Snapchat is still the network of choice for U.S. teens — and Instagram is Facebook’s best shot at catching up

Good news, Snap investors.

Some good news for Snap: Despite its sluggish business and slumping stock price, Snapchat still dominates among teenagers, a core demographic that represents the future wave of internet consumers and what they care about.

RBC Capital published the latest update to its regular social media survey this week, and a few things stood out — especially in the battle over teenagers, where Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook are all fighting for the next generation’s attention.

A few key points from the survey:

  • Some 79 percent of U.S. 13- to 18-year-olds surveyed said they have a Snapchat account, more than any other type of social media. Of that age group, 73 percent have an Instagram account, and just 57 percent say they are on Facebook.
  • Respondents had to choose only one social network they could keep if they were “trapped on a deserted island.” This time, 44 percent of teens picked Snapchat, ahead of Instagram (24 percent) and Facebook (14 percent). One year ago, for RBC’s same survey question, the percentage of teens who insisted on keeping Snapchat on a desert island led with 28 percent — suggesting the app is still growing in necessity/popularity among young people.
  • Snapchat users said the most important feature of the app is messaging (68 percent), not Stories (28 percent) or Discover (4 percent). That’s interesting because the general belief is that Instagram’s decision to clone Snapchat Stories last year really hurt Snapchat in 2017. But Instagram is also trying to build out its direct messaging product, again cloning parts of Snapchat’s experience. If messaging is even more important to Snapchat than Stories, it’s possible that a successful version by Instagram could be even more damaging to Snapchat. (And now we see can also see why Instagram hasn’t hurried to build a Snapchat Discover competitor full of publisher content.)
Snapchat users feature chart showing chat and photo messaging the top feature

This notion that Snap is popular with teens has been popular the last couple of months. Data from comScore released in August found that Snapchat was still more popular among teens than Instagram, as did other data from Piper Jaffray in October.

But if you’re a Snap investor, you probably can’t hear it enough.

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