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Facebook’s Still #1 for Teens, Emerging Platforms Increasing in Importance

You’ve seen the articles: “Teens Over Facebook,” “Kids Views Facebook as Parents’ Playground” and “Teenagers Bid Facebook Adieu.” Wait a second, marketers! Don’t abandon your focus on Facebook just yet! A new study from Piper Jaffray confirms that Facebook remains the most important social network among teenagers, with Twitter narrowly lagging behind in the #2 spot. Instagram clocks in as the third most popular social network, earning about half the votes of Facebook.

It’s necessary to point out that teens’ opinion of Facebook as the most important social network has dropped in the last year. While 42 percent of teenagers considered Facebook to be the most important social network in the Fall of 2012, only 33 percent currently do. Twitter’s growth has increased by three percent, and Instagram, notably owned by Facebook, has grown by five percent.

The semi-annual survey also looked at Facebook as a social media site, in addition to it being a social network. In this category, as well, Facebook stills reigns at the top of teen interest, but YouTube is a very close second. Facebook and YouTube, along with Tumblr, Pinterest and Flickr have all seen downturns in terms of teen importance since Fall 2012, while Twitter, Google+ and Instagram have managed to remain steady or increase in perceived importance.

What does this mean for marketers? Facebook still has a hold on a demographic that is ever-evolving and testing new technologies. While Facebook’s role as the sole king of the social arena may not last forever, it’s still a go-to for the age group. Therefore, brands need not abandon Facebook as a strategic tool.

Something brands must do? Understand emerging platforms, apps and sites. Teens called out Wanelo, Vine, Snapchat, Kik and 4chan amongst the most important sites not listed in the survey. As nearly half the teens surveyed are current iPhone users with 62 percent planning on purchasing an iPhone soon (plus another 23 percent opting for an Android smart phone), it’s no shock that four out of the five “write-in” sites are mobile apps.

It’s necessary to balance the old with the new. Continue to use Facebook and Twitter to communicate with the demographic, but understand that “cooler” emerging technologies will also have appeal. Managing this balance is a key to connecting with the evolving teenage demographic.