Instagram, Snapchat to see strong United Kingdom user growth in 2017 - research


Marketers targeting younger consumers should note the fledgling flock's migration away from Facebook.

Teenagers are going on Facebook less and less, so much so that an analysis group predicts a 3.4 percent drop in users ages 12 to 17 in comparison to 2016. The decline is almost triple the percentage in 2016, when those user numbers fell 1.2 percent.

Still, young people losing interest in Facebook itself is a troubling development, since brand affinity is often built during those formative years.

EMarketer predicted Snapchat's USA userbase would grow 25.8%, and its United Kingdom base by 20.2% in 2017. It's the first time the research company has predicted a fall in Facebook usage for any age group. Its user base will continue to grow slightly throughout the forecast period, but will trail far behind Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat's share.

Snapchat usage is expected to increase this year, with the USA user base to grow 5.8% to 79.2 million monthly. In 2020, Facebook might grow 1.8 percent, Instagram 7.1 percent and Snapchat 4.6 percent. That's 20.2 percent more than in 2016. The eMarketer report attributes Facebook's overall user uptick to "increased adoption by older internet users". The silver lining, of course, is that teens are flocking to Instagram, which Facebook also owns.

Snapchat and Instagram, Orozco added, have found success with younger demographics partially because they are more aligned with how they communicate-that is, using visual content.

"We see teens and tweens migrating to Snapchat and Instagram", said eMarketer analyst Oscar Orozco. "At the same time, we now have Facebook-nevers, many children aging into the tween demographic that appear to be overlooking Facebook altogether, yet still engaging with Facebook-owned Instagram".

"Instagram is several times the size of Snap's audience, so I'm not sure if Facebook really cares if teens are spending time on Facebook or Instagram, as long as their generating advertising revenue", said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research. Facebook and Snapchat could not be reached for comment.

While Snapchat is also expected to have more 18- to 24-year-old users than Facebook - Snap's 24.4 million compares favourably with its larger rival's 23.5 million this year - Instagram is also a significant player, with 22.1 million users in the age bracket, according to eMarketer. As a result, Snapchat's share of USA social network users will grow to 40.8 percent. It has been nearly four years since Facebook first hinted on a company earnings call that the social giant's teen audience was decreasing.

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