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New Data Reveals the Latest Social Media Usage Trends, Including the Rise of Reddit, TikTok and Snapchat

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Despite seemingly losing some of its shine as the leading social platform of choice, Facebook continues to see the most daily usage, according to the latest findings from Pew Research.

For its 2021 social media usage survey, Pew interviewed 1,502 US about their social media habits, providing an overview of key trends and shifts in social media platform adoption and usage. Which, given the events of the last 12 months, has been impacted significantly, with most platforms seeing a rise in usage – but as noted, Pew’s data reveals that the big players remain in charge, even with other apps gaining some ground.

First off, on overall usage, Pew reports that YouTube and Facebook remain the most popular social apps, by a big margin, among US users.

Pew Research - Social Media Usage 2021

As explained by Pew:

“YouTube and Facebook continue to dominate the online landscape, with 81% and 69%, respectively, reporting ever using these sites. And YouTube and Reddit were the only two platforms measured that saw statistically significant growth since 2019, when the Center last polled on this topic via a phone survey.”

That’s interesting – while Facebook’s usage share hasn’t changed since Pew’s last update, YouTube has gone up 8%, while Reddit adoption has increased 7% among survey participants. That underlines the rising potential of Reddit, which has gone to significant effort to clean-up its platform and improve its mainstream appeal, with a view to expanding its revenue opportunities. 

If you haven’t considered Reddit in your planning, it may well be worth a look. It’s still not seeing the same level of overall adoption as the other major social apps, but it is rising, and it could be worthy of consideration.

As you can see, Pew’s data also shows that 40% of US adults are using Instagram, and around 30% are on Pinterest and LinkedIn, while TikTok is now being used by 21% of the population.

But Pew does also note that Snapchat and TikTok are very popular among younger user groups.

“Even as other platforms do not nearly match the overall reach of YouTube or Facebook, there are certain sites or apps, most notably Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, that have an especially strong following among young adults. In fact, a majority of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use Instagram (71%) or Snapchat (65%), while roughly half say the same for TikTok.”

If you’re looking to connect with younger audiences, these are the apps you need to be exploring, while Facebook and YouTube have the greatest reach to the older population.

And as noted, while there’s been some speculation about Facebook losing ground to other apps, as it becomes less cool and less fresh, Pew’s data shows that it still sees the most daily usage, beating IG and Snap.

Pew Research - Social Media Usage 2021

There are some additional considerations within this – as we’ve noted previously, further investigation would likely find that while people are checking into Facebook every day, the amount of time they spend in the app, on average, is also likely in decline.

Facebook has become a key connective tool for many – you rely on it to keep you informed of key events in the lives of friends and family, including birthdays, announcements, etc. That means that most people do check into Facebook each morning, but many would also be spending more time consuming content on Instagram or TikTok, where there tends to be more engaging, immersive options to spend your time these days.

That’s anecdotal – Facebook’s doesn’t provide data on time spent in app, while the usage of Facebook Groups would also see a lot of people still spending a lot of time engaging on Facebook instead. But it does seem that while Facebook remains a critical connective tool, more users are spending more time elsewhere. We’ll have to wait and see if Facebook reveals any further insight on this.

In terms of further notes, Pew’s data also shows that

  • About half of Hispanic and Black Americans are active on Instagram, compared with smaller shares of White Americans.
  • Around half of adults who have a bachelor’s or advanced degree say they use LinkedIn, compared with significantly smaller shares of those with some college experience and those with a high school diploma or less
  • Women continue to dominate Pinterest usage over men (46% vs.16%).

These are some valuable insights into the latest usage trends, which may help to shape your approach to digital marketing and outreach. The numbers point to exactly where your target market is most likely to be present – so if you’re not active on those platforms as yet, it’s time to get moving, and update your strategic approach. 

You can read Pew Research’s full “Social Media Use in 2021” report here.