NEW YORK — Maybe Facebook should have tried harder to buy Snapchat.
The disappearing messaging app just surpassed Instagram as the “most important social network” among teens, according to a new Piper Jaffray report.
In a survey of 6,500 U.S. teens, 28% named Snapchat as the most important service compared to 27% who named Instagram. (The teens surveyed ranged in age from 14 to 19.)
While the one percentage point difference may seem insignificant, the change in perception over time is very significant.
Instagram has been at the top position of this study for almost two years. Last spring Instagram was named by 32% as the top choice of teens, and last fall 33% named it as the most important.
Snapchat was named by 13% and 19% during those same time periods.
Twitter and Facebook were third and fourth in the latest survey, while Yahoo-owned Tumblr rounded out the top five.
Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion. The following year, Facebook tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion.
Snapchat turned down the offer and hasn’t looked back.
In both cases, Facebook wanted to grow its audience and product line.
With Instagram, it gained an app that appealed to people who skewed younger and female.
Snapchat could have given Facebook that plus a popular messaging platform.
Given how dominant messaging apps have become, it’s no surprise that teens say Snapchat is the most important social network. Messaging is a just form of socializing, but it’s more intimate, and doesn’t force people to think about how to broadcast their personality across the Web.
It’s important to note that Piper Jaffray’s study measures the perception of Snapchat among teens and not actual usage.
But a recent independent study by Edison Research and Triton Digital found that usage aligns with this perception. The survey found that 72% of Snapchat’s users are between the ages of 12 and 24. On Instagram, it’s 66%.
Both perception and usage numbers are important for advertisers who want to associate themselves with the right platform and target certain customers.