Two large recent studies of teens show a very interesting trend. While Facebook may still be in the number one position, and likely will remain there for the foreseeable future, both Twitter and Instagram are attracting teens in large numbers. The Piper Jaffray Semi-Annual “Taking Stock with Teens” Market Research Project and, the Pew Internet and American Life study of “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy” both show alarming trends for Facebook, albeit for different reasons.
It’s important to note that while the Piper Jaffray results were just announced this month, the Pew results were announced last May (’13). I still felt like it made a lot of sense to look at them together. They definitely seem to represent some important trends in teen social media behavior.
Piper Jaffray looks specifically at buying behavior. Pew takes a more general, sociological look at how and where teens are sharing on social media sites. It’s no secret that trying (and I emphasize trying) to understand teen behavior is important for a number of reasons. The most important of these is probably the fact that they’re the future of our country. I think that’s an important one. Teens also set trends and have enormous buying power. Brands spend lots of money trying to figure out how to reach teens and to establish relationships with them. The political establishment would be smart to take note too, as in just a few years many of them will be voters.
So, how does all of this relate specifically to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? The most important line from Piper Jaffray is probably this,
“More than half of teens indicate that social media impacts their purchases with Twitter being the most important, eclipsing Facebook followed closely by Instagram.”
Now, we’re just talking about purchases here, but what teen doesn’t take their purchases, and the purchases of their peers, very seriously? It’s also worth noting that Instagram didn’t even gain popularity among the general population until 2012. None of this looks good for Facebook. Go Twitter.
I thought the Pew findings were even more interesting. Although 94 percent (that’s huge) of teens still have a Facebook account, more and more they seem to be jumping ship for Twitter and Instagram because of what Pew found as “increasing adult presence, people sharing excessively, and stressful ‘drama.’” on Facebook. Wait … excessive sharing and stressful drama on Facebook? I’m shocked.
Even more telling from Pew were the Twitter- and Instagram-specific findings. Teen Twitter use increased from 16 percent in 2011 to 24 percent in 2012, while Instagram took 11 percent of the teen social media market share last year. Facebook usage stayed consistent, increasing ever-so-slightly from 93 percent to 94 percent in 2012.
The Pew report never states that teens are leaving Facebook altogether, simply that their interest in maintaining an active presence there is declining. However, this when combined with the Piper Jaffray results, all spell out what should be a clear warning message for Facebook. When you’re losing teens, who should be your base for years to come, let’s just say, “you’ve been warned.”
Shades of MySpace?
PHOTO CREDIT: latimes.com