In case you needed another reminder and are wondering why Facebook is so focused on regaining young users, a new Forrester survey, which includes responses from over 4,600 teens in the U.S., found that TikTok was 13 years old. points – an increase in weekly usage compared to the same period last year, while Instagram fell by 4 points in the same period.
As you can see in this graphic, according to Forrester ‘Consumer Technographics US Youth Survey’, 63% of teens in the US stated that they now use TikTok weekly, compared to 50% last year, compared to 57% for Instagram (down from 61%).
The figures highlight TikTok’s rapid growth and popularity among younger audiences, an element that has intimidated Facebook – now Meta – since late 2019, when TikTok suddenly became a real trend and a real potential threat to its market dominance.
Meta’s usual approach to such challengers was to first try to redeem them before they became too big, but the process was, at least in part, based on the controversial Onavo VPN tracking program that helped her track key trends in applications as they evolved. Meta was forced to shut down Onavo’s monitoring program in January 2019 because of its intrusive nature, which essentially collected data on the use of applications from many teenagers and paid them a small fee to provide such access. After the program was discovered, Apple banned Onavo from the App Store for violating its rules, before Meta closed the program forever in response to a TechCrunch investigation.
This reduced Meta’s insight into growing trends, making the company more vulnerable to competition from TikTok. Without the Onavo program that tracks trends among young users, TikTok experienced significant growth during 2019, with 44% of all app downloads (at the time) in that period.
As a result, Meta then moved on to the second phase of its competition mitigation manual – replication – with the launch of Instagram Reels in Brazil in late 2019, before expanding the function to selected European markets, then to India in July 2020. , just days after TikTok was banned. in the region due to geopolitical tensions with China.
But, as this new report from Forrester shows, along with various other studies, the arrival of Reels has not slowed the spread of TikTok, and while Facebook has also encouraged U.S. government officials to take security concerns about the Chinese-owned app, it has since moved apart from Reels. and on Facebook, none of his previous measures to repel competition worked the same way, as TikTok continues to steal younger audiences and push Instagram into the back seat.
By further examining these trends, Forrester found that users see TickTok as a “more fun” and “funnier” and more positive experience overall than Instagram..
It is also worth noting, although not listed in the table above, YouTube remains the most used app among teens in the U.S., with 72% of teens using YouTube weekly, according to Forrester statistics.
This seems to indicate, in general, broader trends among young audiences, with YouTube and TikTok now leading the way, in their own uses (although YouTube is also trying to eat TikTok’s market share with ‘Shorts’), while Instagram and Facebook are falling behind. with a negative press around Facebook, and the appeal is to older users, seemingly diminishing its overall ‘cool factor’.
Which is a big concern for Meta, especially when she looks at her big metaverse shift. A key element of all technology trends is the adoption of young people, and becoming younger, technologically better informed, more trend-setting users, and if Meta continues to lose ground to competitors, it could make it harder to maximize the adoption of VR and AR tools. Because while Meta upcoming AR glasses could be functionally powerful, if people don’t see them as cool, they won’t use them.
How do we know that? Because Google Glass canceled for exactly the same reason. And while that was some time ago, and Meta’s upcoming wearables are far more advanced and functional, the same common behaviors have remained.
The target should keep young people to maximize their opportunities in the next phase. It could still win, especially if it can be established as a basic layer of support for the wider metaverse and as a multitude of types for other developers and platforms to build in virtual space. But there are big risks here if Instagram, in particular, continues to lose ground.
The question, then, is whether Meta can really win over younger users, or is it too late because TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat have replaced their popularity, in different ways, among teen users?
This will be a key element to watch in 2022, as Meta really wants to step up its youth offensive.
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