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Facebook paying $1 billion for the Instagram app teens love

April 11, 2012|By Jessica Guynn
  • Instagram's co-founder and chief executive, Kevin Systrom, left, works alongside engineer Shayne Sweeney in their San Francisco office.
Instagram's co-founder and chief executive, Kevin Systrom, left,… (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated…)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook is buying the youth vote.

Instagram isn’t your mother’s or your grandmother’s mobile app. Its users trend far younger than Facebook’s, according to a study from Experian Hitwise.

More than half of the visitors to Instagram’s website are under the age of 35, said Heather Dougherty, Hitwise’s research director. Facebook’s website draws a more mainstream audience (read here: gray hair).

In fact, over the last four weeks, most Instagram users were between the ages of 18 and 34, whereas Facebook drew users between 25 and 34 as well as 55 and older.

Instagram isn’t just a hit with teens, it’s a habit. Teens are prolific users of the service. They snap photos on their smartphones and iPads, jazz them up and then share them with their friends.

A 16-year-old broke it down for parents in a post for Radical Parenting on the five reasons teens can’t get enough of Instagram.

Appealing to younger users is the secret to the fountain of youth for tech companies. Tweeted former Facebook executive Brandee Barker: "Based on my amateur surveying of tweens addictive preference to Instagram, seems Facebook got a great deal." Facebook is paying $1 billion for the hugely popular photo-sharing app maker.

The San Francisco company says it has more than 30 million users. It’s hard to get an accurate independent measure of Instagram’s popularity because most of the activity takes place on smartphones. But its growing popularity is evident in the findings of researchers. ComScore shows that the website pulled in 8.2 million unique visitors in March, up from 859,000 in March 2011, almost a tenfold increase.

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