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Facebook’s teen problem isn’t going away

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer

Facebook is mired in controversy surrounding how it shared consumer data to third-party data providers, with high-profile CEOs and celebrities leading the movement to #DeleteFacebook.

Despite this heated backlash against the company, Facebook (FB) doesn’t have to worry about one group of users — teenagers, more than half of whom aren’t using the platform at all anyway.

Forty-five percent of teens indicated they have used Facebook in the past month, which is unchanged from Piper Jaffray’s fall survey on teens. But a decrease from the 51% who said they used Facebook monthly one year ago.

Snapchat is teens’ favorite social media platform. But they remain uninterested in Facebook.

Teens have been ditching Facebook for years now, but given Instagram’s success, perhaps the company doesn’t feel the urgency to lure them back. Facebook has been the parent company of Instagram since 2012.

Facebook CFO David Ebersman first acknowledged Facebook was seeing a decrease in daily users, specifically younger teens. during the company’s 2013 third-quarter conference call. Zuckerberg had vehemently denied the claim the prior quarter.

Snapchat remains No. 1

Snapchat (SNAP) remains teens’ favorite platform, but Instagram enhanced its lead as the best platform for brands to reach them.

Eighty-two percent of teens indicated they have used Instagram in the past month, according to the Piper Jaffray survey, a slight increase from 81% in the fall 2017 survey.

“We are encouraged by Instagram’s consistent strong showing and rising engagement, reflecting a strong defensive positive vs. Snapchat’s presence as teens’ favorite platform (though by a shrinking margin),” writes analyst Sam Kemp in the report.

Sixty-five percent of those surveyed indicated they believe Instagram is a good channel for brands and retailers to reach them, which is three times higher than Facebook at 22%.

Instagram v. Snapchat

Some argue that Instagram poses an existential threat to Snapchat. The former last reported having 800 million users, 500 million of whom use the app daily. Meanwhile, Snapchat has 300 million users, with 181 million snapping daily.

Forty-five percent of teens call Snapchat their favorite social platform, down 2 percentage points from the fall survey’s results. Instagram came in second place, with 26% calling it their favorite. Twitter has rebounded with 9% calling it their favorite platform (up from 7% in the fall).

”Instagram and Snapchat have extremely high user overlap, but Instagram is a better channel for branding, has better ad units, and stronger advertiser engagement,” Piper Jaffray analysts point out in the report.

The narrative that Instagram’s move into ephemeral photos and videos with Instagram stories would kill Snapchat engagement is greatly exaggerated among teens. However, Snap shouldn’t be resting on its incumbent position, according to Kemp.

“Snap pitches itself as having unique access to a hard-to-reach demographic, but our survey suggests its user base is nearly identical to Instagram,” Kemp writes.

Piper Jaffray spoke with 6,000 teens across 40 states in the U.S. with an average age of 16.4 years for its 35th semi-annual “Taking Stock With Teens” survey.

Melody Hahm is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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