- Snapchat, the image-messaging app with 188 million users worldwide, will overtake Facebook among 18- to 24-year-olds in the United Kingdom this year, researcher eMarketer forecast. Snapchat's U.K. usage will reach 16.2 million this year, of which 5 million (or nearly 31%), will be in that age group, compared with 4.5 million (a 1.8% drop from 2017) for Facebook.
- Facebook-owned Instagram will have 4.2 million U.K. young adult users, while 2.6 million will use Twitter this year. Instagram's audience of younger adults will grow in the coming years, but not as quickly as Snapchat's, per eMarketer.
- Facebook is adding monthly users, mostly among older age groups. The company's U.K. user base will increase 2% to 32.7 million this year, a leveling that suggests many younger social network users are forgoing Facebook altogether in favor of more other mobile-first alternatives, according to eMarketer.
eMarketer's forecast for Snapchat should be encouraging for parent company Snap, which this year has struggled with its first-ever decline in global usage amid a redesign of its mobile app that turned off many of its users. Snapchat's user base slipped 2% to 188 million in Q2 2018 from the prior three-month period, even as revenue rose 44% from a year earlier to $262.3 million. Snap declined to provide a forecast for user growth, saying only that the company typically sees slower growth in Q3 periods.
However, even as Snapchat outpaces Facebook in the U.K., it still has to contented with Instagram, its main competitor in the photo- and video-sharing space. Snapchat is struggling to attract advertisers at the same rate as Instagram, with a survey by financial services firm Cowen finding that advertisers largely prefering Instagram Stories (90%) over Snapchat Stories (10%). Almost half of ad buyers said they spent less on Snapchat video ads than originally expected, according to the survey.
Snapchat and Facebook have both shown mixed results in the past year, indicating that the social media industry is maturing after more than a decade of rapid growth. Facebook got its start on desktops, but the advent of the smartphone era really fueled its growth by giving mobile users the ability to check in with their friends and family from anywhere and at any time. Snapchat is a younger company that focused on mobile users since its inception, and found an audience among younger adults that liked its disappearing image format for personal messages. Snapchat's appeal among young adults and teens has helped to boost ad growth by reaching audiences that are difficult to target in other media. eMarketer predicted in a separate study that the number of U.S. Facebook users will rise 0.9% this year to 169.5 million, making it the most used social network among all age groups except for teens. Two years ago, Snapchat surpassed Facebook as the most popular social network among U.S. teens, a trend that eMarketer predicts will continue. Snapchat will add 1.2 million new users in that age group by 2022, while Facebook will lose 2.2 million, the researcher said.
Facebook also has had its share of troubles that have tarnished its brand. The Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed how much personal information the social network had shared with thousands of third-party app developers. Facebook has struggled to contain the controversy while hiring thousands of people to review objectionable content and auditing thousands of apps for compliance with its data-protection policies. Facebook’s Q2 revenue growth declined by about 7 percent from the prior three-month period, and the social network said data privacy restrictions would hinder future ad growth. The company's Instagram app has become a strong engine for growth among younger audiences and social influencers who are seeking to monetize their posts with advertising and social commerce — a strategy that Snapchat also has embraced.