Move over Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter--the title for coolest social media app, at least according to teenagers, belongs to another.
According to "Taking Stock with Teens," a semi-annual report from consulting firm Piper Jaffray, Snapchat was voted the "most important" social media platform for the first time ever among 6,500 respondents. With 28 percent of the vote, it beat out the next most popular social media platform--Instagram--by just 1 percent among the 13-19 year-olds surveyed.
Snapchat's demographics do skew younger than any other social media platform--almost half of its users are between 18-24 years old, according to Internet analytics company comScore. But in spite of a bump in popularity, more teens still use Facebook than Snapchat, perhaps out of habit. An April survey by the Pew Research Center found that 71 percent of 13-17 year-olds were on Facebook, compared to 41 percent who were on Snapchat.
What makes the ephemeral messaging app so popular? One theory is that Snapchat--with its "rainbow vomit" and other wacky filters for photos and videos, puts less pressure on teens to present a "perfect" identity to their peers than Facebook, an idea set forth by technology commentator Gillian Branstetter in The Daily Dot last year:
Snapchat, on the other hand, allows teenagers to experiment with humor and emotion--in order to better figure out how they relate to their peers. Snapchat's very infrastructure mirrors the spontaneity of teenage life itself, which is an extremely important aspect for adolescents attempting to craft an individual personality. If Facebook expects you to present a unified self to the world, Snapchat allows you to make it up as you go along.
Another idea is that because the video messages on Snapchat more closely mirror face-to-face interaction, it's a more intimate and personal way to communicate with peers.