Facebook is facing a “teen problem” as more young people are signing off and heading to rival platforms such as Snapchat, according to a new study.
Facebook is predicted to lose ground with UK users aged between 12 and 17 in 2018 while over 55s are set to become one of its largest demographics, according to eMarketer.
The study reinforces perceptions that Facebook is becoming a less appealing space for teenagers as it gets increasingly crowded with their parents and grandparents.
eMarketer said UK trends were closely tracking those in the US, where Snapchat set to gain the most new users in the coveted 12 to 17 age bracket this year.
Snapchat is also growing its user base in the UK with close to 43% of social network users predicted to log on in 2018, which is more than double its penetration rate from three years ago.
“Facebook has a ‘teen’ problem,” said Bill Fisher, eMarketer’s UK senior analyst. “This latest forecast indicates that it’s more than a theory.
“And whereas it’s been able to rely on platform shifters being hoovered up by Instagram, there are now some early signs that younger social networkers are being swayed by Snapchat.
“The challenge and opportunity for Snap is how to appeal beyond that core youth demographic.”
According eMarketer’s latest report released Monday, 2.2 million young people aged between 12 and 17 will be using Facebook in 2018, which equates to 71 per cent of the total social media users in that age bracket.
However in 2014 more than 90 per cent of social media users that age were using Facebook and eMarketer is predicting that that share will drop to as low as 66 per cent by 2022.
Facebook is still by far the most popular social media platform in the UK with 32.6 million users – almost half the country’s population – using it, and is still growing overall.
Yet its growth is now being driven by older users with around 400,000 new users over 55 expected to sign up this year, bringing the total number to an estimated 6.3 million.
This will make over 55s the second largest demographic on Facebook after 25 to 34-year-olds.
eMarketer found a similar picture in the US, with Facebook seemingly shedding teenage users to other platforms. However the company found that whereas in the past many were leaving for Facebook-owned Instagram, in 2018 its rival Snapchat stands to hoover up the most new young signups.
The company estimates that Facebook will lose 2 million users under 25 in the US this year. Meanwhile Instagram is predicted to gain 1.6 million users in that demographic, whereas Snapchat was will add 1.9 million users in that age group.
While Snapchat appears to be winning the battle for younger users, Instagram is predicted to grow more overall in the US – by more than 13 per cent to 104.7 million users. Snapchat is estimated to grow by 9.3 per cent in 2018 to 86.5 million users overall.
Although Facebook remains by far the largest platform in the US in 2018 with 169.5 million users.
Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer principal analyst, said: “Snapchat could eventually experience more growth in older age groups, since it’s redesigning its platform to be easier to use.
“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.”