Editor’s note: Janice Caston is VP global marketing at marketing research firm Toluna, New York. 

Since its debut in 2011, Snapchat has been gaining momentum. Users first gravitated toward the social network because it offered something no other social network at the time did: people could share images with their friends that would automatically disappear. Since then it has significantly expanded its features and exploded in popularity.

Fast forward to 2017, and Snap, the company which owns Snapchat, has recently gone public – sparking increased interest in how marketers can leverage the social network to communicate with potential customers and drive brand loyalty.

This March, Toluna surveyed more than 1,000 consumers in the U.S. to find out how different populations are using Snapchat and how they interact with brands on the social network.

Men and women on Snapchat

The data shows a distinct difference in how men and women use Snapchat. Women are most likely to use Snapchat to communicate one-on-one with close friends (37 percent), while men are more inclined to use the social network to follow the news (26 percent) or celebrities (23 percent).

Men are also far more likely to view branded content and to say that they like that content. In the U.S., 50 percent of men surveyed had used Snapchat Discover, compared to 40 percent of women. Additionally, when asked to pick their favorite Snapchat feature, men were twice as likely (22 percent of men vs. 11 percent of women) to select Snapchat Discover, a feature which allows users to view branded content, and indicated they are more likely to view celebrity content (48 percent of men vs. 44 percent of women). When it comes to interacting with branded content on Snapchat, the only area in which women outpaced men was using branded filters or lens (46 percent women vs. 44 percent men).

Men and women also reported different preferences for the types of brands they interact with using Snapchat. Fifty-one percent of men engaged with branded sports content (compared to 31 percent of women) and 61 percent of men engaged with branded technology content (compared to 35 percent of women). Women said they are slightly more likely to engage with entertainment brands (61 percent compared to 58 percent for men) and food and beverage brands (44 percent compared to 41 percent for men).

Not your mama’s Snapchat    

The survey also revealed that Millennials are more inclined than other generations to engage with branded content on Snapchat, while Gen X and Baby Boomers are more likely to use the social network to communicate one-on-one with close friends (42 percent of Baby Boomers vs. 30 percent of Gen Xers and 30 percent of Millennials). Interestingly, Baby Boomers were nearly twice as likely than other generations to say that their favorite Snapchat feature is that images are temporary, while Millennials were more likely than their older counterparts to prefer Snapchat Stories (31 percent of Millennials vs. 27 percent of Gen Xers and 18 percent of Baby Boomers).

Millennials and Gen X were close when it came to experiencing branded content but about 7 percent fewer Millennials said they had not viewed branded content.

Branded content: U.S. vs. U.K. 

Toluna also surveyed nearly 700 U.K. Snapchat users, uncovering some interesting differences between the two populations. U.S. Snapchat users are more likely than U.K. users to engage with branded content. U.K. Snapchat users reported that they are less aware of branded content on Snapchat than those in the U.S. 69 percent of U.K. respondents said that they mostly use the platform for communicating one-on-one with friends or sharing Snapchat Stories (compared to 57 percent in the U.S.).

U.K. users also said that they value frequently branded features such as Snapchat Discover lower than U.S. users. 7 percent of U.K. users claimed that these features were their highest motivating factor for using the social network, compared with 17 percent of U.S. users.

Research was completed via Toluna Quicksurveys between March 2 and March 5, 2017. The research surveyed 671 U.K. respondents and 1,054 U.S. respondents.