Survey Finds Teens Prefer Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat for Social Networks

A new survey may reignite the debate over teenagers’ use of Facebook FB +1.62%.

Piper Jaffray

In a Piper Jaffray semiannual survey of American teens, one-third described the photo-sharing app Instagram as their most important social network. Twitter TWTR +4.62%finished second, named most important by 20% of respondents, followed closely by ephemeral chat app Snapchat with 19%.

Trailing all three was Facebook Inc.’s main app. Only 15% of teens in the survey said Facebook topped the list.

The results are not all bad news for Facebook – the company bought Instagram in 2012.

The question of Facebook’s relevance to teenagers has percolated since 2013, when the company told investors that use among teens had declined slightly. Teenagers’ use of Facebook hints at its ability to stay relevant as its core audience gets older. Facebook declined to comment.

The social-media findings were part of a broader survey of teens’ attitude toward consumer brands, including apparel and electronics. Piper Jaffray has commissioned the survey twice a year for 15 years.

The most recent survey included 9,400 teens ages 13 to 19, a slight majority of whom – 56% – were male. They came from households with an average income of $68,000.

The social-media results were little changed from the spring 2015 survey. Snapchat passed Facebook, as the share of teens naming it their most important network grew to 19%, from 13%. Twitter’s standing fell to 20%, from 24%.

The findings support the view that younger users are less engaged with Facebook and prefer alternate sites. As recently as fall 2012, Facebook was by far the most important social network for the teens surveyed, at 42%, followed by Twitter and Instagram. Snapchat hadn’t yet launched.

Other reports offer a different view. In a survey released this spring, Pew Research Internet Project found Facebook the site used most frequently by U.S. teens between 13 and 17. The Pew report showed 41% of those polled described Facebook as the site they use most frequently, followed by Instagram with 20% and Snapchat at 11%.

A 2013 report by Pew showed that teens were growing increasingly frustrated by the presence of adults on the site, but few teens had actually dumped Facebook.

Last summer, nearly half of 4,517 teenagers surveyed by Forrester Research Inc.FORR -1.64% about social media use said they used Facebook more than a year earlier.


Deepa Seetharaman, Digits

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