How Are Americans Using Social Media?

Date posted: April 10, 2018

social media

What’s the latest on your customers’ social media habits?

By Rieva Lesonsky

The Pew Research Center recently released the results of its latest study on US social network use. Here are some of the trends you need to know to make your social marketing a success.

What’s the most popular social media network?

You might be surprised. Although it’s not always considered a traditional social media site, YouTube actually ranks number one in terms of popularity. Almost three-fourths (73%) of all US adults use YouTube, including a whopping 994% of those aged 18 to 24. Even among the 65-plus demographic, 40% use YouTube.

Facebook is the second most popular social site, used by about two-thirds (60%) of all US adults. It also encompasses a wide range of demographics.

Overall, Facebook and YouTube are head and shoulders above the rest of the social networks in terms of popularity. None of the other sites in the survey are used by more than 40% of Americans. (The survey covered Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and WhatsApp.)

More than one

Americans aren’t limiting themselves to just one social network: The average American adult in the survey uses three of the eight social media platforms measured. The average 18-to 29-year-old uses four social platforms; those aged 50 to 64-year-olds use two platforms on average; and the average respondent 65 and older uses just one.

Overall, use of each social media network in the survey has grown steadily compared to past surveys. Instagram enjoyed the biggest jump in popularity: More than one-third (35%) of US adults now use it, up from 28% in 2016.

Different demographics, different social media

The majority of Americans of all ages use social media, except for those 65 and up. However, even among that demographic, 37% use social networks. Here’s the rest of the breakdown:

  • Age 50 – 64: 64%
  • Age 30 – 49: 78%
  • Age 18 – 29: 88%

Pew broke the youngest age group down into two demographics (18 – 24 and 25 – 29) because the two groups had significantly different behavior. The younger people are, the more likely they are to use Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. For example, almost eight in 10 (78%) of 18 to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, compared to just 54% of those aged 25 to 29.

Hooked on social media

Social network use is not a once-in-a-while or even once-a-day habit. Almost three-fourths (74%) of Facebook users check it daily; more than half (51%) visit Facebook multiple times a day. Sixty-three percent of Snapchat users and 60% of Instagram users visit those sites at least once a day (usually more). Forty-six percent of Twitter users and 45% of YouTube visitors do the same.

Not surprisingly, considering how often we use social sites, survey respondents showed some reluctance to give it up. Younger users are more entrenched in their habit. More than half (51%) of social networking users aged 18 to 24 say it would be hard to give up social media; however, only one-third of users over 50 feel the same way.

Social media stats

The survey also uncovered some other interesting stats:

  • The more affluent survey respondents are, the more likely they are to use social media in general.
  • The more educated survey respondents are, the more likely they are to use social networks.
  • Urban dwellers are more likely to use social networks than people in the suburbs; rural dwellers are least likely to use it.

Certain social networks are more popular with different demographics:

  • 41% of women use Pinterest, compared to 16% of men.
  • LinkedIn is most popular with college graduates and high-income Americans.
  • 49% of Hispanics use WhatsApp, compared to 21% of blacks and 14% of whites.

Social media takeaway

What does this information mean for your small business’s marketing plans? Rumors of social media’s death are greatly exaggerated, as the consistent growth of all the platforms in the survey shows. However, there are some important differences in terms of which social networks attract which demographic. In order to succeed with social media marketing, you need to pinpoint which networks your target customer base favors, and focus on those.

Photo by Saulo Mohana on Unsplash

Related Stories »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

5 social marketing trends you should know about!

The Best Digital Channel »


A Guide to Choosing the Best Digital Channel for Your Business
Read More…