Snapchat is defying the pundits and poaching users from Facebook, according to new research.
The latest forecast on social network usage from eMarketer shows Facebook is losing younger users at an even faster pace than previously expected.
This year, for the first time, less than half of US internet users ages 12 to 17 will use Facebook via any device at least once per month.
Facebook is still adding monthly users overall, but mainly in older age-groups – and will lose 2 million users aged under 24 this year, eMarketer estimates.
The number of total Facebook users in the US will reach 169.5 million this year, up just under 1% from 2017.
However, in 2018, the number of US Facebook users aged 11 and younger is set to drop by 9.3%, while the number of users aged 12-17 and 18-24 will fall by 5.6% and 5.8%, respectively.
It’s the first time eMarketer has predicted a decline in the number of US Facebook users in those age-groups.
The research predicts Snapchat will add 1.9 million users under 24, compared with 1.6 million for Instagram, and will continue to have more users ages 12 to 24.
Instagram still bigger
Instagram – owned by Facebook – is still expected to be bigger overall in the US than Snapchat, however. The number of Instagram users will rise to 104.7 million in 2018, a 13.1% year-on-year increase.
Snapchat, meanwhile, will see its user base increase by 9.3% to 86.5 million.
Snap’s shares soared 30% last week after it revealed better-than-expected financial results and continued steady growth in its global user base, up from 178 million in the third quarter to 187 million in Q4.
The company is trying to boost Snapchat’s appeal in older age-groups by redesigning the platform and making it easier to use.
“The question will be whether younger users will still find Snapchat cool if more of their parents and grandparents are on it. That’s the predicament Facebook is in,” said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson.