Forrester: YouTube is most popular social site for 12- to 17-year-olds

Dive Brief:

  • Facebook has lost ground to YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat among 12- to 17-year-olds, according to a Forrester report made available to Marketing Dive. While use is growing for the other platforms, Facebook is the only one whose use and frequency rates among U.S. online youth have barely changed over the past few years. 
  • YouTube was the most popular social media platform, visited by 96% of the age group, up from 87% in 2014, with 61% doing so several times a day, up from 40% three years ago. Additionally, almost 70% use Instagram and Snapchat, with 40% engaging on those platforms multiple times per day, and 62% of Snapchat’s young users report it is important for keeping in touch with friends.
  • The news is good for brands, with 51% of 12- and 13-year-old saying it is cool to be associated with a company on social media and only 26% of U.S. youth with a Facebook profile saying the platform has too many ads. The volume of ads on Instagram and Snapchat bothers approximately one in 10 of their users. 

Dive Insight:

A key takeaway from the report is that U.S. youth are looking for novelty and value from social media, which they are finding on platforms like YouTube and Instagram while Facebook is viewed as nothing more than a utility. The findings underscore the growing importance of video and visual communication to younger consumers and that Facebook’s efforts in these areas might not be enough to enhance its image with this age group. 

Marketers should take note that the study found the age group is interested in content that brands share on social media, find social media a key way to communicate with companies and they are sensitive to the social benefits of associating with brands on social media.

Gen Z may remain something of a conundrum for marketers, but research is providing marketers with insights to help reach these emerging consumers. Social media is a key marketing channel, according to Forrester’s research with more than 50% of U.S. youths online reporting being interested in content shared by brands on social media platforms. And interestingly, 51% 12- and 13-year-olds think it is cool to be associated with a brand on social media by liking or following the brand compared to 38% of 16- and 17-year-olds.

Another finding from the research is young social media users seek differentiation, specific value and the emotional benefits from engaging with different platforms and respond when they feel like there is a reason to care about a social media platform or a brand’s content on those platforms.

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