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October 28, 2020
10/28/2020

The Friendship Report 2020 [Global]

Insights on how to maintain friendships, navigate endships, and stay connected during COVID-19
A study conducted by Alter Agents and Snap Inc. exploring how relationships evolve across distances and through major life events, as well as the vital role digital communication plays in cultivating and sustaining friendships
Since Snapchat launched in 2011, our mission has been to foster and facilitate authentic communication between friends, wherever they are. 
In normal life, most conversations are ephemeral. They aren’t recorded and certainly don’t last forever. And so, neither do Snaps. At Snapchat, everything we design is created to make interactions feel as authentic as possible, mirroring the ebb and flow of conversations we hold in real life. Tools like our augmented reality Lenses, Filters, and personal avatars, like Bitmoji help Snapchatters express themselves and interact visually. They serve as an essential connector when meeting face-to-face is not an option.  
Some of our best memories with friends come from doing things together. That's why we launched Snap Games and Minis over the past 18 months—so Snapchatters can continue sharing experiences, even when they’re apart. We’ll continue to evolve and improve as we carry out our mission to support and nurture friendships, wherever people are.
Our initial global Friendship Report was released in 2019 to examine the state and nature of friendship around the world. The report was broad in scope, diving into attitudes about friendship and what helps make them healthy and long-lasting.
An important finding in last year’s report was that our closest friends are key to our happiness, often from early life— and while most of us do have close friends, some of us don’t. 
What makes or breaks close friendships
For the second edition of the Friendship Report, we wanted to understand why. Did some of us not make those close friends in the first place, or did we lose them along the way? In a year where COVID-19 has fundamentally changed how we interact with our friends, understanding what causes friendships to thrive or falter and the impact of this pandemic is more important than ever.
We spoke to 17 of the world's leading experts on friendships for a deeper dive into how relationships evolve across distances and through major life events, and how to mend and maintain friendships. We also conducted a global survey with Alter Agents polling 40,000 nationally representative people ages 13-40 in Australia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. From this research, we've gained a better understanding of what we can do at Snapchat to make it easier for friends to communicate authentically and maintain their relationships, regardless of what life throws at us. 
Read on to see our key findings and download the full report.
Staying close during COVID-19
While COVID-19’s challenges have changed how we maintain our friendships, the pandemic has also made some of us more generous with our newfound time. When asked to think about the effects of COVID-19 on their friendships, 67% of people surveyed said their friendships have not been impacted. A third (33%) of respondents said they feel that COVID-19 has changed their relationships— but 47% of them said they now feel closer to their friends than before.1
For Snapchatters, this closeness is even more pronounced. Over half (54%) say they are significantly more likely to feel closer to their friends now than before COVID-19, compared to those who don’t use Snapchat (39%).1
On the flip side, nearly half of those surveyed agreed that they feel more distant from friends because they couldn’t spend time in-person (45%).1
But the shift hasn’t brought all bad news. As culture coach Julien Bourrelle notes in one of our interviews, “many Scandinavians feel that the limitations imposed due to COVID-19 brought them closer to their friends.” Bourrelle says they shifted to organizing activities online and were more inclusive in their invitations, building more ties than they would have otherwise.1
Among the 30,000 people we surveyed, we saw a near-universal agreement that digital communication tools have been a vital resource while social distancing in the pandemic. Only 7% of people reported feeling that digital communication hasn’t helped them stay close with their friends.1
Donya Alinejad, who studies digital media and migration, describes in another interview the importance of visual communication to create a sense of “co-presence,” which results in “a feeling of being together when you’re actually physically distant.” Feeling as though we’re actually together is important “for a whole host of reasons,” Alinejad says, particularly “for those who are in need of or require a kind of emotional support.”1
Losing touch and reconnecting
Even before the pandemic, a staggering 79% of Snapchatters said they had lost touch with a close friend from elementary or primary school,2 with 66% wanting to get back in touch with them.3 This is especially important given that just over half of people (51%) consider peers they met at school to be their closest friends. In fact, a third of those we surveyed met their very best friend (33%) during primary or elementary school. On average, good and best friends have known each other for over half of their lives (54%).1
People in the US, UK, and Norway were the most likely to say they have experienced such a loss, but losing touch with a close friend is the least prevalent among those in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and India. Along with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), those in KSA and India are among the most likely to want to get back in touch, whereas people in the UK are the least likely to want to reconnect.
Building—and rebuilding—bonds from a distance
In response to findings from the report, Snap launched The Friendship Time Capsule, a fun new feature that allows friends who can't be together in person to create new shared memories through AR on Snapchat. The feature uses machine learning to allow friends to get a glimpse of their friendship in a variety of scenarios in the future.
The Friendship Time Capsule also serves as a new sort of escape. Looking at data from prior to the pandemic, Snap found that the single event most likely to strengthen a friendship was taking a vacation together (64%).1 With travelling no longer on the table for the immediate future, we wanted to create a way to support our community and imitate this experience. Through AR, the app allows Snapchatters to pool positive thoughts with their friends about where they’ll go together in the future.
When it comes to friends who are no longer in touch, we found that people would most like to reach out through a photo of them and their friend together (42%) or by sending a photo that reminded them of a shared memory (40%). Humour also ranked highly, with a third thinking that sending a funny meme or GIF would be the best way to reconnect (31%).1 
The Friendship Time Capsule addresses all three of these concerns—by enabling Snapchatters to share fun images with their friends in various locations and at different ages, we hope to bridge the gap for those who have lost touch.
Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi used the feature to reach out to childhood friend Adam Warrington, saying: “Adam is one of my oldest pals from back home, we started off together playing shows out and about in tiny venues in Scotland. He’s an incredible guitar player and is usually off playing around the world with Yungblud now! It’s nice to have someone you grew up with going on to do amazing things and more so than ever, now is the best time to stay in touch with old friends”
Download the report to learn more

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12020 Alter Agents study commissioned by Snap Inc.
2Snap Inc. survey of AU, FR, DE, IN, IT, NL, NO, SA, ES, SE, AE, UK, US Snapchat users July 04 - 22, 2020. Age and location data subject to restrictions. See https://businesshelp.snapchat.com/en-US/a/audience-size-tool for details. Question: "Have you ever lost touch with a close friend / best friend?"; 10052 respondents
3Snap Inc. survey of AU, FR, DE, IN, IT, NL, NO, SA, ES, SE, AE, UK, US Snapchat users July 04 - 22, 2020. Age and location data subject to restrictions. See https://businesshelp.snapchat.com/en-US/a/audience-size-tool for details. Question: “Is there a close / best friend from your past that you would like to reconnect with?”; 9431 respondents