Snapchat Remains Teens’ Favorite Social Platform, Instagram Their Top Marketing Channel

April 16, 2018

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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