You can set your watch by the now-quarterly chatter about whether Facebook users – particularly teenagers – are fleeing to whatever social app is the buzz of the moment. Yet it’s rare to find a large-scale, authoritative study that confirms that speculation.
The US-based Pew Research Centre’s latest survey isn’t that study either. “Facebook continues to be the most popular social media site, but its membership saw little change from 2013,” explains the report.
Pew’s study won’t answer the questions about teenagers, mind: it only covers online adults in the US. The percentage of 18-29 year-olds using Facebook rose from 84% in 2013 to 87% in 2014, although the big growth came with their grandparents: the percentage of over-65s using Facebook in the US rose from 45% to 56% in the same period.
What’s more, Pew claims that engagement on Facebook has risen notably: 70% of American online adults used it every day in 2014, up from 63% in 2013.
The key trend in the report, even if it won’t make the same kind of headlines as a Facebook flight, is that people using more than one social network are on the rise: up from 42% in 2013 to 52% in 2014 as LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter all rose in their penetration (albeit to 28%, 28%, 26% and 23% respectively).
The report teases out some of the demographic differences too: 53% of 18-29 year-old online adults in the US now use Instagram, while 42% of online women use Pinterest compared to 13% of online men.
What’s missing? Well, no data on younger teenagers as we mentioned, but also some of the most interesting social apps are missing from Pew’s analysis: no WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Kik or even brand new contenders like Yik Yak, which is thought to be huge among US college students.
And yes, Pew’s research is US-only, so the study doesn’t tell us what’s happening to Facebook usage (and Twitter, etc) elsewhere in the world. Even so, the next time you read about Facebook’s inevitable fall from grace, MySpace-style, Pew’s data may come in handy.