The Demographics of Instagram and Snapchat Users

Pew-Snapchat-User-Demos-Oct2013A majority 54% of US internet users aged 18 and up now post original photos and videos online, up from 46% last year, says the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in a new report [pdf]. As part of its survey of the photo and video landscape, the researcher explores the use of Instagram and Snapchat, finding the former adopted by 18% of cell phone owners and the latter by 9%. Predictably, both are much more heavily used by youth.

Among cell phone users, fully 26% of 18-29-year-olds report using Snapchat, a figure which plummets to 5% among 30-49-year-olds, 3% of the 50-64 crowd and 2% of those 65 and older. Interestingly, there’s no real gender disparity to speak of, nor is there any real gap in adoption between whites and African-Americans. Sorting by education attainment yields no significant differences, although use appears higher among those with less than $30k in household income (12%) than those with greater household income (5-9%).

Pew-Instagram-User-Demos-Oct2013The demographics of Instagram users look a little bit different, although linear trends are also few and far between. Some 20% of female cell phone users aged 18 and up use the application, compared to 16% of males, although Pew doesn’t deem this a statistically significant difference. Similarly, while 20% of African-Americans reported using the app, compared to 14% of whites, that result also doesn’t show up as being outside of the margin of error.

Once again, the biggest gap comes when sorting by age. Fully 43% of 18-29-year-old cell phone users report using Instagram – a number that will likely rise over time given a recent report showing that Instagram is now the second-most important social network to American teens, tied with Facebook behind Twitter.

While the adoption rate falls significantly among older age groups, a fairly significant 18% of respondents in the 30-49 age group say they use Instagram, suggesting that Instagram’s user base isn’t as heavily skewed towards youth as Snapchat’s, which is – in fairness – not much of a surprise.

In terms of education attainment, respondents with some college education proved most likely to be using Instagram (23%), ahead of college graduates (18%) and those with high school degrees or less (15%). There was no statistically significant difference when sorting by household income (HHI), though respondents with more than $75k in HHI (21%) were most likely to say they are using the app.

Recent data from GlobalWebIndex suggests that 12% of smartphone users worldwide are using Instagram as of Q3, with that figure representing 130% growth from the start of this year. Earlier data from SimplyMeasured indicates that top brands are paying more attention to the app – and surely will be giving it a closer look now that ads are coming.

For more on 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:

  • Among Instagram users, 24% say they use it several times a day, while another 12% say they use it daily.
  • 56% of female internet users post original photos on the internet (“creators”), compared to 48% of males.
  • 47% of adult internet users report sharing images and videos they found elsewhere online (“curators”), up from 41% last year.
  • Both creators and curators skew towards the 18-29 age group.

About the Data: A nationally representative survey of 1,000 adults ages 18+ was taken October 3-6, 2013. It was conducted in English on landline and cell phones. The sample contained 852 internet users and 941 cell phone owners. The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 3.6 percentage points. The margin of error for internet users is +/- 3.9 percentage points. The margin of error for cell phone owners is +/- 3.7 percentage points.