Is Facebook losing its cool factor? That seems to be the sad truth as the social media giant lost around 2.8 million young users last year.
eMarketer's 2017 forecast stated that for the first time ever, Facebook would see a drop in users. The research firm estimated that there would be a 3.4 percent drop in US users aged 12 to 17 years old. However, the reality turned out to be much worse, as that young demographic actually saw a 9.9 percent decline in users. That's about 1.4 million people.
Based on eMarketer's final numbers, around 2.8 million US users under 25 left or stopped using Facebook in 2017. Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues can expect to experience the same thing this year. According to eMarketer, the company should brace itself to lose an estimated 2.1 million users under 25 in 2018.
There are a number of reasons why there's an exodus of young people from the popular social media platform. One of the main arguments seems to be that Facebook is becoming increasingly uncool. This could be due to parents of these young users also being on the platform. For most of them, Facebook has become a means for their parents or the older generation to keep tabs on the young ones.
Karin von Abrams, an analyst at eMarketer, said that they did expect young social media users to lose interest in Facebook since they want “something beyond utility,” like exclusivity and novelty. Some have even pointed out the younger generation's affinity for more visual content as the reason for their dissatisfaction with the platform.
So where's the younger generation hanging out? While Instagram remains popular among this group, it's quickly losing ground to Snapchat. According to eMarketer's senior analyst in the UK, Bill Fisher, “there are now some early signs that younger social networkers are being swayed by Snapchat.”
The challenge now for Snapchat, and Instagram as well, is how they can capture the interest of users “beyond that core youth demographic.”
Despite the loss of young users, there's no danger of Facebook closing up shop. eMarketer also revealed a rise of about 3.6 million in new users in the 35 and up age group in the US and UK. But the largest growth is expected to be among older users or those over 55, with 500,000 people in that age group predicted to join Facebook.
This surge is probably due to the fact that mature users tend to adopt technology slower. And if teens are wary of their parents being on the same social media platform as they are, a lot of older users are signing up so they can keep up with what's happening in the lives of their children and grandchildren.