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"Who Is Really Using Social Media? A Look at User Demographics and Trends"

Per MarketingTrends.com 02/2024 YouTube continues to be the social media platform used by the broadest array of US adults. More than 8 in 10 (83% of) adults watch videos on YouTube, with usage high across demographic groups, according to the latest foray into social media use from the Pew Research Center.

The following is an overview of some of the highlights from the report, which is based on a survey conducted last year. For trend purposes, some of the following data is compared to a similar report issued by Pew Research in 2021, although it bears noting that there are some methodological differences in how the surveys were conducted.

For data on how the adult audiences of other media platforms are distributed by demographic group (e.g. what percentage of podcast listeners are ages 18-24), see MarketingCharts’ recently-released US Media Audience Demographics report.

Social Platforms

YouTube

YouTube adoption, which now stands at 83% among US adults, is up slightly from 2021, when it was at 81%. YouTube remains popular with both men (82%) and women (83%), with usage among women continuing to grow, from 80% in 2021 and 68% in 2019. Adoption is higher among multicultural groups, particularly among English-speaking Asian (93%) and Hispanic (86%) adults.

YouTube usage continues to be widest in the 18-29 age group (93%), though it’s almost equaled by 30-49-year-olds (92%). Use among older adults has risen noticeably. Some 60% of adults ages 65+ report using YouTube, up from 49% in 2021 and 38% in 2019.

YouTube adoption is highest among those in the top income bracket defined in the report. Some 89% of adults with an income of $100K and above use the platform. It also appears that the higher the level of educational attainment, the more likely the individual will use YouTube.

More adults living in urban (85%) and suburban (85%) areas watch YouTube than those that live in rural areas (77%).

Facebook

Facebook usage has remained consistent over the years, with the 68% of respondents reporting having ever used it in this latest study being essentially on par with the 2021 edition (69%). Facebook adoption continues to be higher among women (76%) than men (59%), though there are fewer gaps in usage by race/ethnicity than had been observed earlier.

When sorting by age group, adoption of Facebook is highest among adults ages 30-49 (75%). However, there are mixed trends in usage among older adults. A smaller share of adults ages 50-64 now say they use the platform (69%, down from 73% in 2021), whereas a greater share of adults ages 65+ now use it (58%, up from 50%).

Only two-thirds (67%) of adults in the youngest age bracket (ages 18-29) say they use Facebook, down from 70% in 2021. Considering that only one-third of teens (13-17) report using Facebook, this share is likely to drop further in coming years.

Unlike with YouTube, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between Facebook usage and educational attainment or household income levels.

Instagram

Instagram adoption has accelerated — reaching 47% of adults last year, up from 40% in the 2021 survey and 37% in 2019.

There are some notable discrepancies in Instagram use among demographic groups:

  • Women (54%) are considerably more likely to use Instagram than men (39%);

  • Hispanic (58%) and Asian adults (57%) are much more likely to use the platform than White adults (43%), though adoption is up among the latter;

  • Instagram use is higher among 18-29-year-olds (78%, up from 71%) than among 30-49-year-olds (59%, up from 48%), 50-64-year-olds (35%, up from 29%) and those ages 65 and older (15%, up only slightly from 13%);

  • Adoption levels rise alongside household income and educational attainment; and

  • Urban adults (53%, up from 45%) are much more likely to use Instagram than rural adults (38%, up from 25%).

Pinterest

More than one-third (35%) of US adults used Pinterest last year, up from 31% a couple of years earlier. The platform does have a couple of characteristics that differentiate it in terms of demographic variances.

One of those is that it has the widest gap in use by gender. About 2.5 times as many women (50%) as men (19%) use Pinterest.

The other is that along with Facebook, it’s the only platform in which rural adults (36%) have a higher adoption rate than urban (31%) adults.

There does appear to be a positive correlation between household income and Pinterest use, and adults with at least some college education are more likely than those without any to have ever used it.

TikTok

TikTok was used by one-third (33%) of US adults last year, and as such has been the fastest-growing platform, up from one-fifth (21%) of adults surveyed in 2021, as users continue to find the app highly engaging.

The platform is used more by women (40%, up from 24%) than men (25%, up from 17%). There’s also particularly high use among Hispanic (49%) and Black (39%) adults relative to Asian (29%) and White (28%) respondents.

As a teen favorite, TikTok use among the youngest adults (ages 18-29: 62%, up from 48%) is considerably higher than any other age brackets. Still, adoption rates are climbing among other age groups, as 39% of adults ages 30-49 reported last year using the app, up from 22% a couple of years earlier.

Unlike with most other social media platforms, TikTok use is lowest among those with the highest education levels, and also lowest among the highest-income households.

LinkedIn

Three in 10 (30% of) adults in the US use LinkedIn, representing little change from 2021 (28%). This is one of the few platforms where adoption is higher among men (31%) than women (29%), though by only a small margin. It joins Facebook and Pinterest as the only platform in which adoption is higher among White than both Black and Hispanic adults, though in this particular case the race/ethnicity with the highest usage by far is English-speaking Asian Americans (45%).

LinkedIn use also differs from most in its adoption by age group. The bracket with the widest usage is the 30-49 bracket (40%), with Facebook and WhatsApp the only others with this distinction.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, LinkedIn is far more likely to be used by adults with at least a college degree (53%) than those with high school or less (10%).

LinkedIn usage also is also far higher among the highest-income adults (53%) than lowest-income respondents (13%), and those living in rural areas (18%) are 40% less likely than average to use the platform.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is also one of the faster growing platforms, used by 29% of adults in the US last year, up from 23% a couple of years earlier. In that time period, WhatsApp has overtaken both Snapchat and Twitter in adoption.

What stands out the most with WhatsApp is its use among Hispanics. More than half (54%) of Hispanic adults use the communication app, up from 46% in 2021. That’s more than 2.5 times higher than the rate of adoption among White adults (20%). In fact, WhatsApp is the 4th-most used social media app among Hispanics, trailing only YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

It’s worth noting that WhatsApp use is also very high among English-speaking Asian adults (51%).

When sorting by age group, the results show that WhatsApp adoption remains at its highest among the 30-49 age group (38%, up from 30%) followed by the 18-29 (32%, up from 24%) and 50-64 (29%, up from 23%) brackets.

As with most other platforms, WhatsApp use is highest among the most well-off and well-educated.

WhatsApp use has more than doubled among rural adults (from 9% to 20%), but that is still only around half of the adoption rate of urban adults (38%).

Snapchat

Slightly more than one-quarter (27%) of US adults use Snapchat, representing not much change from 25% in 2021. Although adoption was equal among men and women in 2019 (24%), a gap has since emerged over the past couple of iterations of the survey, with 32% of women now using the platform compared to 21% of men.

Snapchat continues to be considerably more popular among younger users. Almost two-thirds (65%) of 18-29-year-olds use the platform, unchanged from 2021, while those ages 30-49 (30%, up from 24%), 50-64 (13%, compared to 12%) and 65 and older (4%, versus 2%) have a much lower rate of usage.

Unlike other platforms already discussed, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between usage and either education level, household level, or geographic location.

Twitter / X

Twitter/X usage has been mostly unchanged over the years, at 22% last year, compared to 23% in 2021 and 22% in 2019.

The adoption gap between men (26%) and women (19%) has widened a little from the previous survey. English-speaking Asian adults (37%) are the standout users when looking at races and ethnicities, ahead of Hispanic (25%), Black (23% – down from 29% in 2021) and White (20%) adults.

Twitter/X, again, shows a fairly clear pattern of age-related use, highest among 18-29-year-olds (42%, unchanged) and dropping with each successive age bracket to 6% of the 65 and older group (though that’s up from 2% in the previous edition of the survey).

As with several other platforms, Twitter/X use is broader among adults with higher household incomes and educational attainment and is more widespread among urban than rural adults.

Reddit

Reddit is used by 22% of US adults, up from 18% in 2021 and from 11% in 2019. That aligns with other research showing an increase in Reddit popularity in recent years.

Just as in 2019 and 2021, Reddit usage is higher among men (27%, up from 23% in 2021) than women (17%, up from 12%), although the gap has closed somewhat. Black adults (14%) are the least likely to use Reddit, while English-speaking Asian-Americans are the most apt (36%).

Reddit is used by the 18-29 age group (44%) most, with usage decreasing with age. Adoption is also broader among adults with higher household incomes and educational attainment. Unlike in 2021, urban adults now have a higher rate of adoption than suburban adults.

BeReal

The final platform on the list is also new to the survey this year. BeReal, a photo-sharing app that for a moment was rising quickly in popularity, is used by only 3% of US adults.

The platform has a higher adoption among women (5%) than men (2%), and is used the most by English-speaking Asian adults (9%).

The platform, like many others, has a youth skew, with 12% of 18-29-year-olds reporting use, compared to 3% or less of all other age brackets.

Adoption rates are too low to show any real patterns for other demographic variables.

For more, check out the full results here.

About the Data: The results are based on a May-September 2023 survey of 5,733 US adults (18+).

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