FACEBOOK paid the astronomical sum of $19bn for WhatsApp, the mobile messaging smartphone app, last month. One of the reasons for this colossal investment, according to the analysts, is that youngsters are increasingly shunning Facebook as uncool and dominated by older users.
However, according to the findings of our latest Children’s Omnibus poll, which surveys a nationally representative sample of eight-to-15-year-olds, young Britons feel relatively positive towards Facebook. They also see it as far more essential to their lives than WhatsApp and competitor Snapchat, which Facebook tried (and failed) to acquire for $3bn last year.
Nearly half of respondents use Facebook, while just one in five use WhatsApp and Snapchat. Over a third log in to Facebook most days, coming in behind YouTube at 41 per cent but well ahead of Snapchat at 11 per cent and WhatsApp on nine per cent.
Brands hoping to market to young consumers online may face an uphill struggle, however, as only 14 per cent say they follow fashion brands on social media, which is more than the eight per cent who follow food and drink brands.
Meanwhile, the only platform described as “cool” by a majority of respondents is YouTube, but Facebook comes in second place, and again still far ahead of Snapchat and WhatsApp.
Interestingly, a majority of respondents say they could live without every platform we asked about, except for Facebook (44 per cent) and YouTube (17 per cent). When we asked a subset of young Facebook users what their favourite thing about the social network is, the highest proportion say talking on Facebook messenger.
These findings show that Facebook is far from a sinking ship among the next generation of British consumers. Rather, this survey indicates that today’s youth inhabit a multi-platform universe where Facebook still occupies a central position.