Facebook will lose 2 million young users to Snapchat this year, says study

13th Feb 2018
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The social networking giant is not as popular among 12-to-24-year-olds, who are flocking to Snapchat to escape their parents and grandparents. 

Facebook’s struggle to retain young users is more severe than ever before. The social networking giant is losing users to Snapchat faster than it would have liked. In 2018, Facebook is estimated to lose two million users aged 24 or below, while Snapchat is expected to gain 1.9 million in this age bracket, reveals a new forecast by eMarketer.

Two million might be a blip on the Facebook universe of two billion users, but the social network’s problems with staying relevant to the youth is fairly pronounced now. In 2018, less than half of Americans aged between 12 and 17 will use Facebook at least once a month, says eMarketer. Facebook usage among under-12s will decline 9.3 percent, while the 12-to-17 and 18-to-24 age brackets will witness a 5 percent drop.

In the past, Facebook users who dropped out were migrating to Facebook-owned Instagram. But now, they are flocking to Snapchat, and the ephemeral photo-sharing app’s recent redesign is expected to accelerate this exodus.

Snapchat, in a bid to arrest its declining user growth after the viral success of Instagram Stories, has refreshed its app to make it more user-friendly. It now has separate pages for brand stories, which makes it easier for users to spot content from their friends. eMarketer estimates that Snapchat will have more users than Instagram in the attractive 12-24 age bracket. 

In fact, Snapchat could even see increased interest from older groups now.

Debra Aho Williamson, Principal Analyst at eMarketer, said: “Snapchat could eventually experience more growth in older age groups, since it’s redesigning its platform to be easier to use.”

Why is the youth leaving Facebook?

Facebook’s monthly user growth is now being driven by older groups. It is often the first taste of social media for the older populace. In some Western markets, Facebook has already been dubbed the social network for oldies, while Instagram and Snapchat are sought-after destinations for millennials. In fact, a lot of kids and adolescents are fleeing Facebook to escape their parents and grandparents.

Additionally, the instant gratification offered by Instagram and Snapchat increases user stickiness and engagement. Facebook, in comparison, looks dated and meant for nostalgia and record-keeping only.

Facebook, of course, is not oblivious to its declining popularity among youth. In 2013, when it acquired Instagram for $1 billion, it was evident that it had identified youth as the next growth driver. Facebook did manage to grow Instagram to a vibrant community of 800 million users, and is targeting the 1-billion mark by end of 2018.

But, Snapchat continued to remind Facebook that the youth belonged somewhere else. After the former rejected Facebook’s $3 billion buyout offer in 2013, Facebook made concerted attempts to clone Snapchat features, first on Instagram, then on its native platform, and even on WhatsApp. While Instagram Stories became a runaway hit, Facebook struggled to increase engagement on Facebook Stories.

Even now, Facebook continues to add features to its native Stories in a bid to drive usage, but has failed spectacularly. Stories on Facebook has been deemed a “ghost feature” in social media circles. Surely, Mark Zuckerberg needs to find another way to prevent youngsters from logging out!

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