Peak social media? Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat fail to make new friends


Snapchat – falling into line behind Facebook and Twitter – has become the latest social network to report declining user numbers in its half year results.

Snap Inc, the parent company of the app known for its disappearing messages and photograph filters, revealed that in the three months to the end of June active daily user numbers shrank from 191 million to 188 million, a 1.5% decline. It followed a controversial redesign that had prompted more than a million people to sign a petition to reverse the “annoying” changes. It has also faced intense competition from Facebook-owned Instagram.

The battle to keep the attention of the social media set, and especially younger users, has been getting tougher. Earlier this year a tweet from Kylie Jenner, in which she asked her 25 million followers “does anyone else not open Snapchat any more?”, wiped $1.3bn off the company’s value.

“Kids are fickle and Snapchat definitely seems to be falling out of favour with young people, who are its biggest fans,” says Joseph Evans, a digital media analyst at Enders. “For young people there are a million ‘next big things’ every year – look at the global craze for the Fortnite game – it’s difficult to keep their attention for any length of time, as Snapchat is finding out. It doesn’t help when Kylie Jenner, a Pied Piper for kids, blasts Snapchat – then its definitely not cool.”

Facebook was the first of the big three social networks to spark concern as $120bn was wiped off its value – the biggest ever one-day drop in a company’s market value – when it reported its first-ever decline in users in Europe in July.

Facebook said the 3 million European users who had abandoned it was the knock-on effect of specific factors including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, first reported by the Observer, and privacy changes – but insisted it was not indicative of a wider growth issue.

However, Facebook has also been facing growing pains, 14 years after Mark Zuckerberg launched it from his Harvard dorm during his second year at university.

This year more than 3 million under-25s in the UK and US will either quit Facebook or stop using it regularly. Jordan Ranford, 24, recently said: “As soon as parents got in they killed it.” Which neatly sums up an increasingly common attitude among young social media users.

“Facebook does have a teen problem,” says Bill Fisher, an analyst at eMarketer. “The ‘parents on Facebook’ thing is a trend and we are seeing younger users drop off. We are now starting to see a generation of ‘Facebook-nevers’, teens coming into adulthood who have never even been on the platform.”

Facebook has managed to stem some of the exodus through attracting the youth audience looking elsewhere to Instagram, where the company has pegged a lot of its expected future growth.

Twitter has also suffered a drop in its userbase. Last month, the company’s share price plunged more than a fifth, the second biggest fall since Twitter went public in 2013, after it reported a loss of 1 million users.

The decline, which came following its action to delete fake and offensive accounts, left the company with 335 million users worldwide. The business has been stuck at about this level for some time, and now faces further downward pressure as it continues to clean up the site to address “problem behaviours” such as trolling.

It has been estimated that Twitter has been deleting about 1m fake or offensive accounts a day.

“It is perfectly possible that Twitter has topped out,” says Evans. “Twitter is a spent force if you are just thinking about user [growth]. From a user point of view it is definitely stalling at best. I wouldn’t want to say we are definitely at peak Twitter, but it is not going to reach that next order of magnitude.

“Until recently the strategy was to grow users and become a Facebook competitor. But it is never going to be a billion-user business. The recognition now is that is never going to happen. But with 300 million users Twitter is a decent product and you can sell a business off that.”

Claire Hungate, the chief executive of social video company Brave Bison, utilises these networks and others such as Google-owned YouTube and believes the social media juggernaut is not in real danger of slowing down soon.

“I’d say the best days are still to come,” she says. “Snap lost users due to its redesign, Facebook has taken a blow but it will survive and Twitter will move to video increasingly to improve user experience.

“Just under half the world’s population are using social media regularly, that’s around 3.5 billion people. The expectation of the user is very high now, quality is the best business plan, there is room for all these social platforms but users can be fickle and they’ll move around.”

Source of this (above) article: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/aug/10/peak-social-media-facebook-twitter-and-snapchat-fail-to-make-new-friends

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