Youth-Oriented Social Platforms Gain Middle-Aged Audiences

April 12, 2021

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Featured | Social Media | Youth & Gen X

EdisonResearchTritonDigital Social Brand Usage 35 54 Y O Apr2021Although younger people have been enamored with social platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok for some time, it appears as though older users are starting to use these brands more. The most recent Infinite Dial Report released by Edison Research and Triton Digital shows that US adults ages 35-54 have upped their usage of these social media platforms in the past year.

The biggest uptake in use for middle-aged adults has been with TikTok. In 2020, only 5% of 35-54 year-olds reported using the app. That percentage has more than tripled in 2021 to 16%. These older users likely helped to contribute to the surge in the average hours spent per month with TikTok last year.

Instagram and Snapchat also had a slight lift in users ages 35-54. Some 40% say they now use Instagram (up from 38% in 2020), while 21% are using Snapchat (up from 19%).

Instagram Most Commonly Used Among Youth

Instagram is again the most used social media brand among 12-34-year-olds, with a full 70% currently using the app. This is up slightly from 68% in 2020. And, although Snapchat usage among this age group has shrunk from 61% in 2020 to 55% this year, it retains its position as the second-most-used social media brand.

TikTok usage among younger users has climbed this year, as well. Some 44% now use the social media brand, compared to 25% who reported using it during the 2020 survey. This growth is not too surprising considering Marketing Charts’ own research found that TikTok users ages 18-34 made up about half of all its US adult users, while Piper Sandler revealed that TikTok is now one of the most preferred social media platform among teens.

What might be a bit more surprising is the uptake in TikTok usage among adult ages 55 and older. While usage is still fairly low (6%), it has tripled since 2020 (2%). Instagram has also seen a slight increase in usage among older US adults, rising from 15% in 2020 to 17% in 2021.

Facebook Out of Favor with Youth

Instagram is the social media platform used most often by younger social media users, with one-third of users ages 12-34 saying they used the platform the most often. Facebook ranks second for the amount of use; however, the share who say they use it most often has dwindled from 62% in 2017 to 32% in 2020 and 21% in 2021.

However, Facebook remains the most used platform among older social media users. Some 6 in 10 users ages 35-54 and 7 in 10 users ages 55+ say they use Facebook most often.

TikTok is making some headway as the most used platform among youth. Some 14% of 12-34-year-olds now say they use it more than any other social platform.

While usage is still relatively low for TikTok compared to other more established platforms, awareness has increased. Some 86% of the total US population (ages 12+) are aware of the brand (up from 64% last year). This is on par with awareness of Instagram (89%) and Snapchat (86%).

To read more, the full report can be found here.

About the Data: Findings are based on telephone interviews conducted in January 2021 among 1,507 Americans ages 12+.

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