Facebook use in the US appears to be on the decline, and there are growing indications that its struggles with youth are grounded in reality, not hype. Late last year a study from Forrester Research suggested that teen use of Facebook may have peaked, and the latest annual Infinite Dial report from Edison Research and Triton Digital indicates that Snapchat is giving it a serious challenge among the wider 12-34 market.
An early tease of the report showed that the percentage of Americans ages 12+ using Facebook declined for the first time in this year’s study, from 67% to 62%. What that overall figure masked – and what is apparent now – is that the decline was almost wholly due to the 12-34 bracket.
In fact, the percentage of respondents ages 12-34 who reported using Facebook plummeted from 79% last year to 67% this year.
What that means is a larger proportion of respondents ages 35-54 (69%) than 12-34 now report ever using Facebook.
For comparison’s sake, a newly-released study from the Pew Research Center did find higher rates of Facebook adoption among US adults: 80% among 18-24-year-olds; 82% among 25-29-year-olds; and 78% among 30-49-year-olds.
Snapchat Challenges Facebook As Youths’ Most-Used Social Brand
The Infinite Dial report also shows that Facebook is being increasingly challenged by Snapchat for youths’ attention.
The study asked respondents ages 12-34 who currently use Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn to identify which of those they use the most often.
Last year, Facebook was the clear leader, as the most frequently-used platform by more than twice as many respondents as Snapchat and Instagram (48%, 19% and 18%, respectively).
Fast forward a year and that lead is quickly evaporating. Facebook is now the most often-used by a significantly smaller 35%, with Snapchat (29%) and Instagram (22%) gaining ground.
It’s true that these results indicate that Facebook is still on top. And, combined with Instagram, the company’s properties are most-used by a majority (57%) of 12-34-year-old social media users.
But it’s nonetheless interesting that Snapchat gained more ground this year than Instagram. This seems to align with a recent forecast from eMarketer, which called for a decline this year in Facebook users ages 12-24. In its forecast, eMarketer also predicted that not all of the 2 million Americans under the age of 24 who will abandon Facebook will migrate to Instagram. Instead, Snapchat – a darling of the youth crowd – is expected to add more users ages 12-24.
Meanwhile, new survey results from Moosylvania also indicate that Facebook is declining with youth: the percentage of 17-27-year-olds saying they interact with it on their smartphone as their favorite brand is down from 52% in 2017 to 40% this year. And among 28-37-year-olds the proportion citing Facebook as a favorite brand to interact with on smartphones dropped from 48% to 33%. In contrast to those rather large declines were Snapchat seeing a noteworthy increase among 17-27-year-olds and Instagram among 28-37-year-olds.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the above-referenced Infinite Dial survey results are among the fairly broad 12-34 age range. If that range were limited to, say 12-24-year-olds, or even just teens, the results would likely favor Snapchat even more. After all, research from Piper Jaffray has demonstrated that Snapchat has risen to be teens’ single most important social platform by a sizable margin, with Facebook trailing in the distance…
About the Data: The Infinite Dial data is based on a national telephone survey conducted in early 2018 among 2,000 Americans ages 12 and older, using random digital dialing techniques to both cell phones and landlines. The survey is offered in both English and Spanish, and the results are weighted to national 12+ population figures.