Digital marketers are struggling mightily to understand how to reach consumers and prospects across social media. A platform that looks like the dominant king one day may quickly slip behind in new adoption and usage. Today’s trends may appear to be little more than a flash in the pan tomorrow. The challenge for marketers is to understand which platforms to leverage and when to reach new audiences, especially those key younger age groups that actually are the trend setters, even when those audiences have proven to be impressively fickle.

New research of Generation Z shows just how tough it has become to discern long-term trends with social media, and confirms how fleeting its members’ infatuation with previous leading platforms really is. The survey, of more than 300 college and high school students, the core demographic of Generation Z, was conducted earlier this month by the market research firm SCG. The top findings – not too surprising: This age group loves social media, and visits its favorite platform upwards of 11 times each day. What is surprising: That platform isn’t Facebook or Twitter. In fact, these younger millennials are all about Snapchat.

According to the survey¬† 78 percent said they were daily Snapchat users, while slightly fewer–76 percent–reported using Instagram every day. Facebook was down to 66 percent. And while that not might not seem like a huge difference, consider that Facebook is now the granddaddy of social media yet a full third of the next generation of users are not tethered to it. They really like SnapChat’s fun new features, such as the different augmented reality lenses that were such a hit last year and its Geo-fencing tool. And before feeling sorry for Facebook, its dominant position in the market, including not just Facebook but its ownership of Instagram and WhatsApp, means it will be the 800-pound gorilla in the market for years to come.

But what does this mean for marketing investments on these platforms to reach new and emerging audiences? In short, don’t get hung up on platforms that may seem dominant today but could just as easily lose their mass appeal very quickly. Remember Twitter? Thanks to our politicians, entertainers and sports figures, it’s still a significant factor in how people get their news. But as a marketing platform, it’s not particularly useful and that reality has hit it financially as it struggles to find a business model. We’re still quite bullish on Facebook for marketing investments because it has great tools to hyper-target key audience types, but we’re also looking down the road to see what’s next for our clients. We think Snapchat and Instagram, through their story features, has a lot of value. But we’re not getting too wed to any single solution. A better approach is a broad mix that is flexible enough to reach target audiences wherever they are.

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