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Business News/ Companies / News/  Why Instagram has become the next Facebook

Why Instagram has become the next Facebook

Instagram beats Facebook among the post millennials, or Generation Z, reflecting an increasing urge for self-promotion, finds a 'YouGov-Mint' survey

Instagram’s popularity among millennials and post-millennials is the highest in Mumbai followed closely by Delhi. Photo: Getty Images/AFPPremium
Instagram’s popularity among millennials and post-millennials is the highest in Mumbai followed closely by Delhi. Photo: Getty Images/AFP

Mumbai: India’s urban youth spends more time on social media compared with their older counterparts, with Instagram emerging as the favourite among the youngest lot, shows a recent survey conducted by market research firm YouGov in collaboration with Mint.

While Facebook remains the most popular social media platform among the millennials, Instagram beats Facebook among Generation Z. This is in line with the trend witnessed in the US, where teenagers now use Instagram more than Facebook, according to Pew survey data.

Millennials and post-millennials (Gen Z) are increasingly becoming the target-group of global marketers who want to sell an ever-growing list of goods and services to a digitally-connected demographic group.

Millennials refer to those who attained adulthood in the early twenty first century, and grew up at a time when the world increasingly became digitally connected. In this analysis, millennials refer to those born between 1981 and 1996 or those aged 22 to 37 years in 2018. Those born after 1996, i.e. those aged 21 years or below, are here referred to as the post-millennials or Gen Z.

Population projections from the UN Population Division suggest that the Gen Z population already exceeds millennial population in India.

The YouGov-Mint Millennial Survey was conducted online—among 5,000 respondents from YouGov India’s panel of internet-users spread across more than 180 cities. A little less than a thousand belong to Gen X (aged 38-53 years) in this sample. Older millennials (aged 29-37 years), younger millennials (aged 22-28), and post-millennials (aged 18-21) all have more than a thousand representatives in the sample. Those born before 1965 (pre-Gen X) have been excluded from the analysis.

Among Indian metros, Instagram’s popularity among millennials and post-millennials is the highest in Mumbai followed closely by Delhi, the survey shows. LinkedIn seems to be the most popular in Bengaluru. Facebook’s popularity cuts across cities, the data shows.

Yet, Facebook is no longer the most popular network for the youngest cohort. That space has been ceded to Instagram, the photo-and video-sharing mobile application which Facebook acquired in 2012. The preference for Instagram among the younger generation might reflect an increasing urge for self-promotion. Studies, based largely in the US have linked the growing appeal of Instagram to narcissistic tendencies. It is argued that Instagram is tailored for projecting an image of oneself, while Facebook offers more scope for social interaction and networking.

Another reason behind Instagram’s rise could be the fact that internet is mostly accessed through mobile handsets in India. This might explain how Instagram, specifically designed for mobile-only access, could beat platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn which operate on multiple devices.

The survey shows that Twitter and LinkedIn continue to remain popular among middle-aged working population, possibly because of more strictly defined functionalities.

To be sure, there remains considerable reciprocity in usage of social media platforms, i.e. users of one platform also tend to use other ones. To illustrate, among the age group of 18 to 37 years, 85% of Instagram users also use Facebook while 71% of Facebook users also use Instagram among millennials and post-millennials.

What is common across the younger and the relatively older cohorts is the concern over privacy being compromised owing to use of social media. However, the younger generation appears relatively less worried compared with the older cohorts, perhaps a reflection of the innocence of youth.

As expected, the relatively older groups are more likely to use internet for work-related stuff and online shopping, while the youngest lot—generation Z—is more likely to use internet for education. Around 70% of respondents in the age group of 38 to 53 years said they used internet for online shopping, while only 59% of Gen Z—age group of 18 to 21—said so. The lower percentage among Gen Z could be attributed to many of them being students and thus having lower purchasing power. Urban youth are also more likely to use the internet for entertainment than for accessing news.

This is the first of a four-part data journalism series on India’s digital natives. The second part will examine the job preferences of millennials, and will appear next Monday.

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Published: 27 Aug 2018, 09:30 AM IST
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