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Do you believe that Snapchat still has a special niche?

Snapchat is loosing popularity, especially since Facebook recently introduced filters. But Snap has a secret weapon that will continue its streak of prosperity and innovation as Facebook ramps up its assault. Its weapon: the Digital Darlings (Gen Z).

Snap fills a niche for Digital Darlings that Facebook, or Instagram can never fill unless they purge their current user bases, and rebuild them from scratch; or acquire Snap. To understand Snap's strong defense and potential future, we need to understand the social media habits of their core audience: Digital Darlings.

Defense 1: Darlings are visually driven.

Darlings are significantly different from their Millennial counterparts in the way that they consume media. As new research appears, one thing is certain: Darlings are attracted to visual platforms. Civic Science found that on a daily basis, Darlings are 53% more likely to use Snapchat than Millennials, and Barkeley Marketing found that Darlings lead Snapchat usage at 61% compared to 34% of Millennials-- that's nearly double the overall usage.

Both Civic Science and Barkeley Marketing also find that usage on visual platforms, like Instagram and Vine, by Darlings, is up to 200% higher than that of Millennials.

Why this is important: Facebook is not inherently a visual platform, especially since most information comes in the form of written content or external links. Yes, there is graphic and video content, but it's not structurally core to Facebook as a product. On the other hand, Snap is inherently a visual platform with minimal written content, from bitmojis to stickers, to filters, to geotags. As a result, the platform aligns directly with the habits of Digital Darlings.

Defense 2: Darlings are all about maintaining different personas.

According to Jaclyn Suzuki, creative director at Ziba Design, more than 75% of Darlings today feel comfortable having multiple online personas. And this shows in social media habits.

Take a look at the following platforms: Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.

Unspoken, but universally known to Darlings, Instagram is the platform for one to post their aspirational selves. It is where people put images and videos of their gains, perfectly plated food, and travels. It is the platform for who we want to be.

In it's heyday, Facebook was the platform for creating content, and for older generations, it still is. However, as Barkeley has found out, the 77% of Darling Facebook users use it as a passive tool; that is "they are scrolling rather than posting".

Essentially, to the newer generation, Facebook is more or less a centralized information center. Moreover, Facebook is also used as a way to share what you're up to with your family and friends you don't see frequently. As a result, content is generally heavily filtered to be "family friendly" since most people have their family and relatives on their Facebook. Not only is it a database, it is the platform for whom others define us to be.

Now Snapchat occupies a different space, given that the content does not stay by default. As a result of the heightened sense of privacy and security, people are driven to be more bold about their content. Darlings use the platform as a means to share their everyday. It is the cradle for Darling's meme culture which has lead to the infamous eggplant, and dog filter. It is a place where people are "dank", "edgy", have "no chill", or are "shook" by current events. It is a place for poop pics, rants, dogs, and the odd. It is the platform for who we currently are.

Managing all of these personas comes naturally to Darlings who grew up in a time of social media. They know the social consequences of mismanaging who they are, so they don't. Try posting Instagram-type content on Snapchat-- most people will tap through quickly without really registering the nuanced visuals. Try posting Facebook-type content on Snapchat-- people will not be able to read your long, emotionally vulnerable statuses within the max time limit. Try posting Snapchat-type content on Facebook-- older family members and relatives will awkwardly interact with the post or censure you for something so core to your everyday existence.

Why this is important: Facebook and Instagram may have Snapchat's exact core product, but because of the different

nature and audiences of the three platforms, Darlings won't necessarily leave Snapchat completely because the platforms serve different niches, and reward their users in different ways.

Darlings are less loyal to brands.

Brand loyalty is not important for Darlings. According to Vision Critical Survey, 41% of Darlings hold some level of distrust versus a figure of 31% for Millennials. In other words, Darlings are 33% less likely than Millennials to swear their loyalty to one brand. This includes the different social media platforms that exist out there, especially Facebook. This statistic is important because it reveals that Darlings will use the same product for different purposes. Granted, they are curated to the appropriate audience.

Implied in the current anti-Snap narrative is that Facebook's stealing of Snap's audience is zero sum game, but it's not. In reality, there is overlap of MAUs in the definite tens of millions-- that the user bases are not mutually exclusive of each other. Many of Facebook's MAU are also Snap's MAU. Darlings are using Stories, My Day, and Snap for the same purpose, within the same time window.

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