Social Media

Facebook slides as teens opt for Snapchat and YouTube

Fi Bendall /

Adding to Facebook’s many woes of late, a new Pew Research Center survey has found teens have abandoned the social network for its bitter rival Snapchat and YouTube.

YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are the most popular online platforms among teens

The result is not surprising as Facebook has been struggling to hold teens ever since Snapchat started to gain in popularity in the past couple of years. As Gary Vaynerchuck said all the way back at the start of 2016: “…if you’re running a business in 2016, you need to be thinking about Snapchat as a channel to grow your customer base. Period.”

That advice is probably even more valid today, especially if part of your customer base is young and female.

The survey found 51% of teens (13 to 17 years old) said they use Facebook, down 20% from Pew’s last survey in 2015. Only 10% said it was the social media site they used the most, which is a steep decline from the 41% recorded in 2015.

Worryingly for Facebook, the big mover over the past three years has been Snapchat, which has gone from being used by 41% of teens to 69%. Snapchat is now the most used site as well, with 35% saying they used it more often than other social media sites.

If there’s a silver lining of sorts for Facebook, it’s that the popularity of Instagram (which Facebook owns) has continued to grow. It’s used by a slightly higher percentage of teens (72%) than Snapchat but falls well behind Snapchat on the measure of being used most often.

YouTube was cited as the most broadly used site, with 85% of teens saying they use the video-sharing site, and 32% saying it was their most commonly used site. (Pew did not include YouTube in its 2015 survey, and there is some question as to whether it can be reasonably compared to the other social sites.)

Another interesting element of the findings is that Snapchat is far more popular among teens from higher income households, while Facebook holds sway in lower income households.

Snapchat’s rising popularity is another problem for Mark Zuckerberg to deal with, but it’s also something your business might have to ponder, especially if a significant portion of your market skews towards a younger demographic. Is your social media strategy covering all the bases required? Alternatively, do you need to start thinking about looking at new channels?

As the results of the Pew survey show, it has only taken three years for Snapchat to overtake Facebook among teens. Sure, teens can be fickle and prone to jumping from one thing to the next, but as a business, you need to stay on top of trends and adjust your social strategy accordingly.

There’s no point throwing resources into one social channel when significant numbers of your existing and potential customers are elsewhere. Make sure you’re monitoring results and exploring the possibility of diversifying into new channels. Don’t make the mistake of setting your social media strategy in stone.

NOW READ: Social media app Vero has taken flight this week: Should businesses jump on board?

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Fi Bendall

Fi Bendall is chief executive of The Female Social Network and a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence, who was described by CEO Magazine as 'The CEO's Secret Weapon'. An expert and pioneer in digital strategy, she has over 23 years’ experience in the digital and tech sectors.

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