Adults in the US are still using YouTube more than any other social media: close to three-quarters of US adults use the platform, with usage high across demographic groups, according to a study from the Pew Research Center, which provides some updates on social platform usage.
The following is a brief overview of some of the highlights from the report. (Click on the above chart to enlarge it and see full details.) For trend purposes, some of the following data is compared to a similar report issued by Pew Research in early 2018.
For empirical data on how the adult audiences of these platforms are distributed by demographic group (e.g. what percentage of Snapchat’s US adult audience is aged 18-24), see MarketingCharts’ recently-released US Media Audience Demographics report.
The YouTube adoption rate, which stands at 73% among American adults, is consistent with 2018’s finding. YouTube is broadly popular with both men (78%) and women (68%) although usage among women has declined somewhat from 72% last year. YouTube adoption is higher among multicultural groups, with Hispanic (78%) and Black (77%) adults ahead of White adults (71%).
Although YouTube use among the youngest age (ages 18-24) bracket has dipped slightly (94% in 2018 to 90% in 2019), this age group retains the broadest adoption rate. However, the drop-off in use among older groups isn’t terribly stark in comparison to other platforms. Fully 7 in 10 adults ages 50-64 report using YouTube, as do 38% of adults ages 65 and older.
YouTube use does seem to be correlated with income and educational attainment, increasing alongside each. In other words, the higher the household income of the respondent, the higher the likelihood of YouTube usage, with the same pattern applying for educational attainment.
Finally, YouTube appears to be favored more by urban (77%) and suburban (74%) adults than those living in rural areas (64%).
Facebook’s reputation has diminished drastically over the past few years – and its usage, particularly among the younger generation, is decreasing. This Pew report shows that while it’s behind YouTube, Facebook still boasts adoption by more than two-thirds (69%) of the adult population.
As found in an earlier study, Facebook use remains considerably higher among women (75%) than men (63%). Among age groups, its adoption is somewhat consistent among the 18-24 (76%), 25-29 (84%) and 30-49 (79%) brackets. Although those adoption numbers appear high for young adults, it’s also true that very few teens see Facebook as their favorite social platform, so these adoption rates are likely to fall.
Facebook adoption among older age groups has increased, though (which could correlate to its fall from grace among youth!): this Pew survey finds that about two-thirds of 50-64-year-olds (68%) and almost half (46%) of those ages 65 and older have ever used the platform. In fact, the oldest age group is considerably more likely to use Facebook than YouTube.
The same household income and educational attainment patterns apply to Facebook as do to YouTube, for the most part. However, the gap between the highest and lowest brackets of each are a bit narrower.
Facebook is more commonly used by urban (73%) and suburban (69%) adults than among those living in rural areas (66%). It’s worth noting that while those living in rural areas still use Facebook less, the percentage doing so has jumped from 58% in 2018.
Instagram adoption keeps growing – now at 37% of US adults – and its popularity among teens continues to rise.
There are some notable discrepancies in Instagram use among demographic groups:
- Hispanic (51%) and Black adults (40%) are considerably more likely to use the platform than White adults (33%);
- Instagram use is far higher among 18-24-year-olds (75%) than among 25-29-year-olds (57%), 30-49-year-olds (47%), 50-64-year-olds (23%) and those ages 65 and up (8%);
- As with Youtube, those with higher levels of educational attainment are more likely to use Instagram than others; and
- More than twice the percentage of urban adults (46%) use Instagram than rural adults (21%).
While Instagram is very much a youth-oriented platform, it’s worth noting that more 30-49-year-olds say they use Instagram than use Pinterest, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Nonetheless, Instagram’s strength with youth is apparent as it’s striking to see that 18-24-year-olds are as likely to use Instagram (75%) as Facebook (76%) while the next age group up, 25-29-year-olds are far less likely to do so (57% and 84%, respectively).
Pinterest is used more than one-quarter (28%) of US adults and has a few characteristics that make it stand out from the pack in terms of demographic variances.
For one, it is the platform with the biggest gap in use by gender. In fact, women are almost three times as likely as men to use Pinterest (42% and 15%, respectively).
Notably, Pinterest is also one of only two platforms examined to have higher usage by White (33%) adults than both Black and Hispanic adults (27% and 22% respectively).
Moreover, it’s the only platform that lacks much difference in adoption among urban (30%), suburban (30%) and rural (26%) adults.
Finally, there seems to be a strong correlation between usage and both household income and educational attainment. Those with at least a college degree (38%), for example, are twice as likely as those with high school or less (19%) to use Pinterest.
More than one-quarter (27%) of adults in the US use LinkedIn, according to the report, with more men (29%) than women (24%) using the platform. This is a shift from 2018 where men and women used LinkedIn equally.
While Black (24%) and White (28%) adults use LinkedIn at a somewhat similar rate, the platform has not caught on among Hispanics (16%), although their adoption has increased in the past year.
LinkedIn’s adoption rate is highest among the middle age groups of 25-29 (44%) and 30-49 (37%) with adoption among the age group 18-24 (17%) seeing a decline from 2018.
LinkedIn is far more likely to be used by adults with at least a college degree (51%) than by those with high school or less (9%). This picture has been consistent over time, as seen even in 2015 or 2016.
LinkedIn usage also rises alongside household income and is highest among urban adults.
Snapchat, used now by roughly 1 in 4 adults (24%), trails LinkedIn in usage in this year’s report.
The adoption rate among men and women is now equal at 24%, and unlike last year where Black adults used Snapchat considerably more than Whites and Hispanics, adoption has leveled out for the most part on a racial and ethnic basis.
Keeping its status as a youth-oriented platform, Snapchat boasts an impressive 73% adoption among 18-24-year-olds, dropping to just 3% of adults ages 65 and older.
It’s also more commonly used by urban (29%) than rural (20%) adults. Interestingly, while there don’t appear to be any clear differences by educational attainment, unlike the platforms already discussed, usage decreases as income level increases.
Twitter usage has dipped slightly from 24% of adults last year to 22% in this year’s survey.
Adoption is slightly higher among men (24%) than women (21%), and use is also slightly higher among Hispanic (25%) and Black (24%) than White (21%) adults.
Twitter again shows a fairly clear pattern of age-related use, highest among 18-24-year-olds (44%) and dropping with each successive age bracket to 7% of the 65+ group.
As with other platforms, Twitter use is broader among adults with higher household incomes and educational attainment and is more widespread among urban than rural adults.
New to the list last year, WhatsApp is used by 1 in 5 (20% of) US adults.
Its distinguishing characteristic is its usage by Hispanics: fully 42% of Hispanic adults report using WhatsApp, a rate more than twice as high as the average.
WhatsApp usage is highest among the 30-49 age group (31%) followed by the 25-29 (28%) and 18-24 (20%) brackets.
As with most other platforms, WhatsApp use is highest among the most well-off and well-educated, but there is not a clear linear pattern of use when sorting by these variables.
Finally, just 10% of rural adults use WhatsApp, half the national average.
The final platform on the list is Reddit, used by 11% of US adults.
Usage among men (15%) is almost twice that of women (8%) while use among White (12%) and Hispanic (14%) adults is considerably higher than Black (4%) adults.
Reddit is used by the 25-29 age group (23%) the most, and use decreases from this point with age.
Following the pattern of most of the platforms, Reddit use is broader among adults with higher household incomes and educational attainment. However, it is the only platform used by more suburban adults than urban or rural.
Site Usage: Frequency
Facebook continues to boast heavy engagement among its users, per the study. Excluding LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Pinterest and Reddit from this particular section, the report shows that about three-quarters (74%) of Facebook users say they access the platform on a daily basis. This rate has remained consistent from last year.
Instagram and Snapchat have swapped spots from last year with 63% of Instagram users reporting they access the platform daily and 42% reporting doing so multiple times a day. This is compared to 61% of Snapchat users saying they access the platform daily. However, 46% of Snapchat users say they access the platform several times a day.
Meanwhile, roughly half (51%) of YouTube users use the platform daily while 42% of Twitter users visit the platform on a daily basis.
For more data, check out the report here. For more on the demographic make-up of various major media platforms in the US, see MarketingCharts’ US Media Audience Demographics report.
About the Data: Pew notes as part of the description of its methodology that: “The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 8 – Feb. 7, 2019, among a national sample of 1,507 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (302 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 1,200 were interviewed on a cellphone, including 779 who had no landline telephone). The survey was conducted by interviewers under the direction of Abt Associates.”