Social Apps Dominating the Millennial Generation
Kurt Wagner '12
Facebook is 12 years old. To the millennials in your life, it may as well be 100.
That’s because the technology world moves quickly, and when something goes mainstream—Facebook and its 1.7 billion users are definitely mainstream—young people often move quickly to something else. Where, exactly, are millennials (those 18- to 34-year-olds) spending their time? There are two main destinations: Instagram and Snapchat. Here’s what you need to know about both.
Think of Instagram as Facebook 2.0—a social profile where you can post pictures and videos, comment on and Like the information your friends share, and follow celebrities and businesses you might care about. If it sounds a lot like Facebook, well, that’s probably because Facebook owns Instagram, and has been slowly building out the app in a very Facebook-y way over the past four years, including a recent focus on video, much like Facebook.
Unlike Facebook, though, Instagram is still predominantly populated with young people, and hasn’t yet infiltrated the Baby Boomer generation like Facebook has. That doesn’t mean Instagram is small. It’s quite big, in fact, claiming 500 million active users and hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue each year. But it’s still young, and Facebook’s best weapon for both staying relevant with millennials, and holding off competition from this next emerging social network.
Snapchat is the rising star in the tech world, primarily because it’s different than most everything that’s come before it. It’s usually lumped into the social media category, but it’s really more of a messaging and entertainment app. On Snapchat you don’t have a profile where you share personal info about yourself or save photos. Instead, most of the things people share are private, and the photos and videos on Snapchat disappear after people look at them. It’s a feature that creates a much more intimate and private experience than you often get with Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, where your posts live on forever. (Or until you go back and delete them.)
Snapchat is also slowly moving into traditional media in an untraditional way—creating news reports and highlights around events like the Super Bowl or the Oscars by compiling user-generated photos and videos in addition to professional content the company collects itself.
All of this has made Snapchat an incredibly popular and sought-after business. It has 150 million daily users. Facebook once tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion. Snapchat turned it down, and it’s now worth more than $16 billion and on the path to becoming a publicly traded company.
in a world where fads come and go quickly, Instagram and Snapchat have established some serious staying power
There are other networks, of course, like Twitter-owned Periscope, which lets users broadcast live video directly from their phones. Or Musical.ly, an app for creating short music videos that’s popular with teenagers. But in a world where fads come and go quickly, Instagram and Snapchat have established some serious staying power.
Where are these services headed? Stay tuned for the next article in our social media series, where we’ll dig into the trends driving the social media business: the rise of video and the future of digital television.