%).”
In terms of lower-economic groups, the higher bandwidth requirements of YouTube and Snapchat are likely a factor here, but it is definitely worth considering in your targeting, while Snapchat has always been more popular among female users, another key note.
So what does this mean for Facebook? It’s certainly not the first study to show that The Social Network’s losing ground with teens – a report from investment firm Piper Jaffray released last October indicated much the same, with Snapchat and Instagram well ahead of other platforms in teen usage.
That study took in the responses of more than 6,000 US teens, so an even broader, and likely more indicative, pool.
Is that a concern? Should Facebook be worried about this trend? The platform added around 70 million more active users in Q1 2018, so it’s still growing overall, but the operative figure missing, both from Facebook’s numbers and this report, is the actual amount of time spent, and the opportunities available to reach users on each platform.
While, as noted, respondents here have said that they use Snapchat more, Pew didn’t ask for an average minutes estimate. Previous reports have shown that users spend close to 35 minutes per day on Snapchat, compared to 32 minutes on Instagram (among younger users). Facebook users, meanwhile, could reportedly spend up to 41 minutes per day in the app going on reported usage numbers, while YouTube’s data suggests people are spending over 30 minutes per day in app.
Those figures add another consideration – though you also need to factor in exactly how each platform is being used. YouTube’s focus on video likely makes it a more passive user experience, and Facebook too has been pushing more and more video into feeds. That would likely suggest that both Instagram and Snapchat provide more active, engaging options, which could provide more marketing opportunities, dependent on your approach.
But however you look at it, it’s clear that Snapchat’s not sunk yet, and that there’s increased opportunity to reach younger users on platforms outside of Facebook’s dominance. And moving forward, that could become an even bigger consideration.
While they’ll still win out with Instagram, the unshakeable dominance of Facebook’s main platform may not be assured just yet.