Facebook, Twitter, and teens: who’s winning the youth war

Sure, Facebook is the world’s largest social network — and the one currently ranked highest by teens. But don’t count the little blue bird out yet: Twitter just might be winning the youth numbers game.

A recent Piper Jaffray survey of 7000 U.S. teens ranked Facebook first in importance to teens. Twitter came in second, and Instagram — owned, of course, by Facebook — came in third. Detailed results, including how big the differences are, were not released, but Gene Munster, a Piper Jaffray analyst, said that Facebook is well positioned to stay top dog in social networks for teens.

That, however, contrasts with a mammoth social media demographics study completed by Pingdom just two months ago.

In that survey, which analyzed social media use at 24 different social networks, the average age of Facebook users is 40.5 years, while the average age of Twitter users is slightly younger, at 37.2. And when Pingdom compared the results to a previous study, the website performance monitoring company found that while the average age of Facebookers has increased by two years since 2010, the average of Twitter users has decreased by the same amount.

All of which correlates well with statistics way back from 2009 which showed Facebook users aging and Twitter users growing younger.

Above: Self-disclosed ages on Twitter

Image Credit: Beevolve

And it matches up with Beevolve’s recent survey of a whopping 36 million Twitter users. In Beevolve’s study, almost three quarters of users who disclose their age on Twitter are aged 15 to 25. That needs to be taken with a big fat grain of salt, as most of Twitter’s 500+ million users don’t disclose their age on the site, but is still an interesting indicator of a sizable youth contingent on Twitter.

A possible explanation?

Facebook has more than double Twitter’s users. At over a billion daily active users to Twitter’s perhaps 550 to 600 million total users, there’s a massive size advantage. Take into account the percentage of monthly active users out of Twitter’s total userbase — about a third — and the difference becomes even more apparent.

Daily active Facebook to Twitter users is probably about a five to one ratio … a billion to maybe 200 million. And that’s even before you take Instagram into account.

Which means that even if the average age of Twitter users is young, and perhaps on a percentage basis Twitter has more teens than Facebook, Facebook still easily has Twitter beat.

But that may yet change in the future, if the current demographic trends on social network continue.

photo credit: ruurmo via photopin cc


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