A recent report from the Pew Research Center has confirmed that YouTube and Facebook are still the most widely used social media platforms in the United States — although only one is on the up. The study conducted through phone surveys found that although both Facebook and YouTube hold the top spots, YouTube remains singular for its growth.
Whereas Facebook’s numbers have remained essentially unchanged since 2019, YouTube’s share of users has increased from 73 percent of adults in 2019 to 81 percent in 2021. Reddit was the only other platform polled that experienced statistically significant growth during this period – increasing from 11% in 2019 to 18% today.
Facebook’s numbers remain solid and stable
That is not to say Facebook doesn’t still occupy an important spot regarding how many people spend their time. As the report surmises, “Facebook’s growth has leveled off over the last five years, but it remains one of the most widely used social media sites among adults in the United States.”
Despite the fact that there has been quite an active discussion unfolding over the last few years regarding our relationship to social media, it is interesting to observe how unchanged and stable use remains. When it comes to Facebook, seven in ten users say they use the site daily, including 49% who say they use the site several times a day.
Social media use may have reached a plateau
Likely indicating that social media use as a whole has leveled off, the respective shares of Americans who report using Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter and WhatsApp are statistically unchanged since 2019. This represents a broader trend that extends beyond the past two years in which the rapid adoption of most of these sites and apps seen in the last decade has slowed.
Newer apps continue gaining traction with younger users
Even as other platforms cannot compete when it comes to the overall reach of YouTube or Facebook, certain sites or apps, most notably Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, have an especially strong following among young adults. A majority of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use Instagram (71%) or Snapchat (65%), while roughly half say the same for TikTok.
Smaller shares – though still a majority – of Snapchat or Instagram users report visiting these respective platforms daily (59% for both). And being active on these sites is especially common for younger users.
Implications for advertisers
As the study indicates a degree of stability in social media use, advertisers should continue focusing on Facebook for older target audiences, but be aware that younger demographics spend more time on Instagram and TikTok.
In terms of YouTube’s enduring legacy of growth, there is definitely room for innovation when it comes to advertising on this channel. Although it might not be the most intuitive part of a social media advertising strategy, the numbers suggest that it is worth taking a bit of extra time to learn the fundamentals and best practices for different types of ads and campaigns. As many users remain annoyed with the current state of YouTube ads, there is also an opportunity for advertisers to rethink how they approach YouTube as part of an overall social media strategy and leverage the increasing popularity of this platform.