But there’s a bit of whiplash involved with these numbers. As recently as August, eMarketer estimated that “in 2018, 16.4 million 12- to 17-year-olds will use Snapchat, compared with 12.8 million for Instagram. Snapchat will remain dominant among teen users through 2022.”
Now, Piper Jaffray appears to be flipping the script.
In a note to investors, the firm wrote that “Instagram continues to show dominance in selling, as teens overwhelmingly prefer brands contact them on Instagram versus other channels.” Nearly 70 percent of teens said they preferred that brands contact them through Instagram. Snapchat hovered just over 40 percent, slightly beating out e-mail.
Going by sheer usage, Instagram appears to dwarf Snapchat overall. Last June, it broke a milestone of a billion monthly active users. Although Snap declined to release global MAU numbers, it reported 100 million MAUs in the U.S. and Canada.
But when it comes to young users, Snap has always been proud of its social traction. Last month, Snap retail director Marni Schapiro waxed poetic about the platform’s traction among Millennials, telling WWD that “in the U.S., we reach 72 percent of them every day…and the average users is on the app 25 times a day.”
Following these fluctuations can be mind-boggling, but the matter may hinge on a nuanced difference between usage and popularity: Piper Jaffray discovered that teens may use Instagram more, but when asked which social media platform was their favorite, they gave it to Snapchat, whose 46 percent easily beat Instagram’s 35 percent.
If the ephemeral photo and messaging platform is holding onto its teen cred with both hands, the reasons for that are obvious. After a disappointing first quarter, the company revealed that it further lost daily active users in the next quarter, going from 191 million to 188 million. Since then, it has been busy with a growing array of initiatives spanning original content, new hardware, new partners and more shopping features. Still, the company saw shares plunge to an all-time low of $6.46 earlier this month. That had to hurt.
At this point, analysts seem split on whether Snap can rebound, but it’s obviously doing everything it can to make it happen.
Regardless of who’s in first or second place today, or whether that changes tomorrow or next week, one thing is clear: Snapchat and Instagram are still the most popular social networks for teen users by a large margin. On their list of favorite platforms, Twitter came in at 6 percent and Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, limped in at 5 percent.
As for most preferred shopping site, Amazon nabbed first place with 47 percent. It’s worth remembering that Amazon partnered with Snap to populate Snapchat product searches with results from the e-commerce giant’s marketplace. Right now, that looks like an extremely savvy move.
The list of favorite e-commerce sites reveals how massive the teen sentiment for the Amazon really is. There’s a ton of daylight between first and second place here. Despite winning the top spot for preferred retail brand, Nike, as a shopping site, garnered only 5 percent.