US teens ditching Facebook for Instagram

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10 October 2014 | 0

Teenage users have been drifting away from Facebook for the last few years, but now it seems they’re in a mad rush to get off the world’s largest social network.

A study by investment bank Piper Jaffray about teen behaviour on everything from online shopping to social media use shows that Facebook is a distant third when it comes to teens’ favourite social networks.

After surveying 7,200 US teenagers with an average age of 16, Piper Jaffray found that about 80% cited Instagram as their favourite social site, 65% said they like Twitter and about 40% said they use Facebook.

Tumblr was fourth with about 25% and Pinterest rounded out the top five with about 20%. Facebook rival Google+ was cited by fewer than 10% of respondents

The survey also showed a major exodus during the past six months or so: 45% this fall said they use Facebook – a big drop from 72% who said that in the spring. (By contrast, 76% of teenagers said they use Instagram now compared to 69% in the spring.)

Struggle
Late last year, a company executive, speaking during Facebook’s quarterly earnings call, admitted that the social network was struggling to keep teenagers’ attention. “We did see a decrease in [teenage] daily users [during the quarter], especially younger teens,” said David Ebersman, Facebook’s chief financial officer at the time. He went on to call the network’s teen user base “stable.”

Although Facebook has more than 1 billion users around the planet, losing younger users is a growing problem.

Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner, Inc. doesn’t see the situation as dire.

“While this isn’t the best news for Facebook, it’s also not a sign of impending failure either,” he said. “Facebook has and will in the future offer many types of online social experiences. Their apps and platform today is used by a very wide variety of people and businesses, and they will continue to grow as they help offline users around the world come online.”

The company, which already owns teen-favourite Instagram, has taken steps to draw those younger users back, even if it’s not directly to Facebook’s own site.

In February, Facebook bought WhatsApp, a popular mobile messaging app, and in June, it took direct aim at social competitor Snapchat by launching Slingshot, its own mobile app.

Both WhatsApp and Slingshot are aimed at the younger market.

Earlier this year, Facebook inked a deal to acquire Oculus VR, a company that makes virtual reality gaming glasses. Analysts immediately noted that the company had spent $2 billion to lureback some of its lost teenage user.

Sharon Gaudin, Computerworld

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