Facebook is losing teens — but there's a catch

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer

Teens are losing interest in Facebook. But they’re spending more and more of their time on Snapchat and Instagram.

In fact, less than half of all teens use Facebook (FB). Only 45% of teens use Facebook monthly (down from 51% in spring of this year), according to a new teen survey from Piper Jaffray.

But, this decline in Facebook engagement is offset by teens’ love of Instagram, which Facebook acquired in 2012.

Forty seven percent of teens call Snapchat (SNAP) their favorite social platform, which represents a 7.4% quarter-over-quarter increase. Instagram came in second place, with 24% calling it their favorite.

Source: Piper Jaffray

Instagram v. Snapchat 

Some argue that Instagram poses an existential threat to Snapchat. The former boasts 800 million users, 500 of whom use the app daily. Meanwhle, Snapchat has 300 million users, with 173 snapping daily.

”Instagram and Snapchat have extremely high user overlap, but Instagram is a better channel for branding, has better ad units, and stronger advertiser engagement,” Piper Jaffray analysts point out in the report.

However, the narrative that Instagram’s move into ephemeral photos and videos with Instagram stories would kill Snapchat engagement is greatly exaggerated. Ultimately, it hasn’t impacted how engaged teens are with Snapchat, according to the survey.

“Snap pitches itself as having unique access to a hard-to-reach demographic, but our survey suggests its user base is nearly identical to Instagram,” Piper Jaffray analysts said.

Source: Piper Jaffray

Teens have been ditching Facebook for years now, but given Instagram’s success, perhaps the company doesn’t feel the urgency to lure them back.

Facebook CFO David Ebersman first acknowledged Facebook was seeing a decrease in daily users, specifically younger teens. during the company’s 2013 third-quarter conference call. Zuckerberg had vehemently denied the claim the prior quarter.

Piper Jaffray spoke with 6,100 teens across 44 states in the U.S. with an average age of 15.9 years for its 34th semi-annual “Taking Stock With Teens Fall survey. Geographically, the firm received the most responses from the South (45%) and Midwest (32%) with the balance from the West & Northeast.