Snapchat and millennials

6 min

While Snapchat came in under its targets for Q2 2022, the app remains incredibly popular, coming in third place for the most used social media platform in France. Now, millennials (people born between 1984 and 1996) are the platform’s number one target.

Snapchat, the social network that ‘gets’ millennials

Snapchat has come a long way since it launched in 2011, both in terms of features and public perception. Its success among millennials, who were between 20 and 25 at the time, comes down to a few key points that set it apart from other social media.

Content that’s immediate and ephemeral

Between 2011 and 2016, the social media landscape didn’t look like what it looks like today. In fact, Snapchat played no small part in the evolution! The camera app’s very first use was for sending photos that self-destruct after a couple of seconds, and this is what’s at the very heart of the platform’s success. Later, users would be able to do the same thing with videos, leading to the app’s popularity among teens and young adults, who finally had the ability to send each other funny, risky, or embarrassing content without worrying about the indelible mark it would leave on their online persona.

Funny, friendly, and off the cuff

The Snapchat ghost quickly became the social network of short-form, ultra-personal, authentic, and off-the-cuff content. The quality of content isn’t of huge importance when it’s only going to disappear after a few seconds! To this day, Snapchat is considered the means of communication between friends and loved ones, through which users share portions of their lives, memorable moments, and funny things that happen to them… During the COVID crisis, the social network was of huge importance in bringing families and friends together throughout lockdowns and imposed isolation.

Stories and storytelling

Snapchat is also the inventor of “stories”, the feature that has become ubiquitous across all social media platforms. This now-well-known feature was launched in 2013 and allowed users to share a photo or a video on their profile for 24 hours. Stories didn’t last forever, making them the perfect format for more informal content than permanent posts, encouraging a certain frivolity and openness. Stories were hugely popular among millennials aged between 20 and 25 at the time, and the feature was quickly copied by Facebook and Instagram.

Snapchat and millennials: the figures

After 10 years of existence, Snapchat has succeeded in retaining its original target market, mainly made up of the 30-year-olds of today. According to a study carried out by Médiamétrie on a panel of the French public, Snapchat is the most used social network for 15- to 49-year-olds in 2022. Despite TikTok’s designs to dominate the market, Snapchat maintains the lead, with 12.9 million unique daily users, compared with 5.7 million on the short video sharing app.

The 25-34 age group (otherwise known as millennials) make up almost 25% of Snapchat’s user base in France. The app has certainly succeeded in growing up alongside its market! Snapchat is even boasting a growing audience among the over 35s. Media organisations and brands can therefore hope to reach several generations of social media users, playing with an informal and ultra-personal style.

Snapchat’s future-proof strategy

Snapchat is able to keep hold of its original user base thanks to the permanent evolution of its features, an important process in its strategy for growing old with its users.

On the one hand, as with any social media, Snapchat is adapting to the demands of its Gen Z users (take, for example, its Spotlight feature, a short-form video format clearly inspired by TikTok). But on the other hand, the app vows to keep hold of its older (over-30s) users.

This ambition was revealed in an internal memo sent by Evan Spiegel, Snap Inc. CEO, to his employees following the app’s Q2 2022 results. It has to be said that while Snapchat remains very popular in France, global usage hasn’t yet reached the growth targets set out by the company. In his memo, Evan Spiegel identified various strategies to drive this growth: developing a premium offer, augmented reality, and targeting 30- and 40-year-olds.

How to reach millennials on Snapchat

With 18 million active users in France, Snapchat is the ideal platform for brands that want to reach young people, especially millennials, whose unique social media behaviours nevertheless share similarities with those of Gen Z.

Be genuine and sincere

Snapchat is a friendly platform that’s all about being real. Millennials communicate with their loved ones through the app, so in order to be effective, Snapchat Ads and brands’ editorial content need to be aligned with this informal and off-the-cuff mood. Whichever channel is used (stories, Spotlight, DMs), Snapchat is above all else a deeply personal social network, meaning that brands and media organisations should base their messaging around informal, engaging, quirky communication. Brands on Snapchat shouldn’t be afraid of showing what’s behind the scenes, their less-well-polished side, to capitalise on friendliness and trust.

Create short and impactful content

Millennials are perhaps a more difficult audience to grab than Gen Z, but they are nonetheless exposed to a plethora of information online, especially on Snapchat. To grab their attention, you have to capitalise on short content that delivers a clear and impactful message. We all know that short formats (or “snack content”) is all the rage on social media, and this is particularly true of Snapchat! However, producing short content doesn’t mean you should short change your audience on the quality.

Share exclusive content that’s been designed for Snapchat

Other than stories, Snapchat has many unique formats and the world the app has created is nothing like other social networks. Millennials are demanding and they react well to being shown exclusive content that they won’t find elsewhere. Your communication on Snapchat should therefore be Snap-centric and make the most of the app’s animated filters, geofilters, messaging service, lenses, etc… There are so many tools on offer, so feel free to get creative and – above all else – create new content regularly. Yes, millennials on Snapchat get bored quickly! Of course, there is nothing stopping you downloading your Snapchat creations to share across other channels such as Facebook and Instagram.

Publish private and public stories

Snapchat lets you play with the privacy settings on your content to assimilate the app’s highly-personal feeling. It’s one of its huge advantages, and something that other platforms struggle to get right. Play around with customised communications and share some of your content as public stories to boost exposure, and other content as private stories to reinforce your bond with your existing community. In any case, creativity, authenticity, and the attention-grabbing potential are key reasons to reach millennials through Snapchat.