YouTube is the “Coolest” Network for Teens


GlobalWebIndex’s latest figures show how the world’s major social networks have been faring in 2015 – with Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram the big winners in terms of growth rates. But while Facebook is still the clear number one in terms of overall member and active user numbers, the results make one thing absolutely clear: teens are still Facebook’s biggest problem. Jason Mander, Head of Trends at GWI, exclusively talks us through some of the key findings from the new GWI Social report.

There’s barely a week that goes by at the moment without a headline proclaiming the “end of Facebook”. But the simple truth is that remains top dog: it has (considerably) more members and active users than any other network, and that more than 50% of its users say they’re visiting the site multiple times per day is pretty impressive (by way of comparison, fewer than 20% of Tumblr or Pinterest users say the same).

Nevertheless, that Facebook has an image problem among certain key demographics is clear. Ask all internet users in countries like the US and UK to pick the “coolest” social network and Facebook is still top dog – not bad for a network which is more than a decade old. Yet ask the same question to teens only (defined here as 16-19s) and Facebook’s rating tumbles dramatically. While 37% of all adults name Facebook as the “coolest” network, just 14% of teens agree. In fact, among this much-coveted and trend-setting audience, it’s YouTube that comes top.

Charts from Social Report - WeAreSocial

Interestingly, Facebook-owned Instagram is the second “coolest” network for teens, giving more vindication for Facebook’s decision to purchase it. Zuckerberg and co. still have a challenge to overcome in the crucial messaging space, however, where Snapchat is notably ahead of either WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Tumblr also performs much better among teens than it does among the general online population; together with its extremely healthy growth rates, it’s little wonder that Marissa Meyer has been pointing to the blogging platform as a major success story for Yahoo.

Given that younger internet users – and teens in particular – are the biggest multi-networkers of all (typically having accounts on over six different networks), it’s hardly surprising that so many of them now look at other platforms as being “cooler” than Facebook. But this trend also permeates their behaviors while on Facebook: across the 20+ platform-specific actions tracked in the GWI survey, teens are typically slightly behind average for sharing behaviors while being in line with, or ahead of average, for passive ones.

So, teens over-index for actions like clicking the “like” button (75% did this last month), reading articles, visiting pages and, crucially, for logging in to see what’s happening without doing anything themselves. But they under-index for behaviors such as posting comments, updating their status or uploading photos.

Certainly, differences between teens and older users are hardly sizeable. And there’s still much good news here for Facebook: that three quarters of teens are “liking” things – thus helping Facebook to refine its targeted advertising – is particularly noteworthy. But it does nevertheless illustrate how behaviors are evolving, with photos and active contributions migrating elsewhere. Quite simply, Facebook still leads the field but it’s not quite the all-conquering, all-dominating force that it once was.

Note: GlobalWebIndex conducts quarterly research across 33 markets, representing 90% of the global internet audience. It surveys 200,000 internet users per year, including 30,000 in both the US and UK. Download a free summary of the new GWI Social report here.