The Piper Jaffray semiannual survey of American teens showed that Facebook ranks only fourth as their most important social network, with Instagram the clear favourite. 33% of US youth said Instagram was their most important social network, 20% cited Twitter as their most important network, with chat app Snapchat topping the list for 19% of those surveyed. Facebook, which has long been considered the biggest and most adopted of all social platforms trailed in fourth place with just 15% of teenagers naming it as their most important network. Tumblr managed only 3% and Pinterest 1%.
The results of this survey raise new questions about whether or not Facebook can stay relevant for younger users, who have abandoned the site in recent years – it was last the site of choice for this demographic in the 2012 version of this survey.
Declining youth use raises red flags for brands which target a younger demographic and mean those companies with a teen client base must also shift their affiliations from Facebook to newer channels such as Instagram and Snapchat.
In total, just over 9000 American teenagers participated in the survey, with an almost equal mix of male and female respondents. The last survey was carried out in spring with the only significant change since then being Snapchat – which has leap-frogged Facebook this time round.
The results of this survey are backed up by a poll published by Forbes in January, which found that Facebook use actually declined in 2014. This made it the only social network of all the established players to see its user interactions fall that year, a trend that may well continue as other start-ups siphon off sections of its user base.
According to Forbes, “While Pinterest saw activity increase 97% and Tumblr by 95%, Facebook was the only big network to experience a drop in active usage last year, by 9%, according to GlobalWebIndex (GWI), a research firm that interviews 170,000 internet users in 32 markets and claims to run the largest ongoing study into digital consumption to date.
“The slide was most acute in Asia Pacific, where the rate of active Facebook users declined 12%, and social networks like WeChat and Qzone dominate, particularly in China.”
The decline isn’t all bad news for Facebook though – it owns Instagram so while its core user base may be less active on the original site, those same users haven’t been lost to a rival, but funneled off into a new platform that better resonates with their changing attitudes and user behavior.
What does this mean for brands?
If you are targeting youth consumers, especially teenagers, your marketing needs to be flexible and move with changing tastes. With Facebook now less important for teens, its impact on sales and marketing is likely to be lower. To keep social spend effective, your budget needs to follow the demographic – consider ads on Instagram and look into setting up a Snapchat profile.
Will you continue to use Facebook? Are other social media channels more important for your business? Let us know in the comments below.