Some younger teens may be leaving Facebook, but overall, teens actually became much more “reachable” on the platform in 2013, according to new research from Socialbakers.
The analytics firm found that interactions among 13-to-24 year-olds grew 29.12% “in terms of reach” in 2012. That statistic refers to the ability of various pages — including those of brands, users and sports teams — to receive interaction from users in the age group, according to Socialbakers CEO Jan Rezab. The reach among the 18-to-24-year-old group grew by the most: 39.33%. But the statistic includes a possible kernel of bad news; Facebook has admitted that growth among “younger teens” is leveling off:
In a blog post explaining the data, Rezab speculated that teens are including Facebook in their expanding media diets.
“Our data shows the growth of audience and interactions on Facebook, and while teens are undoubtedly using multiple platforms (as we all are), they are also sticking with Facebook,” he said. Rezab added that reachability is not synonymous with usage; the numbers didn’t refer to how many teens were using Facebook. Nevertheless, Rezab said it’s good news for Facebook, and he was surprised at the growth of the reachability among the group.
The figures were based on 1,847 Facebook Pages from January through December 2013. Such Pages reached a total of 960 million Facebook users, according to Socialbakers.
Teen usage of Facebook has been a hot topic since reports began surfacing that the age group was moving on to other apps like Snapchat. In its third-quarter earnings call with analysts, Facebook CFO David Ebersman also admitted that “youth usage among U.S. teens was stable overall from Q2 to Q3, but we did see a decrease in daily users partly among younger teens.”
As the reasoning goes, if teens are abandoning Facebook, the social network will miss out on new and influential users. More abstractly, a teen defection would foster the perception that Facebook is passé — and, following in the footsteps of Yahoo, an online platform with a huge but graying audience that is generally following trends rather than creating them.
Investors are watching the demo closely. Ebersman’s admission caused Facebook’s stock to fall more than 15% in after-hours trading in October. On Wednesday, during Facebook’s fourth-quarter earnings call, the company declined to discuss teens.