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The company may start to lose the coolness factor, but it could be on its way toward dominance
Snapchat may have been founded to be the anti-Facebook, but it looks like its going to be following in the footsteps of the biggest social network in one very important respect: it's becoming increasingly mainstream, graduating from cool new startup to ubiquitous network.
Snapchat is growing among two important demographics: older Millennials, who are aged 25 to 34, and those 35 years-and-older, according to data out from comScore.
In just three years, Snapchat has increased 660 percent among the older Millennial group, from 5 percent of smartphone users to 38 percent. Growth was nearly the same in the 35 and up group, going from 2 percent to 14 percent, a 600 percent increase.
Of course, it still has its greatest penetration among younger users, with 69 percent of those aged 18 to 24 using the app on their phones. But those other two groups are starting to catch up.
Snapchat has made great inroads with younger users; earlier this year Millenials picked the app as their top social network for the first time. With older users now coming on board, though, the company may find itself in a similar situation to Facebook a few years ago, when reports started coming out that teens were no longer interested in joining.
Basically, teens had begun rejecting those older networks, it was said, instead focusing on newer networks. They wanted to find a place of their own, where their parents couldn't spy on them. Among those those teens listed was, you guessed it, Snapchat.
Of course that wasn't going to last forever. Newer networks were always going to come along, appealing to a new generation of users, and, if Snapchat wanted to survive, it was going to have to broaden its appeal beyond only teenagers. Frankly, this was inevitable, and it's likely the best thing that can happen to it.
Becoming a mainstream network
Obviously teens are still using Snapchat in droves, so the company has nothing to worry about right now. Once it really does lose that coolness factor, though, the looming question is what's going to happen to it. If Facebook is any indication, it's going to be more than fine.
First, it should be noted, that the whole "teens are rejecting Facebook" thing turned out to be completely overblown, as Data out from comScore in March, showed that, while Facebook is seeing a lower percentage of young people than its rivals, younger people still spend a lot of time there. Far more than any other network, in fact, including Snapchat.
Only 16.5 percent of Facebook users are aged 18 to 24, tied with Pinterest for the second-smallest percentage. Only LinkedIn is lower with 15.5 percent. In the next age group, 25 to 34 years old, Facebook actually comes in last, with 20.3 percent.
However, Facebook still remains, far and way, the network that the 18 to 24 year olds spend the most time on, coming close to nearly 1,000 minutes per visitor, per month. Only two other networks even reach 200 minutes: Snapchat and Instagram. That might be due to the different ways those apps are used, with Facebook's longer feed and Snapchat's disappearing content, but it shows that Facebook has not suffered among teenage users as much as many thought it would.
While the aging of its population could become a problem down the line, right now Facebook is still blowing away its rivals.
It's properties, meaning the flagship Facebook app, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, account for 1 in every 6 minutes, 17.2 percent, spent online, and more than 1 in 5 minutes, 21.2 percent, spent on mobile.
Ultimately, Facebook has got 1.55 billion worldwide monthly users, and is expected to reach half the entire population in the United States this year, or 162.9 million people. On top of that, in Q1 of this year, Facebook saw revenue of $5.38 billion for the quarter.
It could only reach those types of stats, and revenue numbers, by broadening its base. Sure, Facebook is no longer the hip, young start up it once was, but it has become the most powerful player in the game. Now it looks like Snapchat might be on a similar path toward dominance.
(Image source: janefriedman.com)
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