Facebook is constantly at risk of its teen audience being swayed away from the site by exciting new apps. But it appears that its executives aren't too worried.
Researchers at GlobalWebIndex found that Facebook is only the third "coolest" social network or app, behind YouTube (20% said it was the coolest) and Instagram (16% said it was the coolest — Instagram is also owned by Facebook). Around 14% of global respondents to GlobalWebIndex's survey picked out Facebook as the coolest app, compared with 37% of all internet users.
Back in 2013, Facebook itself admitted to losing young teen users, which, at the time, immediately sent stock plummeting.
In a recent interview with Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook's vice president of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, we asked whether teens are still using Facebook as much as they once were, and whether all the new users it continues to add are millennials, or older people.
Mendelsohn responded that Facebook's new users are people of all ages. And she said she had her own "sneaky focus group": Three of her four children are teenagers, and she watches the way that they interact with the site online.
She told us: "Why are they there? Because they are their real selves. Their personal identity is absolutely crucial to them. So if you [as a teenager] want to have a night out, and see all your friends, and discuss where you’re going to go, what you’re going to wear — and I’m telling you that’s what teenagers do because I watch it quite a lot — they do it on Facebook."
Mendelsohn added: "Now, do they do other things? Of course they do, they’re teenagers. They experiment, they go to other places. They spend a lot of time on Instagram. We see a lot of young people coming on to Instagram. And, of course they use other things, that’s what teens do! But we have very high usage with teenagers on both Facebook and Instagram."
We asked whether the 2013 admittance by Facebook that usage amongst teens was declining was just an anomaly.
Mendelsohn responded: "We haven't released anything else."
There's no suggestion that millennials are leaving Facebook in their droves — but there is a growing sense that Facebook isn't as cool among young people as newer social networks and apps. An app that only your peer group is using is bound to be cooler than a site that your mom posts her photos on.
Facebook has one of the lowest shares of millennial users amongst the top social networks in the US, according to data from comScore.
But despite having the lowest share of millennial users, Facebook is still extremely influential to millennials when it comes to news. A recent Pew Research survey found millennials and Generation X overwhelmingly rely on Facebook for their political news, for example.
Facebook hasn't updated the market on its teen usage since that aforementioned 2013 earnings call. But since then it has also built out its Instagram platform, bought popular messaging app WhatsApp, and acquired virtual reality company Oculus — products that are all likely to appeal to the younger demographic.
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