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Snapchat and Instagram are virtually tied in terms of overall usage by teens, according to Piper Jaffray’s latest semi-annual Taking Stock with Teens survey. But each can boast one victory over the other: Snapchat is overwhelmingly teens’ favorite platform; but Instagram is the one they believe is best to communicate with them.

More Than 8 in 10 Use Snapchat and Instagram

This latest edition of the survey – fielded among roughly 6,000 teens with an average age of 16 – indicates that 83% use Snapchat on a monthly basis, while 82% use Instagram monthly. Those figures are each up by a percentage point from the Fall 2017 survey.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s much-ballyhooed teen problem doesn’t seem like it’s going away anytime soon: just 45% of teens surveyed said they use the platform on a monthly basis, unchanged from the prior edition but down from 51% a year ago. If there’s a silver lining for Facebook, it’s that teens who adopted it at an early age don’t appear to be abandoning it at a higher rate as they graduate high school. Rather, the declines have come by way of muted early adoption among 14-15-year-olds, who instead show a far greater proclivity to use Snapchat and Instagram.

Last year, Forrester Research suggested that teen use of Facebook may have peaked in the US, while this year eMarketer has forecast a decline in Facebook users ages 12-24.

Snapchat Remains the Favorite Platform

Facebook may be hanging on to a sizable chunk of the teen population, but it barely registers among their favorite platforms.

On that end it’s Snapchat that continues to be the big winner, cited by 45% of respondents as their single favorite. That’s consistent with the prior study, but is the first time in 3 years that its status has leveled off after consistent rises up the ranks.

Instagram continues to be in the picture, as the single favorite for 26% of respondents, up a couple of points from the previous edition of the survey.

As for Facebook? It’s the favorite for just 8% of teens surveyed, below Twitter (9%), which improved a couple of points.

Teens Say: Instagram is the Best Channel for Brand Communications

Instagram continues to outbid Snapchat in one crucial area: it’s the platform that teens are most likely to believe is the best way to communicate new products and promotions to them.

In fact, almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents said that Instagram is the best way to reach them, a figure that has grown from the last survey, when fewer than 60% identified Instagram.

As such, teens are 3 times as likely to believe that Instagram is the best way to reach them as they are to feel that Facebook (22%) is best.

On this count, Instagram outperforms not only Snapchat and Instagram, but also other marketing channels such as email, text messaging, website ads, and TV/radio.

Other Survey Highlights

In other notable findings from the report:

  • Overall teen spending inched up by 2% year-over-year;
  • Teens report spending about one-fifth (19%) of their shopping time online, up from 17% a year ago and rising at the expense of department stores and legacy channels;
  • Food remains teens’ top spending category, occupying almost one-quarter (24%) of their spending;
  • Male teens estimate allocating 13% of their spending to video games, a new peak that puts games almost on par with fashion;
  • Fully 82% of teens claim to have an iPhone, and 84% will choose one as their next phone, a new peak from 82% in the prior survey.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 6,000 teens across 40 U.S. states with an average age of 16.4. Some 55% of respondents are male, and the sample has an average household income of $66,300.

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