Is Facebook’s teen exodus all it seems?
Over the past few days there has been plenty of discussion about Facebook’s so called decline among young users, with some reports going as far as to describe the social media giant as ‘dead and buried’. This is unsurprising and in many ways reflective of social media observers’ tendency to try and stay ahead of the game by predicting the next ‘big thing’. But is Facebook really losing influence among the youth demographic?
Sloppy growth rate
Claims of Facebook’s decline were sparked by a study about the growth of social media sites in the second half of 2013. According to the report, Instagram tops the table with a 23% increase rate and a staggering 85% rise in teen users. Whilst most other major social media platforms also experienced a boost, Facebook’s growth appears sloppy, with a 3% loss to its active user base.
In addition, a recent paper by a University College of London professor suggests Facebook is now seen as ‘uncool’ by teens. This has been linked to Facebook’s changing image and popularity among older generations – which may be summed up as the ‘Nobody wants to hang out with their parents’ theory. It may also explain why over 11 million teens have left Facebook since 2011..
Rise of Apps
The so-called decline of Facebook may also correlate with the rise of mobile apps. Hence, platforms like WhatsApp and WeChat (which saw a rise of 1021% among the 16-19s!) have experienced spectacular growth in 2013, while an estimate 10% of teens now use Snapchat on a regular basis.
Adding insult to injury, other apps which were seen as redundant until recently, such as Vine and Flickr, also appear to be on the rise.
Most active users
Although reports suggest that Facebook’s supremacy is over, percentage figures are relative and should not overshadow actual user numbers. Indeed, Facebook is still by far the biggest platform in terms of account ownership.
In addition, it still has the highest number of active users (around 49%), whereas most other platforms range between the 25-35% mark. This cannot be attributed to the older demographic, as almost half of 16-19s around the world use it on monthly basis.
All in all, Facebook remains by far the most popular and influential social media platform, both overall and among young people in particular. Although it now faces a larger competition, particularly from mobile apps, it is merely sharing its fan base, not losing it. Besides, its decelerating growth rate should not be seen as an indicator of decline, as it is so large it isn’t comparable to that of emerging platforms.