UPDATED March 15, 2017 — Taking into account Snapchat’s IPO, we’ve updated this post to include relevant facts and figures made recently available. The original figures from this post have been preserved and updates are clearly marked. For further explanation on Snapchat’s IPO, see our explainer post. We’ve also compared Snapchat’s IPO to those of Facebook and Twitter in a single cheat sheet and put together a forecast outlining why Snapchat Spectacles are on track to be the next $5 billion product by 2020.
Since Snapchat was launched by Stanford University students Bobby Murphy, Reggie Brown, and now-CEO Evan Spiegel in 2011, the “ephemeral messaging app” (called such because photos and videos disappear after they are viewed or, in the case of Snapchat Stories, after 24 hours) has grown exponentially and evolved into far more than just a way for people to send vanishing content back and forth.
Although Snapchat’s prevalence in mainstream culture is expanding (evidenced by the rise of Snapchat influencers like DJ Khaled and, as the L.A. Times reported, by billboards displaying the app’s now-iconic ghost logo), determining exactly how many people use Snapchat to communicate and get information about the world around them, and make decisions can be a tricky undertaking.
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As Fortune’s Robert Hackett succinctly puts it, “the growth of Snapchat’s mobile video traffic is staggering.” Snapchat users view more than 7 billion videos on the app every day, a figure that puts Snapchat’s engagement on par with Facebook (which has roughly 15 times more users than Snapchat). According to an article in the Financial Times, Snapchat’s video views have tripled since last May, a statistic that illustrates the app’s meteoric rise.
UPDATE — Following the introduction of Instagram Stories, Snapchat’s “staggering” growth has stagnated. Despite positive signs of growth early in the year as Snapchat saw its Daily Active Users number climb by 10 million in a few months, that growth flattened in the wake of the arrival of Instagram Stories in August. With functionality that closely mimics Snapchat’s core feature set, Instagram is a huge competitor and poses a major threat to Snapchat.
Related Post: A Timeline Of Snapchat Advertising, Innovation, & Growth
Young people especially love Snapchat for its ability to provide a window into the lives of friends, celebrities, and Snapchat influencers while facilitating self-expression through unique and impermanent Snapchat Stories. According to digital marketing firm Omnicore, the percentage of Snapchat users who are under 35 now stands at 70%, and the app’s U.S. penetration rate (how many people use the app compared to the total population) is a staggering 11%.
Graphic courtesy of HubSpot
The exact number is a bit murky, primarily because Snapchat has eschewed the Monthly Active Users (MAU) measure preferred by Facebook and Instagram, opting to use a Daily Active Users metric instead. By this standard, Snapchat puts its number of users at over 100 million, though Spiegel has been quoted as saying that more people watch college football games on Snapchat than on network television, which would put the number of Snapchat users well over 200 million. (By comparison, Facebook claims 1.59 billion users, Instagram 400 million users, Twitter 320 million users, and LinkedIn 100 million users.)
UPDATE — According to the Snapchat IPO paperwork, the app has 158 million Daily Active Users who create over 2.5 billion Snaps each day. Those Daily Active Users also open Snapchat an average of 18 or more times every day and spend an average of 25 to 30 minutes on Snapchat.
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While other social media platforms focus on their total number of users, Snapchat relies on engagement rates to entice brands looking to reach new audiences. According to Venture Beat, more than 65% of Snapchat users regularly contribute content, and a recent Business Insider article reveals that Snapchat users spend an astonishing 25-30 minutes per day on the app.
Graphic courtesy of Column Five and Marketo
UPDATE — We’ve updated our Snapchat user demographics and statistics infographic with the updated figures presented in Snap Inc’s IPO filing:
As Adage’s Victor Pineiro explains, “Snapchat offers something unique in the world of mostly-broadcast, feed-centric social media—intimacy at scale.” This intimacy can mean a lot for marketers, especially as younger audiences are expressing distrust of traditional advertising mediums or simply avoiding them altogether (see our article on declining T.V. viewership and how brands can combat this growing trend here). Couple Snapchat’s ability to genuinely connect with the platform’s 100–200 million followers (often by partnering with Snapchat influencers) and the fact that Snapchat content and/or ads take up the entire screen (and thus achieve 100% visibility), and brands have a recipe for reaching large numbers of consumers with content that actually converts to sales and inspires users to make purchasing decisions.
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