Snapchat can be as big as Facebook

Young people are increasingly using Instagram & Snapchat - Facebook is on the decline

Facebook is undisputedly the largest social network in the western hemisphere. Teens can't do much with the platform, however. They prefer to use Instagram and Snapchat - and to an increasing extent.

Facebook cannot hold its own with young people

Already at the end of 2016, the JIM study by the Media Education Research Association Southwest (mpfs) showed that young people in Germany are using classic social networks such as Facebook less and less. Instead, the use of messenger apps such as Snapchat or WhatsApp and picture networks such as Instagram continues to increase in these cohorts.

The latest eMarketers survey comes to a similar conclusion. It is true that this refers to US Americans and teens from Great Britain. But the cultural differences to Germany are not very great. Accordingly, Facebook is predicted to continue to grow slower, while Instagram and Snapchat continue to gain momentum. This development has been observed for quite some time and is sometimes due to the fact that teenagers like to distance themselves from their parents, whose network of choice is often Facebook. In addition, users up to the age of 24 grew up with the new platforms and messenger apps, Facebook is not one of the cool, hip networks in this age group.

Snapchat is the most popular network among 12- to 24-year-old Americans

According to eMarketer, Facebook will grow by 2.4 percent to 173 million US users in 2017, but fewer and fewer Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 are using the platform. This cohort will shrink by 3.4 percent on Facebook and drop to 14.5 million users in the US.

There is also a decline in engagement. Teens and twens log into the platform less often and interact less with their contacts there. One can assume that this circumstance is due to the low level of privacy: Anyone who posts something on Facebook or shares it with others must assume that bosses or relatives will also hear about it. The privacy settings can be easily modified on the platform so that only selected contacts see what they should see. But only the minority make use of it.

Snapchat, on the other hand, is the clear winner among 12- to 24-year-olds in the US.

Snapchat is constantly underestimated - also in Germany

Even if it doesn't seem like it: Snapchat is still a popular platform for young people who have just not (yet) been able to assert themselves in Germany, or at least in the German media landscape. If you look at the USA in terms of usage behavior, the difference is huge.

And the growth rates from the Q2 report 2017 don't look completely wrong either. Snapchat is still growing more slowly than Facebook. On the other hand, the app is growing faster than Twitter or LinkedIn, for example.

According to the new comScore Mobile App Report, Snapchat is the third most popular app in the United States in the age group between 18 and 24, while Instagram can only claim fifth place. Given that Snapchat is regularly predicted to end soon, it doesn't look so bad for the app.

The same applies here: Facebook is in second place among 18 to 24 year olds, but it is part of the standard repertoire as a platform. This means that young users definitely have an account there, but, as already mentioned above, use Facebook less often. eMarketer predicts that the number of 12- to 17-year-olds on Facebook will drop from 82 percent today to 76 percent by 2021, while Snapchat usage will increase by 26 percent over the same period.

Although Instagram and Facebook have far more users than Snapchat, the platform should be able to reach more users between the ages of 12 and 17 and 18 to 24 for the first time this year. The fact that Instagram belongs to Facebook is a fortunate circumstance, because the group can continue to be sure of its young users despite falling numbers on Facebook. Accordingly, the share of Snapchats among social networks in the USA is to increase to 40.8 percent.

Facebook is not the platform of choice for young internet users

Although the surveys cover the USA and UK, they can also be important for advertisers and marketers in the DACH region. Because the JIM study shows a similar development. The influence of Facebook is gradually waning, although the platform still has the highest number of users. Still, it's worth keeping Instagram and Snapchat on your screen when it comes to reaching the younger generations. Most of them have accounts on Facebook, but they rarely log in and interactions decrease.

The fact that Snapchat is often declared dead is due, among other things, to the massive media presence of the Facebook platforms and the slump in Snap shares on the stock exchange. Despite all this, Snapchat continues to gain growth of a not entirely unimportant target group for marketing in the future and should by no means be written off.

Although Snapchat and Instagram are often compared with each other, the difference between the two apps is - despite many similarities - not insignificant: While Instagram is a picture network, Snapchat is primarily a messenger service that is used primarily on a private level with friends is communicated. This must always be kept in mind.

Studied social science with a penchant for online and marketing. Was editor and content manager at OnlineMarketing.de from 2014 to 2019.