There have been no shortage of headlines and thought pieces over the last four years about Facebook being on death’s door with teens, and as the logic goes, on its way to obsolescence. Teen preference is viewed as an early indicator of what will be mainstream consumer behavior down the road, so if teens aren’t using Facebook now, surely they won’t be using it as adults.
In a piece that we wrote yesterday citing teen research by brokerage firm Piper Jaffray, we noted that teens do indeed prefer both Instagram and Snapchat to Facebook. That is true for the moment, and maybe will be true in the future, but there is data in the survey that paints an anything but grim picture for the future of Facebook.
The survey polled 10,000 teens – a very big sample – and the full survey results broke out responses by age. Percentage of teens who use Facebook:
- 14-year olds – 34%
- 15-year olds – 43%
- 16-year olds – 54%
- 17-year olds – 62%
- 18-year olds – 62%
That trend is pretty clear: Older teens are more likely to use Facebook than younger teens. It probably wasn’t always true. Before Snapchat and Instagram existed, of course Facebook was probably number one with 14-year olds. It was the only show in town.
Today, Snapchat and Instagram are cooler, but older teens are indeed adopting Facebook. We touched on why that might be true back in April 2015. Here’s what we currently see happening that is driving later teen Facebook adoption, but adoption nonetheless:
“Sign in using Facebook” – this is the go to onboarding method for many apps, internet sites and messaging forums, many of which make logging in with Facebook the easiest or only login method. 54% of social sign ins are made using a Facebook account.
Dating – Facebook remains the easiest way to check out that cute girl you saw at a school dance or football game. If you like what you see online, or confirm that she doesn’t appear to have a boyfriend, sending a friend request is much less anxiety producing than asking them out on a date.
Facebook Messenger – Especially early on in a friendship, it is easier to add someone on Facebook then hit them up via Messenger than to ask for their phone number. Messenger is the preferred massaging app for lots of people.
Family – If a mom asks a teen, “Did you see the pictures of cousin Heather’s new baby?” she is probably referring to pictures posted on Facebook.
In early 2015, a Pew Research survey found that 71% of teens use Facebook. According to the data in the Piper Jaffray study, that number is now down to 52% 18 months later. That’s a big decline, but higher numbers for older teens indicate to us that Facebook, while slightly less dominant due to the number of cool alternatives, isn’t going away any time soon.
From Venture Capitalist Josh Elman:
Even if Facebook isn’t as cool as it was, it’s becoming something of a utility.
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