Commentary

Will Snapchat Weather The Flood Of Older Users?

More than any algorithm or mobile feature, Facebook’s single greatest achievement was weathering the arrival of non-cool (read: older) users. For people of all ages and cool quotients, the social giant just became too useful to give up.

Now Snapchat faces the same challenge, as older users are finally figuring out what all the fuss is about.

ComScore estimates that 38% of 25-to-34-year-old U.S. smartphone users are now on Snapchat -- up from just 5% three years ago, which means it's officially breaking into the mainstream.

Over the same timeframe, meanwhile, the share of U.S. smartphone users over the age of 35 has risen from 2% to 14%.

Of course, the majority of Snapchat users are still relatively young. Overall, about 69% of 18-to-24-year-old U.S. smartphone users are on Snapchat -- up from 24% three years ago.

We don’t know exactly how Snapchat is trending among children and teens, because the research firm doesn’t track users younger than 18. Anecdotally, however, I can tell you they’re crazy for the app.

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What does the near future hold for Snapchat?

“Snapchat isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, so I would expect to see them continue to grow their audience across all demo segments,” Adam Lella, senior analyst at comScore, tells me.

“Of course, the 18-to-24-year-old segment is already nearing full penetration, so growth there might naturally slow,” Lella notes.

“I would expect to see much of the growth come from the 25-34 y/o segment (i.e., older Millennials), which has been catching on slower than the younger Millennials, but still has a lot of room to grow, and also is an audience that likely has an easier time understanding the product’s appeal (vs. Persons 35+).”

Meanwhile, “The 35+ segment is the most interesting, as it’s starting to reach a critical mass of users nearing 15% penetration,” Lella added.

“I would expect that penetration number to continue to inch up, but I don’t foresee it coming anywhere near Facebook’s high levels of reach among older users anytime soon.”

Of course, whether this is good or bad for Snapchat still remains to be seen.

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