Media & Entertainment

Facebook is Still King If You Want to Reach Young People. It’s Not Even Close.

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Those of us in marketing and media love to over-hype new things. Remember when “location-based” services like Foursquare were all the rage for about five minutes? Today, it’s Pokémon Go. Tomorrow it will be something else.

There’s no denying the emergence of Snapchat as a popular social media platform for young people. That’s not hype. In just a few years, it has surpassed Twitter and Tumblr in its overall user base, especially among younger Millennials and GenZ. As a result, brands are moving dollars to the platform to be where the cool kids are.

But we have to be careful not to allow the shiny new object in the room to blind us from the hard numbers. When it comes to the sheer size of its younger audience, Facebook – and its sister platform, Instagram – remain in their own stratosphere.

Let’s start with the fact that Facebook currently counts its total use base at over 1.65 Billion. Snapchat, comparatively, just passed 100 Million. Factor in the over 500 Million users of Instagram and the total reach of Facebook across demographic groups, is more than 21 times that of Snapchat.

Ok, but what about young people? Pew tells us that 41% of teens (age 13-17) are at least occasional users of Snapchat. That’s a big number – until you realize that 52% of teens use Instagram and a whopping 71% are on Facebook. The numbers are even more lopsided when you add Millennials. In our own data at CivicScience, the number of Millennials in the U.S. on Facebook (not even including Instagram) is more than double that of Snapchat.

If we go deeper, we can see why the disparity in these numbers is particularly important for brands and advertisers. Let’s look at Millennial and GenZ consumers in a big advertiser category like fast food/QSR.

Snapchat QSR

Of Millennial and GenZ consumers who eat fast food once a week or more, 34% are regular users of Snapchat. Overall, this graph bodes well for Snapchat in its efforts to attract QSR ad dollars. There is a clear correlation here: The more a young person eats fast food, the more likely they are to be on Snapchat.

But then look at this:

facebook QSR

Among Millennial and GenZ’s most frequent QSR diners, 65% (almost double that of Snapchat) are regular users of Facebook. Again, we see the same trend above: The more often someone eats at QSR restaurants, the more likely they are to be on Facebook.

For one more example, we looked at gaming (online, mobile, console, etc.) among GenZ and Millennials. Same story:

Snapchat video game

If you look at the 71% of younger consumers who play some kind of video games at least monthly, 31% of them regularly use Snapchat – a rate almost 20% higher than among non-gamers.

Facebook video games

Here again, Snapchat can’t hold a candle to Facebook, where an even 2X as many GenZ/Millennial consumers regularly spend their time.

We could highlight example after example from our database, but you get the point. Is Snapchat a popular place for young people to spend their time? Absolutely. But media and marketing is a numbers game. And, today, the numbers favor Facebook – by a longshot.

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