Snapchat Is Growing Thanks to Older Americans, While Millennial Usage Declines

Instagram is luring some younger visitors away

Millennials aren't the only ones who enjoy a good dog filter. - Credit by Photo Illustration: Dianna McDougall; Source: Getty Images
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Snapchat is expected to grow its U.S. audience to 70.4 million by the end of 2017, according to a new report from eMarketer. This is an increase of 14.2 percent from 2016 usage numbers.

A Snapchat user, according to eMarketer, is someone who accesses the app at least once per month. While overall growth is projected to slow down by 2021, eMarketer is citing Instagram Stories as competition to Snapchat’s user base.

One of the biggest growing user bases in the U.S. are adults between 45- to 54-years-old, and they currently make up 6.4 percent of American users. Previous eMarketer projections saw that demographic at 4.2 percent.


At the same time, American users aged 24 and younger may decrease time spent on Snapchat as more people check out Instagram Stories.

“The usage trends are largely the result of a shift in the primary use case of Snapchat,” said Instagram forecasting analyst Jaimie Chung in the eMarketer report.

“Older groups are now more likely to tune in for content. The platform has multiple partnerships with television networks for mini-episodes. The younger groups are less likely to add Snapchat when Instagram Stories can fulfill their broadcasting needs.”

According to eMarketer, Snapchat was only behind Instagram by 6.8 million users in 2016, but the forecasting company expects that gap to widen to 9.5 million users by 2021.

“We’re projecting this gap to widen as Instagram focuses on growing its user base to maximize reach, while Snap Inc. seems to be focusing on keeping its niche audience engaged and spending more time within the app,” said Chung.

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@samimain Sami Main is social editor for Adweek, where she posts Adweek content onto social platforms and looks for creative ways to communicate what's new.