Rumors of Snapchat’s demise have been greatly exaggerated — at least if you ask Gen Z.
Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company, has had a rough time since going public in March 2017, as it’s been plagued by underwhelming user growth and its chief rival, Instagram, copying several of its features. But according to about two dozen teenagers TheWrap spoke with at VidCon 2018 in Anaheim, California, last week, Snapchat is the one app they can’t live without.
“I’d delete all of my other apps before getting rid of Snapchat,” Donna, a 16-year-old from El Segundo, California, told TheWrap.
“It’s [Snapchat] and then all the rest” added Lauren, a 17-year-old attendee, when asked to rank her favorite apps.
But why is Snapchat still on their Must Have lists? For one thing, high schoolers feel Snap is better for seeing what’s going on right now — it’s “very in-the-moment,” as Donna put it — whereas Instagram is “good for looking at stuff in the past.” That’s the case even with Instagram’s cloning of Stories, Snapchat’s feature for stringing together pictures and videos with a 24-hour time limit. Snapchat’s filters — the app’s calling card — also stands out, even as Instagram, again, adds its own version.
And, of course, Snap’s clandestine messaging is a major selling point for teens wary of their parents’ prying eyes.
“Snap [is my favorite], because my mom can’t figure it out,” 16-year-old Colin told TheWrap.
Several attendees also pointed to Discover — Snapchat’s designated tab for publisher and celeb content — as a draw. “When no one is texting me and I’m bored, I just go on Snapchat and look at [Discover],” said Gabby, a high school student from Los Angeles.
To be clear, this was not a scientific poll. While the anecdotal evidence at VidCon showed kids were overwhelmingly pro-Snap, even compared to Instagram, it contradicted a recent Pew Research poll that showed Instagram was slightly more popular with teenagers. And admittedly, it’s a bit uncomfortable talking to high schoolers about their social media habits — even when you’re only a decade removed from your high school graduation.
Still, it’s apparent Snapchat isn’t dead… at least to the teenage attendees. One thing worth pointing out: those singing Snapchat’s praises were “normal” kids, under 20 years-old, and weren’t creators. For those older than 20 and looking to make money from their social media presence, Instagram was king. Advertisers “don’t care” about Snapchat and YouTube, as bilingual social media personality Vivian Fabiola put it to TheWrap. “We use the [Snapchat] filters and repurpose them on other social platforms.”
The comment stood out, considering Snapchat underwent a controversial redesign earlier this year, in part to draw social stars back to the app. Instead, it’s continued strength with VidCon teens rested on what made Snapchat, well, Snapchat in the first place: spontaneous messaging, filters and privacy.
“I love [Snapchat],” one attendee told TheWrap, “because some things are just best sent on it.”