As teens increasingly engage with Snapchat and Instagram, Facebook will see slowing growth in this demographic in the U.S., according to a new forecast by eMarketer. The digital researcher projects that 14.5 million people ages 12 to 17 will use Facebook in 2017, a drop of 3.4% from the prior year.
While Facebook continues its torrid growth around the world with more than 2 billion users estimated this year, younger people are less enthralled, according to Oscar Orozco, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer.
“We see teens and tweens migrating to Snapchat and Instagram. Both platforms have found success with this demographic since they are more aligned with how they communicate—that is, using visual content.
"Outside of those who have already left, teens and tweens remaining on Facebook seem to be less engaged—logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform,” stated Orozco. “At the same time, we now have ‘Facebook-nevers’—children aging into the tween demographic who appear to be overlooking Facebook altogether, yet still engaging with Facebook-owned Instagram.”
By contrast, eMarketer projected that Snapchat's U.S. user base will grow 25.8% to 79.2 million monthly, with adjusted growth figures higher for all but the oldest age group, with the biggest upward revision made to the 18-to-24 group. That young adult cohort will see usage increase 19.2% this year.
In addition, monthly Instagram usage in the U.S. will grow 23.8% in 2017, a rate higher than previously forecast, to 85.5 million. And within that figure, Instagram will expand its user base among those under 12 years old by 19.0% and those aged 12 to 17 by 8.8%.
“Facebook is fortunate that it owns Instagram, which remains a strong platform for teens,” stated eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “Although usage of the main Facebook app is declining among teens, marketers will still be able to reach them on Instagram.”
Notably, even though Instagram will have more U.S. users than Snapchat, the younger social network will overtake both Instagram and Facebook for total users ages 12 to 17 and 18 to 24 for the first time in 2017. As a result, Snapchat’s share of U.S. social network users will grow to 40.8%.