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After 15 years, Facebook still remains one of the most used social media platforms in the U.S., ranking second in platform usage right after YouTube. According to Pew Research, about 69% of U.S. adults use Facebook, but what about the younger generations? Is Facebook dead to Gen Z and Millennials?
Has Usage Declined?
According to Edison Research’s Infinite Dial Study from early 2019, 62% of U.S. 12-34-year-olds are Facebook users. This number has decreased from 67% in 2018 and 79% in 2017. In a Sprout Social article on social media demographics for brand strategy, they note that a mere 51% of 13-17-year-olds and 76% of 18-24-year-olds are using Facebook. As Medium notes, this decrease in consumption amongst younger demographics is significant due to the face that usage amongst the 35-54 and 55+ age groups has remained constant or increased in the same time frame.
In a report from 5W Public Relations, they found that Facebook was the most popular network among Millennials, as 77% of them indicated that they’re active on the platform. However, it’s important to note that while these Millennials report logging into Facebook daily, it doesn’t say much about what app they spend the most time using.
Facebook Usage vs. Other Platforms
Over the years, the usage of Facebook among teens has dropped in favor of YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and now TikTok. According to Statista, 35% of U.S. teens rate Instagram as their favorite social networking site, second to Snapchat. Sprout Social notes that 75% of 18-24-year-olds are using Instagram. Appealing more to younger users, Snapchat was rated the top social network by 41% of teens and is used by 73% of 18-24-year-olds. These numbers range even higher for YouTube, as 90% of 18-24-year-olds report using YouTube, sometimes even several times a day.
Diving deeper into the question of whether Facebook is dead or not, TechCrunch conducted a survey that found 59% of Gen Z-ers are using Facebook every day whereas 32% choose to use the app on a weekly basis. This is compared to 82% of Gen Z-ers who reported that they use Instagram daily and 7% reporting that they use the Insta app weekly.
According to Business Insider, here are the social media platforms that Gen Z checks on a daily basis for further comparison:
Among social media experts, there are many theories for why Facebook has lost its touch with Millennials and Gen Z. With older users changing the dynamics of the platform, competition from more mobile and visual-friendly platforms like Instagram, and the company’s privacy scandals in the media are a few reasons for the belief that Facebook is dead among younger demographics.
When it comes to younger consumers, it seems like Facebook is struggling to appeal to a market that is just starting out on social media. Specifically, most teens and young adults surveyed said that Facebook had become “boring” or “outdated” and felt that they couldn’t use the platform freely because it was full of family members.
In fact, according to Medium, 66% of 18-24-year-olds have reported using Facebook less frequently and reported using it for different reasons than they have in the past.
Has Facebook’s Role Changed?
For more than a decade, Facebook has been a must-have for many internet users because it serves as a key connector to family and friends. When it first gained traction, many people used the platform to reconnect with friends, classmates, and family that they had lost touch with. When Millennials and older members of Generation Z used Facebook in the early/mid-2010s, they used the website to post content on their friends’ Walls and to post daily statuses or photos. Today, very few Millennials and Gen Z-ers use Facebook to post content when it isn’t for special occasions or announcements. As Medium reports, only 5% of 18-24-year-olds claim that they regularly upload photos to Facebook, 4% post on their friends’ walls, and 3.5% post statuses. Here’s what they’re using Facebook for instead:
- Coordinating events
- Browsing their Newsfeed
- Looking up information (ex: birthdays)
- Joining Groups
- Private messaging friends
Many experts believe that these changes in usage could be problematic for Facebook for the following reasons:
- Users are naturally going to open the app less often when they aren’t posting content because they will no longer be driven by checking likes or responses on their posts.
- People will gradually find another platform to message their friends when they find themselves not spending time on the Facebook app.
- If users find their friends are posting less, they will start seeing less relevant content on their Newsfeeds, driving them to spend more time on other platforms.
So, where does Facebook go from here? Is Facebook officially dead to the younger generation of consumers? Maybe not. Facebook is continually conducting research on Generation Z to further discover how they can connect with a younger market. Facebook also has an advantage over other social media sites by featuring tools for group conversation, event organizing, and information searches, which apps like TikTok and Instagram don’t offer. If an app will come along to truly replace Facebook, it needs the ability to do it all; it can’t just rely on video-sharing or photo-sharing features. For now, it’s up to Facebook to allocate its resources to develop new ideas that further set it apart from the competition and make it more attractive to a younger audience.