Facebook is the "most important" social media site for about 10% fewer teenagers than it was a year ago, according to a new PiperJaffray survey of over 5,000 teenagers. The teens surveyed are less interested in Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Flickr, and Tumblr too. Of the major sites included in the survey, only Pinterest has grown. (Instagram was not included in the survey in spring 2012).
This suggests something bigger than a shift away from Facebook; it hints at what could be the beginning of an across-the-board teen rejection of traditional social networking as a whole. But where are young people going? The survey includes some notable write-ins, which are presented almost as a footnote. But they might explain what's going on:
The sites that are either ascendant, holding steady, or holding relatively strong are feed-heavy and profile-light; the sites that seem to be hit hardest are those that have a more traditional, MySpace-y structure, centered around a detailed profile. (Tumblr is the odd exception here.)
The biggest "write-in" services aren't really social networks in the way Facebook is a social network. Snapchat and Kik are messaging services. While they might be able to draw teens' attention away from Facebook, they have little functional overlap.
This data measures sentiment, not usage stats. If this data is solid, though, we should see it reflected in a teen exodus from traditional social networks. Considering how unwilling some of these companies are to talk about the younger demographic, it may already be under way.