Snapchat might overtake Facebook and Instagram when it comes to adding users in the 12-17 and 18-24 age groups this year, according to research firm eMarketer. The research firm claims that Snapchat’s share of U.S. social network users is expected to grow by up to 40.8%, an increase from 31.6% in the previous year.

Facebook, Instagram
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Facebook and Instagram less popular among teens

Oscar Orozco, a senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer, stated that teens present on Facebook seem to be less engaged and log in less frequently. Further, the analyst stated that both Snapchat and Instagram are popular among teens, who can relate more to platforms offering visual content as the main mode of communication.

Facebook, on the other hand, is still facing a teen problem, which started some four years ago when the social networking giant announced that its teen audience was decreasing. Facebook undoubtedly is the largest social networking website with over 2 billion users, but the younger generation does not find it that interesting, according to Orozco. He believes the main task for the company should be to attract younger users to the platform and retain them.

In this regard, Facebook is fortunate to have Instagram, which is popular among teens, says eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. Further, the report stated that Instagram is expected to record growth of 23.8% this year, as the number of its monthly users under the age of 12 is expected to surge 19%, while the number of those in the 12-17 age group is expected to increase 8.8%.

According to eMarketer, Facebook’s loss of monthly users between the ages of 12 and 17 will accelerate to 3.4% this year from 1.2% in 2016. Overall, the number of monthly Facebook users will increase by about 2.4% this year to 172.9 million in the United States due to “increased adoption by older internet users,” the research firm says.

Good news for Snapchat investors

Snapchat’s ability to reach the 13-24 age group can attract advertisers like movie studios and retailers conducting flash sales. This comes as good news for investors, who have been a little hesitant since the IPO, citing the company’s not-so-encouraging growth prospects. On the other hand, Facebook is enjoying investors’ confidence, with its shares up 36% so far this year as it has posted better-than-expected revenue.

Facebook and Instagram have been copying some of the most popular features of Snapchat, such as selfie masks and 24-hour “stories.” However, recent data suggests that mirroring these features has not harmed the Snapchat user base in any way, as teens remain loyal to the social network. Earlier this month, Snap stated that there had been a 33% increase in time spent on its app among the under-25 age group.

Williamson states that Snapchat is a sticky platform for teens and young adults. It is something that they engage with many times a day.

“They also like that Snapchat is a bit hard for older folks to figure out. It’s kind of their little place where they don’t feel like they have to be on display and they can be their true selves because they are talking to their friends,” said Williamson.

Williamson feels that while this shift of loyalty from Facebook to Snapchat has been going on for years, it is certain now that this has become a phenomenon.