A recent report by eMarketer, a New York-based market research company specializing in digital marketing, media and commerce, revealed that younger users are being pulled from Facebook to Snapchat at an even faster pace than they're being siphoned off by Instagram.
The firm predicts that the number of Facebook users between the ages of 12 and 17 will decrease by 5.6 percent in 2018. For the first time in Facebook history, this year, less than half of all US internet users that fall in that age category are predicted to use Facebook at least once a month.
It's not just teens that are losing interest in Facebook: the website is predicted to lose 2 million users who are 24 or younger in 2018, while Snapchat is expected to gain 1.9 million users from the same age group.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is still leading the race in the social media world. Although it is more popular in the US than Snapchat, eMarketer expects Instagram to gain 1.6 million users in the 24-and-younger age group this year — less than the number of new users Snapchat will add.
According to Debra Aho Williamson, a principal analyst at eMarketer, younger users are drawn to Snapchat because of fun posts that disappear after some time.
"[It's] less likely that you're going to go, ‘Oh gosh, a year ago I sent that or posted that? Ew,'" she said. "Whereas on Facebook, people of older generations, that doesn't necessarily matter to them. They like that posterity."
"Snapchat could eventually experience more growth in older age groups since it's redesigning its platform to be easier to use," Williamson also added.
The number of Facebook users is supposed to reach 170 million people in the US in 2018, a less than 1 percent increase from 2017, eMarketer reports. Out of all Facebook users, those in the 55-and-older age group make up 22.5 percent. So even with all the Snapchat hype, Facebook's user base is still increasing thanks to older folks.
According to Molly Lynch, founder of Lynch Communications Group and a social media professor at DePaul University's College of Communications, businesses that advertise on social media need to start thinking about their target audiences.
"Right now, Facebook won't go away," she said. "It just won't be as cool to certain age groups."