Have Teens Abandoned Facebook?

Posted on Jun 22, 2018

If you’ve followed the headlines over the last few years, you know this is not the first time the world has held a funeral for Facebook’s teen demographic. Fortunately for the platform, those losses were always relative, and in 2015 a majority of teens still used Facebook as a primary social media hub

But that was then, and with the latest versions of two major studies showing that the site is about to dip below the 50 percent majority line for teens aged 13-17, it seems the forecasted decline is finally in full swing.

Facebook’s Teen Majority Slips Away

In Pew’s 2015 survey of teens and social media, a full 71 percent of the demographic said they used Facebook, with 41 percent saying it was the social site they used most often. In 2018 those numbers have taken a sharp dive, and for the first time only a bare majority of 51 percent of teens said they maintain an active profile, while only 10 percent indicated they use it as their primary social platform.

Other analyses have followed suit, and while eMarketer predicted a 3.5 percent decline in teen users from 2017 to 2018, their latest findings say the exodus has actually been much quicker, with nearly 10 percent of teens expected to abandon the platform through 2018.

While we’ve been hearing about Facebook’s doom since a 13-year-old’s revelation that “none of my friends use Facebook” rocked the media world five years ago, it seems the hype is now reality.

But is this really the end for the platform’s future, and what does it all mean for marketing and advertising?

The Demographic Shifts, but Opportunity Remains

For marketing efforts, we think the key indicator here isn’t the percentage of teens who’ve abandoned Facebook, it’s the opportunities presented by those who remain.

Dig a bit deeper into the numbers and it’s immediately clear that the evacuation, while real, is anything but universal among teens. Some of the differences are minor—like 4 percent more girls sticking with the platform compared to boys—but many are significant, and seem likely to become determinative factors for calibrating marketing campaigns.

Household income and education levels are the key differentiators, as only 36 percent of teens from households making $75k or more annually say they use Facebook, while 70 percent of teens from households making under $30k are sticking with the site.

Similarly, only 33 percent of teens with parents who graduated college said they remain on the platform, compared to 65 percent of teens whose parents only graduated (or didn’t) from high school. Meanwhile, 10 percent more African American and Hispanic teens use the platform compared to their Caucasian peers.

XenoPsi Charts a Path

All told, advertising intended for the upper end of income and education curves may face struggles on the platform among the country’s younger users, but for most other demographics the Facebook marketing landscape seems as promising as it ever was.

Ultimately, we think this process is likely to boost our efforts to make an impact on the platform, as inactive teen users give way to highly engaged loyalists. We plan to continue finding innovative ways to tap into that community momentum and deliver compelling brand experiences.

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