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Snapchat widens lead over TikTok, Instagram as teens' favorite social media app: Piper Sandler

·3 min read

Snapchat (SNAP) is the reigning social media champion among teens.

The disappearing photo-sharing app ranked as teenagers' favorite social media platform in Piper Sandler's semi-annual "Taking Stock with Teens" survey for fall 2021. A total of 35% of surveyed teenagers cited Snapchat as their favorite social media platform, up from 31% in the spring and 34% in fall 2020.

Piper Sandler's report was based on responses taken between Aug. 17 and Sept. 16 from 10,000 teens across 44 U.S. states averaging 15.8 years old.

The results distanced Snap's lead compared to the No. 2 and No. 3 (TikTok and Instagram, respectively) preferred social apps among teen users. TikTok, owned by ByteDance, came in behind Snap with 30% of respondents citing the social media app as their favorite. This share was unchanged compared to the spring and was up by one percentage point compared to 2020. Facebook-owned (FB) Instagram was the preferred app among 22% of survey respondents to rank as third favorite among teens. The platform has lost ground compared to last year, when 25% of respondents cited the app as their favorite. And in last year's survey, Instagram had first ceded the No. 2 rank for favorite social media platform to TikTok, which saw a surge in popularity during the pandemic. Core Facebook, meanwhile, was cited as the favorite social media site among just 2% of teen users in fall 2021.

This illustration picture taken on 15 January 2021 shows the Snapchat logo displayed on a smartphone screen (Photo illustration by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
This illustration picture taken on 15 January 2021 shows the Snapchat logo displayed on a smartphone screen (Photo illustration by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

But while Instagram was not the favorite app among teen users, it was still the most used. The platform ranked first in teen monthly engagement, with 81% of respondents logging on at least once per month. Snapchat and TikTok followed behind, with 77% and 73%, respectively, using these apps on at least a monthly basis. Teens reported spending an average of 4.2 hours per day across all social media platforms.

"We are still confident in Snap's popularity among teens going forward, as Snap users check the app 30x a day on average," Piper Sandler director Tom Champion wrote in the survey. "Snap was again #2 for engagement behind Instagram, although only 4% behind Instagram versus 6% in Spring '21."

For Snap, the Piper Sandler survey results solidify the upbeat user trends seen for Snap in recent months. The company last reported 293 million daily active users for the second quarter, growing these by nearly 5%, compared to the prior quarter, and by 23% compared to the prior year.

Capitalizing on social e-commerce

And beyond their utility as photo- and video-sharing platform, social media platforms have also increasingly become avenues for shopping. Both Snap and Instagram have been leaning heavily into commerce as a way to further monetize and drive engagement on their platforms. Instagram has rolled out a number of options for users to shop directly from stories and posts over the past couple years. And this year, Snap has launched new augmented reality try-on capabilities in an early bid to allow users to digitally test out apparel, accessories and beauty products before purchasing. And companies have been working on building out visual search for shopping.

"We really believe that our opportunity is on the front end of the shopping experience, really how a shopper visualizes themselves with new products," said Snap CEO Evan Spiegel during a Goldman Sachs conference in September.

Piper Sandler's data confirmed the growing popularity among teens in using social media platforms as a forum for online shopping.

"It is also worth noting that 28% of teens have purchased one item directly from a social media site, up from 26% in Spring '21," Champion added. "We view SNAP as being in a great position to capitalize on social e-commerce going forward."

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter

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