Facebook is still the king of social media, but different platforms are grabbing the attention of its younger generations, and advertisers have taken notice.

“Advertisers are concerned about fishing where the fish are, and as the cost of reaching younger generations on Facebook grows, they are exploring opportunities outside of Facebook,” Gil Eyal, CEO and co-founder of HyprBrands told ITBusiness.ca. “They’re leveraging social influencers, video streamers, and online content creators to reach those audiences on other platforms.”

For the first time since its creation, less than half of U.S. internet users between the ages of 12 and 17 are predicted to use Facebook at least once per year through any device, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast on social network usage. In 2018, the number of U.S. Facebook users ages 11 and younger are predicted to decline by 9.3 per cent, while users ages 12 to 17 and 18 to 24 are expected to decrease by 5.6 and 5.8 per cent, respectively. It’s the first time eMarketer has predicted a decline in those age groups, according to the report.

In total, Facebook is expected to lose approximately 2 million users ages 24 and younger this year. The overall monthly increase in users that Facebook likes to showcase during its earnings calls is mainly the result of older and international users. For 2018, eMarketer predicts the number of total Facebook users in the U.S. will reach 169.5 million, up almost one per cent from 2017.

“While Facebook’s advertising revenues are strong, they are at a constantly growing threat when it comes to younger generations,” says Eyal.

Facebook made a smart move by acquiring Instagram in 2012, allowing it to withstand the first wave of social competitors trying to penetrate the mobile photosharing market, adds Eyal, but that grace period is over.

Snapchat was the first to challenge this notion and refused to sell, prompting Facebook to respond by imitating every major feature on Snapchat and stifling its growth,” he says. “How scalable is this approach? It’s not.”

eMarketer predicts Instagram will add 1.6 million users ages 24 and younger. Snapchat will add 1.9 million users in the same age group, and will continue to have a high user base in the 12 to 24 age group compared to Instagram.

In the U.S., Instagram will continue to reign supreme with 104.7 million users in 2018, a 13 per cent jump from last year, but Snapchat will see its user base increase as well by 9.3 per cent to 86.5 million.

But outside of the main players, younger people adopted other platforms such as Musical.ly, Twitch.tv, Live.me, Line and WeChat. They viewed them as “specialized networks,” says Eyal, that captivated younger audiences who didn’t want to share the stage with their parents. Facebook is struggling to create that special network. “It would completely clutter its feed” he suggests.

“Different platforms are taking away niches the same way Craigslist saw its boards taken over by better niche providers,” he adds.

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