Snapchat: Not Just For Whippersnappers Anymore

A new report from eMarketer notes that, yes, Snapchat continues to grow and that’s good news as it approaches its IPO. But a lot of that growth is coming from middle-aged people, who are, as you’ve no doubt experienced, total downers.

This year, 6.4% of Snapchat’s users will be between 45 and 54, up from the 4.2% previously projected,” eMarketer reports, and it’s not done with this alarming bulletin.  “In fact, projections for users all ages 45 and older have been adjusted upward. Meanwhile, projections for users 24 and younger have decreased slightly, as competition from rival Instagram heats up.”

Here in the Northeast, tree-huggers have nervously watched the progression of the invasive ash borer, devouring every ash there is. It’s sad to see, and so far unstoppable. Probably, the same is true for older demos smudging youth-focused social sites.



For years, Facebook has faced the nagging rumor that it’s the place where old people go, even as it’s really become the place for everybody to be.

Snapchat is being used by older demos as a place to watch content from networks and the NFL and the like, but not to communicate with each other with visuals, as the Snapchat name connotes rather exactly.

Younger Snapchatters are still there, but just not growing in any exciting way, by Internet standards. Whereas the growth in young/young adult demos is still going up by double-digit percentages, they’re not crazy numbers anymore.

Between 2015 and 2016, Snapchat’s 25-34 year old users increased by 48.3%. But this year, eMarketer says it will decrease to far less stop-the-presses-worthy 13.9%. And that’s true for all the young demos.

Old folks? There will be nearly 33% more 55-64s in 2017 than the year before, though still a piddly number in real terms--just 2.4 million people. But it’s where the growth is, statistically.

Yet Snapchat isn’t going to make it easy for older people to use it. In fact, in its SEC filing for its IPO, it felt compelled to explain to investors, with illustrations, just how in the world to use Snapchat.

That it’s hard to use is why young people like it. They get it; you don’t. One essayist refers to its minimalistic, parent-excluding brand aesthetic.”

Maybe because The Washington Post’s new front page motto is fresh in my head, I recollect its old marketing tagline, and it applies to Snapchat: “If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.”  It’s like, “Stay away.”  

So that march of older users doesn’t appear to ever be amounting to much; they’re just there to watch, not participate and that’s the way Snapchat wants it.

The eMarketer report notes a soft spot for Snapchat. In the last little while Facebook has ripped off Snapchat’s Story feature and continues to grow. At this point, Snapchat trails Instagram’s subscriber count by just 6.8 million, but eMarketer says Instagram’s poised to increase that lead to 9.5 million by 2021.

It seems Snapchat is banking more on keeping its established users engaged--the typical Snapchat user goes there an astonishing 18 times a day--than working on the body count.

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