While the young may be categorized as the most technologically savvy, it’s true that people of all ages use social media apps.
Having access to a huge network of friends and family in your pocket is appealing, and that fact registers in the app store, where social media apps dominate the top Android and iPhone apps.
While people of all ages are using social media apps, how do these age groups use social media apps differently?
Older Users Check Facebook More
Mark Zuckerberg and his friends founded Facebook in 2004 and 14 years later, the service has over 2 billion active users. Keep in mind, the world’s population is about 7.6 billion as of March 2018. That’s a huge percentage on Facebook.
This explains why Facebook is far and beyond the most popular social media app, according to a recent survey. Nearly 90% of social media app users check Facebook daily, with Instagram trailing in second place at 49%.
Younger people are characterized as the most addicted to their smartphones and social media. You’d think that across the board, millennials are checking social media platforms more than other generations. This isn’t the case, though.
Interestingly, baby boomers (55-years-old or older) check Facebook slightly more than Gen Xers or millennials.
However, given the size and longevity of Facebook, this isn’t too surprising. While younger users may spread their attention on social media over several platforms, older users may use Facebook exclusively.
“The older respondents are not about to jump to the next thing in social media platforms because they’re still getting their bearings on how to navigate a social network and how they can use it to their advantage,” explained Alex Levin, co-founder of L+R, a creative agency.
Furthermore, millennials may be more likely to jump to the next new social media platform, instead of sticking around on Facebook.
Facebook’s size and age can be its disadvantage – it cannot meet the unique demands of every user, and often cannot pivot its approach without causing controversy (i.e. see Facebook’s recent algorithm change).
Millennials Love Snapchat
Millennials check Snapchat daily far more than Gen Xers and baby boomers.
Especially after its controversial recent update, Snapchat can be a quandary for many potential users. Yet, millennials appreciate its affinity for personalized and on-demand content.
With Snapchat, “[Millennials] can choose to tune in and out,” explained Levin. Unlike with Facebook’s newsfeed, “they’re not forced to look at everybody’s information. It puts them in control of seeing it or not.”
Josh Krakauer, founder and CEO of Sculpt, a social media marketing agency, said that Snapchat’s focus on the camera is also appealing to younger users.
“One major reason why Snapchat is such a dominant force with a younger audience is that the entire experience is designed so that the camera is the communication tool,” said Krakauer. “It’s really changed how millennials communicate with each other and feels like a more personal space.”
Furthermore, Snapchat is an example of “shareable design.”
Most people consider good design to be intuitive – users learn how to operate an app with little explanation.
Many features of Snapchat aren’t intuitive, though – such as a two-finger pinch on the camera screen, which brings up a map of your friends’ locations.
This motion isn’t clearly explained within the app – many users of Snapchat may learn how to use the “Snap Map” by watching their friends.
This turns into free advertising for Snapchat.
“It’s converting you into an evangelist for its product, and you don’t even feel like you’re evangelizing: You’re just showing your friends how to do something neat,” explained Josh Elman, a partner at Greylock Partners.
While older users may grow frustrated by Snapchat’s intricacies, millennials possibly see it as an opportunity to learn something new.
Social Media Offers Different Opportunities for Different Generations
Social media apps aren’t just for the young – they are pervasive enough to be used frequently by all generations.
But different ages prefer different types of social media apps. While the breadth of Facebook can appeal to all age groups, millennials remain invested in Snapchat’s personalized content and sometimes complicated design.
Understanding how different ages using social media apps helps a business if they are seeking to build a similar mobile app.
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