Twitter Overtakes Facebook as Teens’ Most Important Social Network

October 22, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Retail & E-Commerce | Social Media | Teens & Younger

PiperJaffray-American-Teens-Most-Important-Social-Network-Oct2013Some encouraging news for Twitter as it prepares for its IPO: it now ranks ahead of Facebook as teens’ most important social network, according to the latest semi-annual survey from Piper Jaffray. The study indicates that Facebook’s popularity has weakened considerably among teens: just 23% named it their most important social network, down from 33% 6 months ago and 42% a year ago. By comparison, a leading 26% of teens named Twitter their most important social network in the latest study. That’s according to data from an AFP news report, and is actually down from the Spring 2013 (30%) and Fall 2012 (27%) surveys, but still puts Twitter on top due to Facebook’s rapidly waning appeal. CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the issue during the Q2 earnings call, saying that Facebook has kept its near-saturated penetration level intact among teens. Perhaps the recent privacy changes will have an impact?

While Facebook’s status as “most important” network has weakened among teens, Instagram’s is growing quickly. In fact, Instagram is now tied with Facebook as the second-most important social network among teens, at almost double its share of respondents (12%) from the year-earlier period.

Substantially fewer teens (4%) named Tumblr their most important social network, unchanged from the previous survey, while Google+ is now preferred by only 3% of teens, from 5% in the prior survey.

It’s worth noting while Twitter may be the “most important” social network among teens, a recent study from Pew suggests that it’s not the most-used, behind Facebook by a significant margin. Nevertheless, the same Pew survey found that Twitter’s adoption rate among teens had grown by 50% in just one year. The Piper Jaffray study results also indicate that teens believe that Twitter impacts their purchases more than Facebook and Instagram.

While that’s all good news for Twitter, there are some discouraging signs for the platform, too. A newly-released Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted the week of October 11-17 found that 36% of respondents who had joined Twitter don’t use it, and 7% had closed their account. By comparison, just 7% of Facebook members had stopped using it, and only 5% had closed their account.

That the poll found a relatively high level of inactivity among Twitter users may not come as a huge surprise given recent research that has found a significant concentration of activity among a small subset of users. Indeed, the analysis, from researchers at the University of Illinois, indicated that the top 1% of Twitter users accounted for 20% of all tweets during the study period, while the top 15% of users accounted for 85% of tweets.

During the 39-day period, about one-quarter of active users tweeted a single time, and half tweeted 1-4 times. Three-quarters of users were active for 10 days or less, while just 1% of users were active each of the 39 days.

About the Data: Piper Jaffray’s “Taking Stock With Teens” survey is a semi-annual research project comprised of gathering input from approximately 8,650 teens with an average age of 16.2 years. Teen spending patterns, fashion trends, and brand and media preferences were assessed through visits to a geographically diverse subset of high schools in 13 U.S. states and through a national online survey of a wider group of teens from 37 different states. The survey is conducted in partnership with DECA, an international association of high school students. The survey was completed during the month of September 2013.

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