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Usage rates for Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are running roughly in parallel between the US and UK, according to eMarketer’s latest forecasts of social network usage in those countries, with relative upstarts Instagram and Snapchat expected to rise by double digits. But social networking leader Facebook will see its user growth continue to slow in both countries as lessening usage among teens and young adults drags down overall user growth.
eMarketer has reduced its usage estimates for US monthly Facebook users ages 12 to 17 and 18 to 24. Yet for the same age groups, we have kept unchanged or adjusted higher our usage estimates for Snapchat and Instagram, suggesting younger social network users are turning away from Facebook in favor of other platforms.
Facebook’s community of monthly users in the US will grow 2.4% this year to 172.9 million people, a figure slightly higher than previously forecast due to increased adoption by older internet users.
But the social network’s monthly user base among the marketer-coveted 12 to 17 age group will fall 3.4% vs. 2016 to 14.5 million people—the second consecutive year of expected usage declines by this group and one that will have accelerated from the 1.2% slip seen in 2016.
Monthly Facebook usage among those under 12 and ages 18 to 24 will grow more slowly than previously forecast, too.
“We see teens and tweens migrating to Snapchat and Instagram. Both platforms have found success with this demographic since they are more aligned with how they communicate—that is, using visual content. Outside of those who have already left, teens and tweens remaining on Facebook seem to be less engaged—logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform,” said eMarketer senior forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco. “At the same time, we now have ‘Facebook-nevers’—children aging into the tween demographic who appear to be overlooking Facebook altogether, yet still engaging with Facebook-owned Instagram.”
eMarketer has increased its projections for Snapchat usage this year in line with reported company data. The social network’s US user base is now expected to grow 25.8% to 79.2 million monthly. Growth figures have been adjusted higher for all but the oldest age group, with the biggest upward revision made to the 18-to-24 group. That young adult cohort will see usage escalate 19.2% this year.
Similarly, monthly Instagram usage in the US will grow 23.8% in 2017, a rate higher than previously forecast, to 85.5 million. Within that figure, Instagram will expand its user base among those under 12 years old by 19.0% and those ages 12 to 17 by 8.8%.
“Facebook is fortunate that it owns Instagram, which remains a strong platform for teens,” said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “Although usage of the main Facebook app is declining among teens, marketers will still be able to reach them on Instagram.”
Even though Instagram will have more US users than Snapchat, the younger social network will beat Instagram for users ages 12 to 17 and 18 to 24. In fact, eMarketer’s latest forecast has Snapchat overtaking both Instagram and Facebook in terms of total users ages 12 to 17 and 18 to 24 for the first time in 2017. As a result, Snapchat’s share of US social network users will grow to 40.8%.
Like in the US, more than a quarter of the UK’s population will log on to Instagram at least monthly in 2017, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast of the country’s social network users. In total, 16.7 million people in the UK will use the platform each month this year, an increase of 34.8% over 2016.
Snapchat won’t be far behind, with 21.1% of the population—or 14 million people—logging on at least once per month in 2017. As with Instagram, Snapchat has enjoyed strong growth—it almost doubled its user base between 2015 and 2016, and is expected to see a further increase of 20.2% this year.
eMarketer has raised its monthly user estimates for Snapchat and Instagram since its previous forecast, as both platforms continue to attract younger users, even drawing some of them away from Facebook. However, eMarketer has also lowered its longer-term growth prospects for Snapchat to reflect Instagram’s seeming success at wooing younger users with Snapchat-like features.
Facebook, with an estimated 32.5 million monthly active users this year, will remain the most popular social network in the UK. However, as noted above, it is losing share to Snapchat and Instagram among younger age groups. Among those ages 12 to 17 and 18 to 24, Facebook’s user totals will decline by 2.8% and 3.1%, respectively, in 2017.
“Facebook is still the big winner in social media,” said Bill Fisher, eMarketer’s UK senior analyst. “But it will be slightly concerned that younger people in the UK are having their heads turned by Snapchat. Of course, Facebook’s ownership of Instagram is softening the blow, and it will be further enthused to see Instagram’s longer-term prospects looking even better than Snapchat’s.”
Twitter will have a total of 12.6 million users in the UK this year, equating to 19.0% of the population. Its user base will continue to grow slightly throughout the forecast period, beating Facebook’s by an incremental degree this year, but its rate of increase will trail Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat each year between 2018 and 2021. By 2021, 13.2 million people in the UK will use Twitter, representing 19.2% of the population.
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