Young users: Snapchat triumphs over Facebook


Facebook has a problem- it’s losing young users and it’s Snapchat that’s picking them up.

And while we’ve been aware of it shedding youthful users for a while, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast on social network usage, Facebook is losing them “at an even faster pace than previously expected.”

True, Facebook is still gaining users (it’s predicted to see a US rise of 1% to almost 170m this year), but they tend to be older.

The study said that this year, for the first time, less than half of US internet users aged 12-17 will use Facebook via any device at least once a month- that’s a 5.6% drop.

Meanwhile, users aged 18-24 will decline 5.8%, and crucially, the number of US Facebook users aged 11 and under will fall by more than 9%.

It’s the first time eMarketer has predicted declines in those age groups and it’s expected to add up to a loss of 2m users aged 24 and younger this year.

It’s not just a US issue. In the UK, the number of 12s-24s regularly using Facebook is predicted to drop by 700,000 to 6.7m this year- dropping its market share to 71%.

Some 43% of British teens are expected to use Snapchat this year, more than double the figure of 2015.

So can Facebook rely on Instagram to save the day?

eMarketer suggests it can’t. Admittedly, it expects Instagram to add 1.6m users aged 24 and below, but Snapchat is predicted to add 1.9m and will continue to have more users aged 12-24 compared to Instagram.

Of course, Instagram remains the bigger platform overall in the US, with user numbers anticipated to rise over 13% this year to 104.7m, compared to Snapchat rising over 9% to 86.5m, so Instagram – like Facebook itself – can hardly be said to be in decline.

But the young users really do matter, especially when it comes to where marketers spend their money.

eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson said Snapchat could eventually see more growth in older age groups on the back of its platform redesign that’s intended to make it easier to use. But she wonders whether any platform can appeal strongly to both young and old.

“The question will be whether younger users will still find Snapchat cool if more of their parents and grandparents are on it,” she said. “That’s the predicament Facebook is in.”


For more on Snapchat, read our Snapchat: Can it deliver for brands? report.


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