Here’s the specific nugget that Facebook tried to somewhat keep under wraps:
“We believe that some of our users, particularly our younger users, are aware of and actively engaging with other products and services similar to, or as a substitute for, Facebook. For example, we believe that some of our users have reduced their engagement with Facebook in favor of increased engagement with other products and services such as Instagram. In the event that our users increasingly engage with other products and services, we may experience a decline in user engagement and our business could be harmed.”
Teenagers ride fads, but the nature of these momentary trends is the fact that eventually one replaces another. At the moment, apps like Tumblr, Instagram, and Snapchat are enjoying high use rates and success with the teenage market. Snapchat was even criticized for standing on the wayside as teenagers were finding value in the app to sext each other. Still, it remains popular.
Based on a small survey of 1,038 people run by Y Combinator partner Garry Tan, Tumblr was in fact found to be topping Facebook in usage among 13 to 18 year olds. Facebook came in second, with Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat trailing respectively.
A September 2012 report by Nielsen may shed some light on Facebook’s woes. 58 percent of 13 to 17 year old teens in the United States are smartphone owners, and that figure is bound to jump in the next several years. With an abundance of mobile apps at a finger’s reach, and enough social media related apps out there to concern parents, Facebook has a lot of competition and a smaller window for error.
Facebook is playing the catch-up game. It hasn’t been shy to jump on board trends and launch its own clones of popular apps – as it did with Poke and Camera, and its additions to Messenger. But there’s something about an original that can’t be mimicked, and playing copycat is only going to get Facebook so far, especially with the fast-paced, mobile-addicted teen market.