Ofcom said U.K. teens are losing interest in social networks, but comScore believes they're simply gravitating towards one in particular.
Despite recent suggestions that U.K. teens and young adults are losing interest in social networks, research released today by online measurement firm comScore suggests instead that they're simply gravitating towards one in particular -- Facebook.
Although 15- to 24-year-olds are spending 9 percent less time overall on social networking sites, comScore found the number of users in that age bracket reached 6.8 million in June, up 14 percent versus the previous year. The decline in overall engagement is attributable to younger users spending less time on secondary sites behind Facebook, the company suggests.
Last week, U.K. media regulator OfCom released research suggesting the percentage of 15- to 24-year-olds with a profile on a social networking site has dropped for the first time -- from 55 percent at the start of last year to 50 percent this year. In contrast, 46 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds are now making use of social networking sites compared with 40 percent last year, leading the body to suggest that older users were driving younger users out of the space.
Mike Read, SVP and managing director, comScore Europe disagrees. "Recent reports have suggested that 15- to 24-year-olds in the U.K. are moving away from social networking sites because they're no longer cool as older users have encroached on their virtual space," he stated in today's release. "ComScore research indicates that is simply not the case. In fact, more 15- 24-year-olds are using social networking sites than a year ago, so there isn't any particular aversion to the activity."
He added, "What does appear to be happening is that younger users are beginning to consolidate around Facebook, and are spending less time on competing sites."
This trend is highlighted by substantial user losses for the U.K.'s other major social networks -- MySpace and Bebo. Last month, comScore released figures suggesting the two experienced a 22 percent and 28 percent reduction in unique visitors, respectively, during the 12-month period ending May 2009.
By contrast, Facebook experienced 57 percent growth in unique users during that period, and darling of the moment Twitter achieved a staggering 3,226 percent increase.
Despite that growth, it appears Twitter is still struggling to attract younger users. Although taken from a sample of U.S. users, Nielsen research found that only 16 percent of Twitter.com Web site users were under the age of 25 during the month of June -- under-representing the demographic considering persons under 25 make up around a quarter of active users in the U.S.
Those numbers do not, however, include access from mobile devices or third-party clients such as Tweetdeck. Although it's possible that younger users prefer to post content via mobile platforms, it seems unlikely that this would skew the numbers so drastically. Forrester analyst, Neil Strother was reluctant to draw conclusions, but said, "My suspicion is if [teens] aren't doing much online, they might not be doing much on mobiles either."
Ultimately, it's likely the difference comes down to simple matters of functionality and application. Twitter's real-time nature and culture of link-posting lends itself to current affairs and news-related content - a phenomenon demonstrated during the Iran election earlier this year. Older users are perhaps more likely to find value in that type of experience, whereas interaction surrounding photos, games and other third-party applications via Facebook may appeal more to a younger demographic.
Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!
Jack Marshall was a staff writer and stats editor for ClickZ News from 2007 until August 2011.
IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.
An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.
September 23, 2014
September 30, 2014
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT
October 23, 2014
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT