The results are in: fresh data from Statista shows that, as of Fall 2017 (aka right now), Snapchat holds the throne for the most-used social platform among teens in the US.
The original report from Piper Jaffray surveyed 6,100 teens with an average age of 16, from 44 US states.
And that's not all! Use of Snapchat amongst Generation Z (aged 13 - 18) reigned far superior over Facebook, Instagram and Twitter COMBINED.
You heard right.
Here are 3 reasons why this might be the case:
1. Snapchat most closely mimics peer to peer interaction on a digital medium.
Quickly put aside the mental images of people with puppy ear filters and Augmented Reality rainbows leaving their mouths.
With the majority of Gen Z being digital natives, it's no surprise much of peer-to-peer communication takes place online.
Snapchat's main focus of being a platform where one can send visual, unedited, first-person perspectives of what's happening currently around you, is still the easiest and most genuine status update to send to your friends. This is demonstrated in the stat that 60% of interactions on Snapchat are between close friends.
The Drum reported more than half of Snapchat's users admitted they would feel disconnected from their friends if not for Snapchat, with 25% going so far as to say Snapchat was essential to their relationships.
Vision Critical states that Snapchat most closely mimics peer face-to-face interactions because it’s about sharing what’s happening at the moment and “once a conversation happens it’s gone, and if you weren’t there then you missed it”. In line with this, Houseparty, a live video group chat app (like Facetime but for groups), which accumulated 1 million daily active users within 10 months, is another app that has experienced success with Generation Z.
These apps complement Gen Z’s preference for internet privacy and avoiding ‘permasharing’; posting content on sites like Facebook that are archived and permanent, which they may look back upon in embarrassment in the coming years - or even worse, have cyberbullies or future employers scrolling through them. The success of Snapchat with Gen Z can be attributed to the fact that it allows increased video and more personal messaging but with higher privacy.
Of course, having Stories and sending Photos directly to your friends is no longer unique to Snapchat, with Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp all adopting these features. However, unlike Snapchat, the main focus of these other apps are fundamentally different, which arguably dilutes the fact that they have these features. Snapchat already cemented itself as the 'disappearing photo app' long before they were taken up as 'add-ons' by these other apps.
2. Gen Z believe in ‘power to the people’, and Snapchat is pioneering that with their users.
Snapchat appeals to the all-inclusive & equalist nature of Generation Z, with an emphasis being placed on peers and ‘power to the people’ as opposed to bigger institutions.
No other platform has an abundance of real-time, user-submitted content like Snapchat. People from all over submit Snaps for public Stories, which are created around different venues, locations, events and even breaking news, like the Hurricane in Houston, where over 300,000 Snaps were submitted to Snapchat for the public story.
Again, Instagram’s copied the concept since, but by comparison, it's limited to what you search for and what people hashtag.
Snapchat's interface, combined with Snap Maps and the newly released Context Cards, makes it far easier to not only search, but discover what's currently happening in the world.
So you can forget about institutions advertising themselves as being enough to satisfy Gen Z; whether it's the gig down the road or a festival in the Philippines, Gen Z would rather see & hear about it from other people's perspectives, than the ones running it.
Which leads me onto the fact that:
3. Generation Z value authentic storytelling & Snapchat fully caters for that.
Following from Hurricane Harvey in the US earlier this year, around 300,000 Snaps were submitted to the public stories in Houston and the surrounding areas which were affected.
You're probably wondering what people are doing taking Snaps whilst in the midst of a natural disaster. However, I strongly believe it relates back to the concept of giving 'power to the people'; that not all news has to come from a single news outlet, but that you are in control of what you can broadcast. One chooses to broadcast the reality of the current situation, on a human level that is unmatched anywhere else.
When strung together with everyone else's Snaps, it creates an overall Story that showcases a whole range of emotions; an honest collective story about life's experiences.
So, what can brands learn from this?
This peer-to-peer paradigm has translated to how these teens views brands, with Generation Z deeply favouring this approach above traditional ad formats. As a result, brands have shifted the way they approach their advertising to follow suit, hence the trend of partnering with social media influencers, as it positions the brand on a far more relatable level.
Steven Lammertink (CEO of the Cirqle) summarises it perfectly: “Generation Z is more willing to hear a brand’s story when it is part of a narrative their peer is already telling. This approach is not obtrusive.”
In summary, marketing to Generation Z requires 3 things: authenticity, diversity and simplicity. Ultimately, they want something real that they can support.
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