Social Networking Platforms’ User Demographics Update 2021

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African-American | Boomers & Older | Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Featured | Hispanic | Household Income | Men | Social Media | Women | Youth & Gen X

Pew Social Platform Use by Demographic Apr2021YouTube remains the social media platform used by the most US adults. Some 8 in 10 adults view videos on YouTube, with usage high across demographic groups, according to a study from the Pew Research Center.

The following is an 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 2019.

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.

Social Platforms

YouTube

YouTube adoption, which now stands at 81% among US adults, is up from findings in 2019 when it stood at 73%. YouTube remains popular with both men (82%) and women (80%), with usage among women increasing markedly from 68% two years ago. Adoption is higher among multicultural groups, with Hispanic (85%) and Black (84%) adults ahead of White (79%) adults.

In 2019, YouTube usage among the youngest adults (ages 18-24) dropped to 90% after being at 94% in 2018. This year, usage has risen to 95% (note: age range for this current report is ages 18-29) and represents the broadest adoption rate across all demographic groups. Use among older adults has risen noticeably. Some 83% of adults ages 50-64 and 49% of those ages 65 and older report using YouTube, up from 70% and 38%, respectively in 2019.

YouTube adoption is highest among those in the top income bracket defined in the report. Some 9 in 10 adults with an income of $75K and above use the platform. It also appears that the higher the level of educational attainment, the more likely the individual will use YouTube. Also, more adults living in urban (84%) and suburban (81%) areas watch YouTube than those that live in rural areas (74%).

Facebook

Despite the problems Facebook has encountered over the past few years, including an advertiser boycott last summer, adoption of the platform has remained steady at 69%. Facebook adoption is higher among women (77%) than men (61%), as well as slightly higher among Black (74%) and Hispanic (72%) adults than White adults (67%).

When sorting by age group, adoption of Facebook is highest among adults ages 30-49 (77%). However, usage among older adults has increased since 2019. Close to three-quarters (73%) of adults ages 50-64 now use Facebook (up from 68%), while half of individuals ages 65 and older do so. Only 7 in 10 adults in the youngest age bracket (ages 18-29) say they use Facebook. Considering recent findings from Piper Sandler that shows Facebook has the least engagement among teens and is towards the bottom of the list for their favorite social platforms, this share is likely to drop further in the coming years.

Looking at adoption across income levels, adults with a household income between $30K and $50K have the highest usage (76%), with the lowest being among those with an income of $50K-$75K (61%). Again, education attainment appears to be a factor in usage, with 73% of those with at least a college education using the platform compared to 64% who have a high school education or less.

Instagram

Instagram adoption has grown — currently at 40%. That said, it appears a prediction from eMarketer that adoption growth for the platform will slow has come to fruition, as 2019 data showed Instagram’s reach at 37%.

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

  • Hispanic (52%) and Black adults (49%) are considerably more likely to use the platform than White adults (35%);
  • Instagram use is far higher among 18-29-year-olds (71%) than among 30-49-year-olds (48%), 50-64-year-olds (29%) and those ages 65 and older (13%);
  • As with YouTube and Facebook, those with higher levels of educational attainment are more likely to use Instagram than others; and
  • Urban adults (45%) are almost twice as likely to use Instagram as rural adults (25%).

Pinterest

About 3 in 10 (31% of) US adults use Pinterest. The platform does have a few characteristics that make it unique in terms of demographic variances.

The first is that it has the biggest gap in use by gender. Nearly three times as many women (46%) as men (16%) use Pinterest.

It is also the only platform that exhibits little difference in adoption among urban (30%), suburban (32%) and rural (34%) adults.

Additionally, there is a distinct correlation between usage and household income. Those with a household income of $75K+ (40%) are almost twice as likely as those with an income of less than $30K (21%) to use Pinterest.

LinkedIn

Some 28% of adults in the US use LinkedIn, with more men (31%) than women (26%) using the platform. Although Black (27%) and White (29%) adults use LinkedIn at an almost similar rate, the platform remains less popular among Hispanics (19%).

Adoption of the platform is highest among the 30-49 (36%) and 50-64 (33%) age brackets, with 3 in 10 adults ages 18-29 reporting using LinkedIn.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, LinkedIn is far more likely to be used by adults with at least a college degree (51%) than those with high school or less (10%).

LinkedIn usage also rises alongside household income and is highest among urban adults.

Snapchat

One-quarter of US adults use Snapchat, about the same percentage that used the platform in 2019 (24%). Although adoption was equal among men and women in 2019 (24%), a gap has emerged, with 28% of women now using the platform compared to 22% of men.

Snapchat continues to be noticeably more popular among younger users. About two-thirds (65%) of 18-29-year-olds use the platform, while those ages 30-49 (24%), 50-64 (12%) and 65 and older (2%) have a much lower rate of usage.

Unlike other platforms already discussed, there is very little difference in usage along income level lines. There also doesn’t appear to be a correlation between education level and usage.

Twitter

Twitter usage has seen a slight rise from 22% in 2019 to 23% this year.

Adoption is slightly higher among men (25%) than women (22%), while fairly on par among Hispanic (23%) and White (22%) adults. However, usage among Black adults has seen an increase to 29%, up from 25% in 2019.

Twitter, again, shows a fairly clear pattern of age-related use, highest among 18-29-year-olds (42%) and dropping with each successive age bracket to 2% of the 65 and older group.

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

WhatsApp

Tied with Twitter, 23% of adults in the US use WhatsApp.

What stands out the most with WhatsApp is its use among Hispanics. Close to half (46%) of Hispanic adults use the communication app, which is twice that of Black (23%) adults and almost three times that of White (16%) adults.

WhatsApp usage is highest among the 30-49 age group (30%) followed by the 18-29 (24%) and 50-64 (23%) brackets.

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

Finally, just 9% of rural adults use WhatsApp, less than half the national average.

TikTok

As the first of the two new platforms to this year’s survey, TikTok is used by one-fifth (21%) of adults.

The platform is used more by women (24%) than men (17%). And, as with many other platforms, it is used by more Hispanic (31%) and Black (30%) adults than White (18%) adults.

The short-video app has been a favorite among teens but has seen significant growth in usage among adults in the past year. Much as with Snapchat, use among the youngest adults (ages 18-29, 48%) is considerably higher than any other age brackets. Indeed, more than twice as many younger adults use TikTok than the next age group (ages 30-49, 22%).

There is also a reversal in usage trends when it comes to the level of education. While most platforms already discussed show higher usage among those who have achieved a higher level of education, the opposite is true for TikTok users.

Reddit

Reddit is used by 18% of US adults, up from 11% in 2019.

Just as in 2019, the usage among men (23%) is nearly twice that of women (12%). However, a notable change has occurred when it comes to the ethnicity of users. In 2019, only 4% of Black adults reported using Reddit, putting it well below the usage of Hispanic (14%) and White (12%) adults. In the past 2 years, the share of Black adults who use Reddit has grown to 17%, matching that of White adults (17%) and higher than Hispanic adults (14%).

Reddit is used by the 18-29 age group (36%) most, with usage decreasing with age. Adoption is also broader among adults with higher household incomes and educational attainment, but it is one of two platforms used by more suburban adults than urban or rural.

Nextdoor

The final platform on the list is also new to the survey this year. Nextdoor, a platform focused on connecting people within their neighborhood and community, is currently used by about 1 in 8 (13% of) US adults.

The platform has a higher adoption among women (16%) than men (10%), and is used by more White adults (15%) than Black (10%) or Hispanic (8%) adults.

The platform also has comparatively low adoption among adult ages 18-29 (5%), with adults in the 30-49 (17%) and 50-64 (16%) age groups being the highest adopters.

It also follows the trend of some other platforms with usage increasing as household income increases, as well as with the level of educational attainment. The platform is also used most by urban (17%) and suburban (14%) adults, while only 2% of rural adults report using it.

Site Usage: Frequency

Much like in years past, Facebook has the heaviest engagement among its users. When looking specifically at Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, Pew Research found that 7 in 10 Facebook users say they visit the platform on a daily basis. However, this rate has slipped from 74% in 2019.

Snapchat and Instagram are even when it comes to engagement, with both sites seeing 59% of users reporting visiting the platforms daily. That said, some 45% of Snapchat users say they access the site several times a day, compared to 38% of Instagram users who do the same on that site.

Although YouTube has high adoption, only a little more than half (54%) of its users visit the site daily. Meanwhile, 46% of Twitter users visit the platform on a daily basis, with 30% doing so several times per day.

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. 25 – Feb. 8, 2021, among a national sample of 1,502 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (300 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 1,202 were interviewed on a cellphone, including 845 who had no landline telephone). The survey was conducted by interviewers under the direction of Abt Associates.”

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