The future of social: Snapchat has eclipsed Facebook for under-35s

28 Aug 2017

A teenage Snapchat user. Image: AlesiaKan/Shutterstock

It seems that in a snap, Facebook and Instagram have been usurped in the under-35 age bracket.

The social network of choice for those under 35 in the Republic of Ireland is Snapchat, followed by Facebook and then Instagram.

That’s according to new research based on Facebook and Snapchat ad tools by Cork Chamber Business School ahead of the Cork Digital Marketing Awards, which will be held on 26 October.

‘Young people consider the cool kids to be their peers or those three to four years older than them (but not much older) and will follow them. I think the growth is going to be on Snapchat and Instagram or something new’

The research found that Facebook is still dominant for those 35 and older.

Daily users of Snapchat in Ireland stand at more than 1.75m daily, out of which 1.4m are under 35 and, of these, 975,000 are under 24.

The biggest Snapchat user group are aged between 18 and 20 years old (675,000), followed by 24-34-year-olds (425,000), 13-17-year-olds (400,000), 35 and over (350,000) and 21-24-year-olds (300,000).

Overall, Facebook is still the biggest social network used in Ireland, with 2.9m people on Facebook monthly, and 2.1m daily. Around 1.3m Facebook users are 34 and under, 630,000 are 24 and under, 340,000 are 20 and under, 200,000 are 18 and under, and 1.4m are 35 and above.

In Ireland, around 1.4m people are on Instagram monthly and 800,000 daily. Among these, about 980,000 are 34 and under, 520,000 are 24 and under, 290,000 are 20 and under, 170,000 are 18 and under, and 460,000 are 35 and above.

Speaking ahead of the awards, Aoife Dunne, manager at Cork Chamber Business School, said that the trends are obvious in the kind of entries being received.

“We’ve noticed in the past few years the number of entries referencing Instagram and Snapchat going up while Twitter and Facebook entries were remaining static. This year, we have a dedicated category for Snapchat and Instagram, and it’s one of the most popular.”

Socking it to them

Damien Mulley – a Cork-based social media expert and consultant with the Cork Digital Marketing Awards, and founder of the Irish Blog Awards, the Irish Web Awards and the Social Media Awards (Sockies) – told that Snapchat could one day soon eclipse Facebook and other platforms such as Twitter.

“Facebook Stories, the copy of Snapchat stories, is going nowhere,” Mulley explained.

“Nobody is using it. I think Facebook will still be huge but when young people are only using Messenger on it (plus Facebook allows you to sign up to Messenger now without having a Facebook account), then, over time, it will grow smaller but that will balance out with Instagram hitting the 1bn user mark and retaining a younger audience.

“Facebook will still make money as the Facebook ad system works perfectly well for Instagram. I would see Instagram get close to a 1bn users by February or March next year.”

Teens in the recent past have dismissed Facebook as a kind of awkward family dinner party. We asked Mulley if he believes Facebook will continue to attract young users or if it is just for the oldies now.

“Yeah, that quote wasn’t flippant! I have seen and heard teens saying they don’t like Facebook ’cause parents and grandparents keep writing on their walls and then sign off thinking it’s like email – ‘That’s a lovely photo, hope you’re well, love Nan x’ – that kinda thing.

“I actually have also seen that myself. I don’t think younger people find Facebook attractive anymore. Young people consider the cool kids to be their peers or those three to four years older than them (but not much older) and will follow them. I think the growth is going to be on Snapchat and Instagram or something new.”

A tweet for your thoughts?

Mulley, a Twitter stalwart, believes that the 140-character social network also has its cards marked.

“Twitter is an amazing place for influence and guiding media who then influence the general population. From my own number machinations, it’s not growing. They show in their own reports that year-on-year growth is in decline. It’s a bit stagnant and they seem to be making small changes since they seem to be in a holding pattern until they find a buyer.

“Facebook adding Stories to their app is a ballsy move. It hasn’t worked but they tried. It takes a huge engineering feat to do something like that on an app used by a billion people a day. I can’t see Twitter taking a chance like that. It’s still relevant because nothing is supplanting it. Facebook does a terrible job of trending things. In fact, the flooding in Houston has shown Snapchat is a new place for showing things to the public.”

A teenage Snapchat user. Image: AlesiaKan/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years