Snapchat and Instagram are beating Facebook in younger user growth

Are Facebook users leaving the platform in favour of Snapchat and Instagram? According to the latest eMarketer forecast, Facebook user growth in the US and UK is likely to slow down, whilst Instagram and Snapchat user growth may pick up.

The forecasting company reduced its Facebook usage estimates in the US for users aged 12-17 years and 18-24 years. However, predictions of Snapchat and Instagram usage for the same age groups have remained unchanged.

For 2017, Facebook monthly users in the US are expected to grow 2.4% to 173 million people. Although that figure is slightly above previous forecasts, it is largely driven by older social media users. It appears that younger audiences are shifting their social media preferences. Indeed, usage among 12-17 year-olds is predicted to drop 3.4% to 14.5 million – an acceleration from the 1.2% drop in 2016.

In addition, Facebook usage among the 18-24 year-olds will be increasing more slowly.

Oscar Orozco, a senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer, explains that teens are migrating to Snapchat and Instagram.

“Both platforms have found success with this demographic since they are more aligned with how they communicate – that is, using visual content. Outside of those who have already left, teens and tweens remaining on Facebook seem to be less engaged – logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform. At the same time, we now have ‘Facebook-nevers’ – children aging into the tween demographic who appear to be overlooking Facebook altogether, yet still engaging with Facebook-owned Instagram.”

Overall, Snapchat usage is likely to increase a whopping 25.8% to 79.2 million users a month. This is largely driven by the 18-24-year-olds (usage at 19.2% in 2017).

Meanwhile, Instagram usage in the US will increase by 23.8% in 2017 to 85.5 million users. Among the boost in usage, 12 year-old audience segments will grow by 19% and 12-17 year-olds by 8.8%.

“Facebook is fortunate that it owns Instagram, which remains a strong platform for teens,” said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “Although usage of the main Facebook app is declining among teens, marketers will still be able to reach them on Instagram.”

Overall, Instagram will have slightly more US users than Snapchat. However, Snapchat beats Instagram in the teen and young adults age range.

According to eMarketer, Snapchat will overtake both Instagram and Facebook in terms of 12-24 year-olds this year, growing its US social network users by almost 41%.

Instagram is also performing strongly in the UK, where the platform will note a 34.8% growth over 2016 in monthly users this year.

Similarly, Snapchat will grow 21.1% this year in the UK.

Facebook has been estimated to reach 32.5 million monthly users in the UK this year. However, it is losing share to Snapchat and Instagram within the younger segment.

Bill Fisher, senior analyst for the UK for eMarketer says:

“Facebook is still the big winner in social media. But it will be slightly concerned that younger people in the UK are having their heads turned by Snapchat. Of course, Facebook’s ownership of Instagram is softening the blow, and it will be further enthused to see Instagram’s longer-term prospects looking even better than Snapchat’s.”

Interestingly, eMarketer also added a forecast for Twitter stating that it would reach 12.6 million users in the UK in 2017. That’s 19% of the population. Overall, the networks audience growth trails that of its competitors slightly.

By 2021, around 13.2 million people in the UK will be using Twitter – 19.2% of the population.