WNA Blog

Sun 15 May 2016

Disruptive Trends: What Snapchat Shows About the Next Generation

Business By Social

Snapchat is a relative newcomer on the social media stage and is one of the fastest growing platforms.  Instagram is the largest photo sharing network and the third largest social platform on the world after Facebook and YouTube.

While the different platforms are interesting in themselves, what is more interesting is how they are used by the different generations.

Where are we now?

Snapchat started as mainly a self-destructing photo platform. People took a photo (or snaps), which would disappear in as little as one second after being opened by the person who the snap had been sent to.

In the early days of the platform, this self-destruct ability made it popular with teenagers and people who liked to take photos of parts of themselves that were normally covered by bathing costumes.

And then something strange happened. It started to morph away from raging hormones to mainstream use.

Snapchat is now one of the most popular platforms for 13-23 year olds, with over 100 million active daily users sending 400 million snaps per day.  (1) (2)

In comparison, Instagram has 75 million active daily users who post 70 million snaps per day. The average Instagram user is 18-29. (3) (4)

The main difference is that Snapchat is seen as the total antithesis of Instagram by those who use it.

When you think of Instagram, you think Kim Kardashian with a highly styled, staged version of reality. People post images to Instagram that show an ideal life, where every sunset is perfect, every morsel of food divine and every person is beautiful.

People spend hours planning their Instagram worthy photo and will take stacks of photos to get one that is worthy to be shared.

Snapchat is used differently. Snapchat is in the moment. A through your eyes view of what you are seeing, doing or experiencing right then and there, with no fancy staging, lighting or make-up.

It is a warts and all view of life, with users sending snaps of them pulling faces, and snaps of what they are seeing when they are walking (even if it is just their feet and a footpath).

Users take delight in being totally raw and unpolished. This realness is enhanced by one of the features of Snapchat where you can overlay your face with an ever changing array of digital masks.

Want to vomit a rainbow – you can. Want to turn into a zombie – you can do to. How about becoming a drag Queen, or a post-modernist painting? No problem!  Done and shared with your friends to give them a laugh at you with just one click – with the photo evidence still self-destructing in seconds.


Gen Y was the “all about me” generation and is the generation where reality TV was born. Instagram is the perfect reflection of their generation, with perfect selfies and ideal lives.

Gen Z is the “get real” generation. They are cynical about too much gloss, and don’t like being too public. They connect more online than face-to-face. They are hyper connected and socially aware. Snapchat is the ideal reflection of their generation. (5) (6)

The rapid rise of Snapchat shows how quickly Gen Z’s are growing as an influence on the market. How they will disrupt the Gen Y’s self-absorption is still an unknown, but it is going to be one hell of a ride.

Further Reading

  1. http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/snapchat-statistics/
  2. http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/snapchat-is-the-fastest-growing-social-network-infographic/624116
  3. http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/important-instagram-stats/
  4. http://sproutsocial.com/insights/new-social-media-demographics/
  5. http://growingleaders.com/blog/six-defining-characteristics-of-generation-z/
  6. https://www.knoll.com/knollnewsdetail/what-comes-after-y-generation-z-arriving-to-the-office-soon

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