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As Instagram growth stalls, Pinterest surges to become the 3rd biggest social media platform in the US

Research firm eMarketer reports that US user growth for Instagram fell to single-digits, for the first time ever, in 2019.

eMarketer projects a continued decline for Instagram, and has revised its US growth rate projections for Instagram for the next two years downward, to 4.5% in 2020 from 5.4%, and to 3.2% in 2021 from 4.1%.

The research firm said older age groups are not joining the platform as quickly as it originally anticipated, and the resurgence of alternative apps in the same space makes it difficult for Instagram to sustain any kind of high growth.

On the other hand, Pinterest is surging on its more universal appeal across age groups, and this week it edged Snapchat to take the #3 spot on the list of social media applications by US users, trailing Facebook and Instagram.

The news is a significant shake-up in the social media pecking order, and could signal that Snapchat has begun to lose its luster among the millennial users who for years have given the social media app a distinct cachet.

Tyler Sonnemaker, Business Insider

Pinterest’s rise is good news for publishers, who have been benefiting from increased referral traffic and engagement from the platform. One of its latest offerings is a new tool called Pinterest Trends, that provides users with unique insights into emerging trends from the “world’s largest focus group.”

According to eMarketer, Pinterest finished 2019 with 82.4 million US users—posting a growth of 9.1%—while Snapchat ended the year with 80.2 million users. 

The company projects that Pinterest will have 86 million US users at the end of 2020, increasing its lead on Snapchat, also adding that the gap between the two platforms will continue expanding through 2023.

While Snapchat has a young core audience that it caters to, Pinterest has a more universal appeal, and it’s made significant gains in a wide range of age groups.

Nazmul Islam, eMarketer junior forecasting analyst

eMarketer’s data shows how Pinterest users in the US are more evenly represented across all age groups, while Snapchat skews younger.

Pinterest has made an effort to keep its platform welcoming for all visitors,” says Gavin O’Malley Editor at Mediapost. “For example, it debuted a ‘compassionate search’ experience last summer and enlisted entire teams to ensure users’ experiences were generally positive.”

eMarketer says Pinterest users will make up 41.1% of all US social network users in 2020. The social media platform makes the bulk of its revenue from US users and is in the early stages of efforts to boost international ad sales.

Pinterest’s efforts to differentiate its platform as a “visual discovery tool” more akin to Google than Snapchat seem to be paying off. Pinterest Inc. shares soared by 13% after eMarketer’s report showed it surpassing Snap Inc.’s Snapchat to become the third-biggest social media platform in the US.