YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat have dethroned Facebook as the most popular online platform among U.S. teens, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center.
Researchers at Pew surveyed 743 teens aged 13-17 on their social media use. About 51% of respondents use Facebook, while 85% of respondents use YouTube, 72% use Instagram, and 69% use Snapchat. Among today’s teens, only 10% say Facebook is the platform they use “most often,” while 32% chose YouTube and 35% chose Snapchat.
When Pew last surveyed teens about their social media use in 2014, 71% of respondents reported being Facebook users. This year’s survey results suggest that Facebook is no longer the dominant online platform among teens.
But that doesn’t mean colleges should abandon Facebook as a recruitment channel just yet.
For one thing, Facebook use differs greatly by income level. Teens living in households that earn less than $30,000 annually are almost twice as likely to use Facebook as teens in households earning $75,000 or more (70% vs 36%), according to the survey. And black teens are more likely than their white peers to identify Facebook as their most-used site (26% vs 7%).
For underrepresented students, Facebook has become a network they can rely on for college research, writes Emily Bauer, managing director of program marketing, for EAB‘s Enrollment blog.
When EAB surveyed 5,580 prospective students, our researchers found that 27% of first-gen students initially encountered a favorite school via social media, whereas only 17% of non-first gen students initiated a relationship with a college via social media. Similar disparities exist between Hispanic/Latino (25%) and Caucasian (16%) students, as well as between students from lower-income families (24%) and those from more privileged economic backgrounds (13%).
Teens also interact differently with their peers and families than they do with colleges, notes Bauer. “Facebook might not be their first social channel,” she says, “but they do have accounts on that platform and they are using it often enough to connect with schools.” Bauer shares that colleges who work with EAB’s Enrollment Services to improve their Facebook strategy have seen as much as a 5% lift in application submissions and a 10% lift in deposits.
Other Enrollment Services research suggests that more than half of students will follow a school on their social media channels, including 28% who do so through Facebook, says Aaron Grant, a digital marketing strategist at EAB. And don’t forget that Facebook can be a great platform for connecting with parents, he adds.
“A final thing to keep in mind as well is that Facebook owns Instagram,” says Grant, “and you always want to make sure you are advertising on both for the optimal reach. Just doing one or the other won’t give you the same results as using them both.”
Facebook has become to teens what Google is for most adults: a source of rich information, like a digital encyclopedia that can ride around in a backpack—a great place for college information to be, Bauer notes in her blog post. To be sure, Facebook will have to continue to redefine its position and relevance in the increasingly complex social media world. For now, though, Facebook is still your enrollment marketing friend, she writes (Herold, Education Week, 6/7; Pew Research Center survey, 6/7).