Snapchat Is Stealing Teens From Facebook, But It Probably Doesn't Matter

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Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) number of US monthly users will grow 2.4% this year, but the social networking giant has lost some appeal with younger users, according to eMarketer estimates. In fact, eMarketer believes that Snapchat will be bigger than both Facebook and Instagram in the 12- to 17-year-old and 18- to 24-year-old categories by the end of the year. Snapchat is probably more than just a flash in the pan, Wieser argued, but as users grow older, they may find themselves using the disappearing message app less and less, while moving back to Facebook.

Snapchat has also overtaken Facebook in the coveted 13-24 age group based on one specific metric used by advertisers to make ad-buying decisions.

Facebook, on the other hand, is still facing a teen problem, which started some four years ago when the social networking giant announced that its teen audience was decreasing.

By contrast, researchers expect Snapchat's share of the USA social network market will expand to 40.8 percent. Its use by 12- to 17-year-oldds will decline this year by 3.4 percent. eMarketer notes this is the first time it has ever predicted a decline on Facebook for any age group.

Across all age groups, more than a quarter of the United Kingdom population will log on to Instagram at least once a month by the end of 2017 meaning in total 16.7 million people will be regular Instagram users; an increase of 35% on 2016. However, taken together, these data suggest that Facebook's repeated copying of Snapchat features - such as selfie masks and 24-hour "stories" - has not had a significant impact on young users' loyalty.

"Facebook is fortunate that it owns Instagram, which remains a strong platform for teens", said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson in a statement.

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Snapchat usage is expected to increase this year, with the U.S. user base to grow 5.8% to 79.2 million monthly.

"Teens and tweens remaining on Facebook seem to be less engaged -- logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform", Orozco said.

Instead, teens are moving towards photo-sharing apps, including Snapchat and Instagram - which is owned by Facebook.

eMarkter sees gains coming for both Snapchat and Instagram.

"Facebook is still the big victor in social media", said Bill Fisher, UK senior analyst at eMarketer. "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".

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