Facebook is losing ground with US users ages 24 and younger this year, according to forecasts by eMarketer. As older users join, younger generations are becoming less interested, with many turning to Snapchat over Instagram.
For the first time, eMarketer predicts that Facebook will lose users across age groups between the ages of 11 and younger, 12-17 and 18-24. The largest decline will be in users aged 11 and younger, at 9.3 percent. Teenagers and young adults are leaving at similar rates as one another. Users ages 12-17 and 18-24 will decrease by 5.6 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively.
Facebook acknowledged the decline in users in its fourth quarter earnings call to investors. According to the company’s estimates, its users spent five percent less time on its platforms, resulting in 50 million fewer hours on Facebook per day. For the first time in the company’s history, the number of daily active users in the US and Canada dropped, as well.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t seem concerned, citing quality of engagement over quantity.
“I want to be clear, the most important driver of our business has never been time spent by itself,” Zuckerberg said in the call. “It’s the quality of the conversations and connection.”
Ages 55 and over will become the second-biggest demographic on Facebook this year, which begs the question for youngsters—is the social network still cool? As parents and grandparents sign up en mass, younger users, especially teenagers, begin to crave privacy and camaraderie with friends.
There is some hope for Facebook in that many, but not all of its estranged users are migrating to Instagram. EMarketer predicts that Instagram will add 1.6 million users ages 24 and younger this year.
Instagram is still more popular in the US than Snapchat, however. Instagram users are expected to increase 13.1 percent in 2018 to reach 104.7 million.
Snapchat, meanwhile, is also expected to grow but at a slightly slower pace of 9.3 percent. The company will add 1.9 million users aged 24 and younger and continue to have more users ages 12-24 compared with that of Instagram. EMarketer predicts that Snapchat users will number 86.5 million this year.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, Snapchat saw the addition of 8.9 million daily active users, the highest number of quarterly net adds since the third quarter of 2016.
Snap, Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel told investors that the app’s redesign is easier to use and is attracting older users. On the surface, this appears to be good news, but Snapchat is known for being very niche—i.e. attracting primarily young consumers.
“Snapchat could eventually experience more growth in older age groups since it’s redesigning its platform to be easier to use,” eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said in a statement. “The question will be whether younger users will still find Snapchat cool if more of their parents and grandparents are on it. That’s the predicament Facebook is in.”