Facebook may be the dominant social network, but its popularity seems to be waning as users connect with friends on a wider variety of sites and apps, according to recent studies.
On average, Facebook (FB) users spent 11.7 hours on its site or mobile app in the month of March, according to user metrics from comScore. That includes occasional Facebook users and those who are on the site for several hours a day. Tumblr ranks a distant second, with its users spending an average of 2.3 hours total in March on its site and app. Twitter ranked third at 2.1 hours.
Tumblr CEO David Karp challenged Facebook at an industry conference last month, claiming that Tumblr's users spent a minute and a half longer per visit on his social network. But according to comScore’s data, the average Facebook visit lasted 22.4 minutes in March while the average Tumblr visit lasted 14.7 minutes.
The number of Facebook competitors is growing, however, and the company could feel even fiercer competitive pressure in the next several years, said Eric Sheridan, Internet analyst at UBS Securities.
"There's a whole host of opportunities to interact with your friends and family in other means other than just on Facebook," Sheridan said, adding that he doesn't expect any competitor over the next two quarters to beat out Facebook on the amount of time users spend on the social network.
Yet users between ages 12 and 25 are continuing to move to platforms that they consider relevant and cool, Sheridan told "Big Data Download."
And teens specifically want a break from their parents, according to Pew Research. About 70 percent of teens on Facebook are friends with their parents on the site, and many are seeking social networks free from adults, Pew researchers found.
Social networks like Snapchat and WhatsApp are also gaining popularity among the younger set, Sheridan said.
Aside from competition for users, Facebook could also see increased competition as social networks fight for share of companies' advertising budgets, Sheridan said.
Despite facing longer-term competitive pressure, the current risk-reward profile for the company is balanced, Sheridan wrote in a research note early this month. Facebook reported strong first quarter results, wrote Sheridan, who raised his full-year revenue expectations by 1 percent to $6.63 billion on strong advertising revenue.
The analyst has a neutral rating on the stock, but according to Zacks Investment Research, 17 analysts say Facebook is a strong buy vs. 11 who give it a hold rating.
-- Neither Sheridan nor UBS AG owns shares of Facebook.
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