Facebook Use Looks Like It’s On the Decline in the US

March 2, 2018

This article is included in these additional categories:

Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Featured | North America | Social Media | Teens & Younger | Youth & Gen X

The percentage of Americans ages 12 and older who say they use Facebook has dropped to 62% this year, marking the first decline in a decade. That’s the word from Edison Research and Triton Digital who teased this result ahead of their upcoming release of the latest Infinite Dial study.

The 62% of respondents reporting ever using Facebook use is down from 67% last year, and matches the figure from 2015. The researchers note that usage is either down or flat in each age group, gender and race/ethnicity.

This comes after a report from Forrester Research just a couple of months ago that suggested that teen usage of Facebook in the US may have peaked.

Recently, a forecast from eMarketer called for a decline in the number of Facebook users ages 12-17 and 18-24 this year for the first time. The company also predicted that not all of the 2 million Americans under the age of 24 who will abandon Facebook will migrate to Instagram. Instead, Snapchat – a darling of the youth crowd – is expected to add more users ages 12-24, and continue to outpace Instagram in that demographic, despite having fewer users overall.

A review of MarketingCharts’ own US Media Audience Demographics study confirms that Snapchat has a younger skew in its audience than Instagram. In the report, 18-24-year-olds comprised almost one-quarter (23.7%) of Snapchat’s adult (18+) audience, compared to 18.5% of Instagram’s adult audience. As for Facebook? Just 14.7% of its adult audience in the US is in the 18-24 bracket.

Now, it’s possible to dismiss the Infinite Dial, Forrester Research, and MarketingCharts results as survey data, despite the latter being based on high-quality data from a rolling survey of 25,000 US adults. And eMarketer’s forecast is just that: a forecast.

But you need look no further than Facebook’s own statements regarding declining use of its platform. In its Q4 earnings slides [pdf], Facebook reported 184 million daily active users in the US and Canada. That was down from 185 million the previous quarter.

We reviewed all of the quarterly reports back to Q4 2012 (so, for the 5 years prior to this latest edition), and this marked the first quarter with a drop in daily active users in the US and Canada. It’s safe to say it’s the first ever.

And, as Facebook’s CEO reported in the earnings call for Q4 [PDF transcript], total time spent on Facebook declined by about 5% during Q4, and newsfeed changes could result in further declines to come in some measures of engagement.

It’s worth noting that of the big tech companies in the US, only one doesn’t do well in public perception. You’ve already guessed which one. Perhaps all the fracas over fake news is beginning to have an impact?

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