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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Facebook loses ground as teens and tweens turn to Snapchat

Teens prefer Snapchat, but world's largest social media network can buy its way back to the top 

Saudi authorities have asked for the Al Jazeera Discover Publisher feature to be removed in the country. Patrick Fallon / Bloomberg
Saudi authorities have asked for the Al Jazeera Discover Publisher feature to be removed in the country. Patrick Fallon / Bloomberg

Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, is losing its appeal to younger users as they turn to Snapchat and Instagram, however the company has the financial clout to surmount changing market dynamics, according to a new report.

Facebook users in the 12 to 24 age range are forecast to slip further this year in the US and UK, according to research from New York-based eMarketer. “We see teens and tweens migrating to Snapchat and Instagram,” said Oscar Orozco, eMarketer senior forecasting analyst.

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These users want more visual content and fewer words, which is why eMarketer believes Snapchat will overtake both Instagram and Facebook in terms of total users at the 12-24 age bracket for the first time this year. The researcher expects Snapchat’s share of social network users in America will grow nearly 41 per cent.

In the UK, Instagram will take top place, securing more than a quarter of the population with 16.7 million people, an increase of 35 per cent compared to last year. Snapchat will follow with 21 per cent of the population. Facebook and Snapchat could not be reached for comment.

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Bill Fisher, eMarketer’s UK senior analyst, said that more young adults turn to Snapchat repeatedly throughout the day, helping to create a space away from older generations.

“It’s kind of their little place where they don’t feel like they have to be on display and they can be their true selves because they are talking to their friends,” Mr Fisher said. “Facebook, on the other hand, is so pervasive throughout all age groups that younger users feel somewhat stifled, or else not separated from their older peers.”

This is not just trending in the US and UK, but around the world, yet that does not mean that Facebook is at risk of losing its edge in the near future. The company has the capital to flex its financial muscle, leading into a larger user base, as evidenced with the acquisition of Instagram in 2012.“Facebook has the clout to buy up competitors like Instagram and, if it feels the need to tweak the various platforms to mimic some of the more popular features of those competitors,” Mr Fisher said.

For the Dubai-based digital marketer Tonic International, Facebook may be losing its edge for the younger crowd, but users over age 45 are growing. Facebook has evolved, getting away from a friend-only update atmosphere and morphing into a news and updates social network, said Ahmed Samy, Tonic’s digital performance director.

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However, he said that Tonic has noticed that the younger generation comes back to Facebook after passing teenage years as their communication needs change.

There are social media platforms available for each audience, and there is no single platform that fits all, especially when it comes to business engagement. “We still depend on Facebook because it is still the largest platform in addition to Instagram so we run our ads on both [simultaneously] to assure we have the potential accumulated reach.

“But for example, if the client's business is only targeting the under 21 years old youth, we will put more investment behind Instagram versus Facebook,” Mr Samy said.