Facebook's Teenage Exodus, In One Chart

A marketing firm found 3 million teenagers have left Facebook in three years.

When did Facebook stop being cool? Was it when the social network let in high schoolers? Or when moms and grandmas started saturating it? Regardless, the company has been worried about teenagers leaving the world's largest social network for hipper alternatives, such as Snapchat and Tumblr. On Wednesday, a marketing firm quantified this mass exodus, finding the number of teenagers have dropped by 3 million over three years.

An iStrategyLabs report found teenage users ages 13 to 17 have declined 25% within the last three years to 9.8 million in January 2014. Meanwhile, the 55-and-older subset have taken to the social network, with more than 28 million users in that demographic, an 80% growth over the same period.

DJ Saul, who authored the report, said he pulled the publicly available data from Facebook's social advertising platform, comparing numbers across the same categories from a similar report the firm did in 2011.

"What's really happening is that the teens from our 2011 report have aged out of that demographic, and today’s teens are adopting it in far fewer numbers," Saul told Fast Company. In contrast, networks like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat "are parents-free—sort of," he notes.

Use among high school students is also down 59% to 3 million users from 7.3 million in 2011. Facebook's bread and butter, college students, aren't sticking to the network either, with user numbers declining 59% to 4.8 million users from 11.7 million. However, with early adopters graduating, the alumni base has grown 64.6%, from 36.4 million to 60 million.

[Image: Flickr user jeremytarling]

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7 Comments

  • Why call it an exodus? A large part of that drop is due to teens growing up to not being teens anymore. I would like to see the retention figures of those teens turned not teens. I would also like to see how many new teens have joined yearly. I think those numbers are far more important and would probably tell us a story of teens not joining in the first place rather than an exodus of past users. That being said, Facebook is indeed losing its appeal to young teens who wish to remain on separate networks from their parents, teachers etc.

  • There are less teenagers in the United States overall than there were a few years ago. There are also less in the college demographic as well. Of course less people use Facebook because there are less people in that age-group.

    I would like to see this data "as a percentage" for the birth cohort.

  • Alexander Mansilya-Kruz

    OK, now Ms Truong should not be allowed near business media ever again. The table (NOT a chart!) does not show "teenagers leaving". It clearly shows teenagers growing up. And, well, new teenagers not joining quite as much as before. In case these two rocket-science ideas are too hard to grasp from (helpfully highlighted) numbers, Mr Saul has spelled it out in plain English. But no, Ms Truong knew better. Oops.

  • Beth Woodruff Kane

    But who do advertisers care more about? I would guess the folks with deeper pockets, cool or not.