The Year of Snapchat and Instagram: this is how social networks have grown in 2014

Image | Pesto Verde

What do you do when more than 1,350 million people use your social network at least once a month? How can you keep growing? Yes, as you may well have imagined, I’m talking about Facebook. The network was very clear on what to do about this dilemma: on the one hand try to gain new users in other countries or (and that may be one reason behind the initiative and, on the other, acquire other services that attract new users.

In the case of Facebook, there were many who raised their hands to the sky in shock when they announced the 1,000 million dollar Instagram acquisition in April 2012. Now, with the numbers on the table, this purchase can make all the sense in the world: the app as announced by topped 300 million monthly active users a few days ago.

The Year of Snapchat and Instagram: this is how social networks have grown in 2014

Image | @somospostpc

It has only taken nine months to get 100 million new users as well as remaining a very international application: over 70% of them come from outside the United States. Regarding activity, every day more than 70 million videos and photos are shared using this application. That’s 70 million, people!

To put these figures into further perspective, Facebook has, as we said, 1,350 million active users, with 864 million using the social network every day (numbers from the last quarter). Twitter, in contrast, has remained stuck at 284 million active users and cannot seem to keep growing. Instagram is leaving it in the dust.

Why is this good for Facebook? Because it is diversifying. There are several studies revealing how the leading global social network is struggling to win over teen users. What is the favourite social app among young people according to these reports? Instagram, of course. And it belongs to Facebook. Maybe Facebook will go out of style some day and do a “MySpace”. But unlike this now fallen network, Mark Zuckerberg and company are future-proofing by “buying” anyone who may be eligible to take Facebook’s place. We have already seen this with WhatsApp, which has become the de facto standard for instant messaging.

Snapchat, another app to keep an eye on

The Year of Snapchat and Instagram: this is how social networks have grown in 2014

Image | Global Web Index

Snapchat has become a benchmark in many countries, although it has not reached the heights of Instagram or other social apps in Spain. It is, in fact, one of the social networks that together with Instagram and Tumblr, has grown the most in 2014. Such is the phenomenon caused by its ephemeral messaging that there are rumours that Facebook tried to buy it. Zuckerberg’s company also launched a clone, but without much success.

So what’s so great about Snapchat? It’s a photo messaging app that introduced the “temporary” concept: the photos that users send are only available for between one and ten seconds when the receiver opens them. They are then automatically deleted from the phone.

This was its one and only function to begin with, although it has continued to add further features since then. This year we have seen how it has allowed users to send text messages, videochat or even send money

And all this has been aided and abetted by the numerous injections of capital it has been receiving in recent months although some of the most rumoured ones (there was talk of Tencent, Yahoo or Alibaba) were never actually confirmed. What’s more, they also have the answer to one of the main questions they were being asked: how are you going to monetize the application? They are currently doing tests with adverts.

How many users do they actually have? Here we have to rely on third party surveys, because the company does not reveal this type of information. They do tell us, however, the activity that those users create: more than 700 million snaps sent daily, thus becoming the most used messaging app for swapping photos.

Should Facebook be worried?

Competitor apps and services are still a long way behind Facebook in terms of users. However, the rapid growth of these platforms shows just how far the social concept has evolved in recent years. You only need to compare how you once used Facebook (or Tuenti, VKontakte or others) to how you use it now to realize that is not the same thing.

This is precisely why apps like Snapchat or Instagram are growing by being cool for the kids. They no longer see Facebook as a social network to communicate with friends, but as an “old school” social network where their parents hang out. What’s more, the stats also seem to tell us that mobile will have a lot to say about how social networks (or rather social apps) will develop in the future.