It may have started as an exclusive network for college students, but the transition has been completed: Facebook is for old people.
According to a report from eMarketer, 2.2 million 12- to 17-year-olds and 4.5 million 18- to 24-year-olds will use Facebook in the UK this year. That figure is 700,00 fewer than in 2017.
This drop, along with an influx of older users, means that over-55s will become the second-largest demographic of Facebook users this year.
500,000 new over-55s are expected to join Facebook this year. There will be 6.4 million 55- to 65-year-old-plus regular Facebook users this year, the biggest demographic save for 16- to 34-year-olds.
“There are a couple of factors at play here,” noted Ampere analyst Richard Broughton. “One is that older people tend to be late to the internet party, but adoption tends to find its way through the demographics eventually. And with Facebook’s video and photo experience it is a platform they want to be on to keep up with the social lives of their kids and grandchildren.”
However it’s not all doom and gloom as far as Facebook’s youth appeal goes. While younger users may be fleeing from the main Facebook brand, they are largely shifting to services such as Instagram and WhatsApp which are owned by Facebook. Some though are entirely abandoning Facebook for rival services like Snapchat and Twitter.
eMarketer UK senior analyst Bill Fisher was very matter of fact: "Facebook has a teen problem.
"This latest forecast indicates that it is more than just a theory. Until now it has been able to rely on platform shifters being hoovered up by Instagram. However, leading the charge for younger audiences is Snapchat. There are now some early signs that younger social network users are being swayed by Snapchat.”
According to Fisher, Snapchat’s user-ship has more than doubled among UK social networking users to 43 per cent.
Facebook UK users 2018 v 2017
Age 12 to 17 2.2m, down 300,000
Age 18 to 24 4.5m, down 400,000
Age 25 to 34 7.2m, flat
Age 35 to 44 5.9m, flat
Age 45 to 54 5.6m, up 100,000 users
Age 55 to 64 3.5m, up 200,000 users
Age 65-plus 2.9m, up 300,000 users