Instagram Now Tops Twitter, Facebook as Teens’ Most Important Social Network

PiperJaffray-American-Teens-Most-Important-Social-Network-Apr2014Teens’ social networking platform preferences are rapidly changing. According to the latest semi-annual survey from Piper Jaffray, Instagram has now surpassed both Twitter and Facebook to become teens’ single “most important” social network. In the previous survey, Twitter had assumed the lead, while in the two surveys before that, Facebook had been the top choice.

Facebook has plummeted from being the most important social network for 42% of teens in the Fall 2012 survey to just 23% in this latest edition. By contrast, the percentage of teens citing Instagram as their most important has surged from 12% to 30% in the same time period. Twitter, meanwhile, has hovered in the 26-30% range for the past 4 surveys, taking the lead in the Fall 2013 study virtually by default as Facebook’s appeal slumped.

The other social networks measured – Google+, Tumblr and Pinterest – remain most important for only 5% or fewer teens, each. The survey did not list Snapchat as an option, a curious decision given indications that it is now more popular than Twitter among the 12-24 demographic. And, as a Pew study demonstrates, Snapchat’s user base skews young, much as does Instagram’s base. (Less than 5% of the respondents to Piper Jaffray’s survey chose the “other” option for their most important social network. One could reasonably expect Snapchat to have a higher figure than that were it to be listed as an option.)

It’s worth noting that Instagram’s status as teens’ “most important” social network doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the platform with the widest reach. According to an Edison Research study (see link above concerning Snapchat’s popularity), Facebook remains by far the most-used social network by the 12-24 age group, and brand pages’ reach among teens doesn’t appear to have tailed off. Nevertheless, the same Edison Research survey found Instagram to be second only to Facebook in popularity among 12-24-year-olds, and a recent forecast from eMarketer sees Instagram’s US teen user base growing by 1.7 million between this year and 2016, to 6.5 million.

Instagram’s growing popularity extends beyond the teen demographic, of course. The forecast from eMarketer sees strong growth in its 18-44-year-old user base, and comScore data indicates that among adult (18+) iOS and Android users, Instagram is the 10th-largest application by reach. Moreover, it recently passed the 200 million user mark.

As expected, this has not escaped the attention of top brands, whose activity on the platform has been growing.

For research related to maximizing engagement rates on Instagram, see MarketingCharts’ Cheat Sheet, “Brand Post Engagement on Instagram,” which includes data on post engagement rates by hour of the day.

Other Findings:

About the Data: Piper Jaffray’s “Taking Stock With Teens” survey is a semi-annual research project. The results are from two unique surveys totaling approximately 7,500 teens with an average age of 16.4 years:

1) Upper-income student survey

  • Classroom visit & electronic surveys of 1,300 teens;
  • Average HH of $103k (representing the top 25% of US households).

2) Average-income study survey

  • Classroom visit & electronic surveys of 6,200 teens; average age 16.5 years;
  • HH income of $55k aligns more closely with the US median.