Which Messaging App should I use?

When to text, when to Snap and when to DM.

Both social networks and messaging apps have network effects, so you would expect messaging to be a “winner take all” market, like social networking. That happened in China (WeChat ran the table) and in many other countries (where WhatsApp dominates). But in the US, we have a strange fragmentation of messaging. People use different messaging apps for different purposes with different people at different times. Each platform has taken on a specific context. Each comes with a preexisting set of accepted user behavior that impact the way we communicate within the app. Although features and functionality are largely equivalent across the apps, the user culture matters.

This map can get complex. Users choose the messaging app where they think the recipient is most likely to see the message. Snapchat* is the default choice for teens to communicate with their close friends. But they’ll send a text to let their parents know that they’re running late. And they’ll slide into the Insta DMs of their latest crush. Facebook Messenger gets used for people whose phone number they don’t have. And for other users and use cases, there is Slack, LinkedIn, GroupMe, Kik, Signal, Telegram and more.

To try to make sense of the subconscious decision making process of “which messaging app to use,” we put together the following flowchart for US-based consumers:

We did our best based on our understanding of how these apps get used, but it can vary from group to group and user to user. Some people are still using Voxer, I’m sure, we just don’t quite understand who, and when. So let us know where we got it wrong in comments.

*Indicates Lightspeed investment