Snapchat users to grow past Twitter and Pinterest this year

Steven Loeb · June 8, 2016 · Short URL:

Despite growing its users by over 27%, Snapchat still can't catch up to Facebook Messenger

Snapchat keeps its user numbers pretty close to the vest, but now that the company has raised the largest single fundraising round in history, it's becoming more important to show that the company is growing. By all indications, Snapchat is not having any trouble in the user growth department.

In fact, Snapchat is about to surpass both Twitter and Pinterest in total number of users, according to data from eMarketer.

To be clear, eMarketer has a different definition of what constitutes a "user." Rather than go by the usual monthly average user number, or even the number of people who have signed up, the market research company instead only counts those that logs in at least one time, every month, over the course of a year.

By that metric, Snapchat’s user base in the United States will increase by 27.2 percent this year, to a total of 58.6 million users, compared to 56.8 million for Twitter and 54.6 million for Pinterest. That will give Snapchat 31.6 percent of all social network users.

By the time 2020 rolls around, Snapchat will be up to 85.5 million users, double the number that Twitter and Pinterest will have. By then Snapchat will have 42.2 percent of social users. 

Of course, it won't be able to sustain the same growth rate, which is already starting to fall as it becomes more ubiquitous. In 2014, it grew by 83.9 percent, which was nearly cut in half to 46.1 percent in 2015. It likely has one more year of double digit growth after this and by 2020, growth will have slowed to 7.3 percent. 

It should be no surprise that nearly all of Snapchat's growth is going to come from young people.

This year, the network is expected to grow its 12 to 17 year old audience by 20.6 percent, to 13.6 million, while and its 25 to 34 year olds by 40.4 percent, to 15.8 million. Those aged 0 to 11 are expected to grow the fastest this year, 42.9 percent, to 700,000.

Snapchat’s biggest user base, by far, is aged between 18 and 24. That group will grow to 20 million in 2016, and will make up more than a third of Snapchat’s entire user base this year. The 25 to 34 year olds will be 27 percent.

Ultimately, none of this big growth matters if Snapchat can't make inroads against what is likely its biggest rival, and what is certainly the top dog in social messaging. That means taking on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Things look pretty promising for Snapchat in this regard over the next few years.

First, it has already outpaced WhatsApp, at least in the United States, as Snapchat will have over 40 million more users this year (worldwide, there's no contest, as WhatsApp has a billion users across the globe). 

More importantly, Snapchat's grow is already ahead of where both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are, starting last year, when Snapchat grew 40.7 percent and Messenger grew 39.4 percent. This year, Messenger's growth will fall to 16.4 percent, and by 2020 it will be only 4.5 percent. 

Yet, Messenger will still be able to widen the gap over that period time. This year it will have 46.6 million more users than Snapchat. By 2018, it will have 53 million more users, and by 2020, that number will be 53.7 million. 

US Mobile Phone Messaging App Users and Penetration, by Platform, 2014-2020 (millions, % change and % of population)

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