Facebook To Snapchat -- 'Am I Bothered?'

As a famous British comedienne, Catherine Tate, used to joke when assuming the persona of a petulant schoolchild, should Facebook not just shrug and counter today's social media usage headlines with a challenging "am I bothered?"

The news is out. The social media giant is losing its youngest millennials and Gen Z users. It won't take a genius to predict that the name that crops up in many a news article relaying this news is none other than Snapchat.

Among 12- to 17-year-old Americans, Facebook use is down nearly 6%. The site is growing its user base, but generally among older age groups. 

For some reason eMarketer has looked at usage levels for those under 12 years of age. I won't be repeating them because these are people who are too young to be using the site. Facebook sets an age limit of 13 for good reason. 

One interesting question is that if Facebook's use among younger users is down a little, who is up? Snapchat is the obvious candidate here, but Instagram is not that far behind -- and is, of course, working from a far larger user base. 

So I'd like to just run a sanity check against the headlines. The marketing industry is always after a headline, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, it does sometimes leads people to follow in the footsteps of gurus at conferences who are constantly trying to signal the end for Facebook at the hands of Snapchat. The young don't want to be on the same site as their parents, so Facebook is doomed and will wither on the vine. 

Now, let's have some common sense here. I haven't got the numbers to crunch, but I can pretty much guarantee you there are a lot more millennials and Gen Z on Facebook than there are on Snapchat. I can also be even more confident that this applies far more to Instagram. 

Among British 12- to-24-year-olds, Facebook has a 71% market share, Sky News reveals, and the prediction is that 43% of British teens will log on to Snapchat at some point in 2018, a doubling the proportion who checked out the site in 2015.

So Facebook is still way out ahead and Snapchat is increasing in popularity. Who would you rather be -- the faraway leader of the pack that is making billions per year or the start-up everyone is talking about, which has yet to make a penny in profit? 

Facebook should not be particularly bothered because of its massive lead and the simple fact that it knows teens will want to check out a site their parents don't use. That's the point of being young isn't it? No kid ever asked to borrow their parents' cardigans or record collection (with an honourable exception made for The Beatles, of course).

Facebook has a dog in this fight, and it's called Instagram. Anything Snapchat can do, it can do too, and regularly does.

So let the gurus rant on about Facebook losing its youth allure and come to dramatic conclusions about Snapchat's prospects. The rest of us will just look at the facts and carry on.

Of the headlines surround Facebook right now, this is the least of their worries. Unilever starting of a #MeToo style revolt against social media advertising is a far bigger concern because it taps in to a growing unease among advertisers, politicians and parents about what the huge platforms are inadvertently publishing. 

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