Social Media Age Disparity: Which Platforms Do Your Customers Use?

Introduction

As of January 2019, 45% of the world’s population are active social media users; that’s around 3.4 billion people taking an active engagement on social media platforms.

With 67% of the UK’s population alone being active users of the top social media networks, social media is one of the most prominent aspects of online usage – proving essential for digital marketers to understand.

Social media has evolved rapidly over the last few decades. Once upon a time, Myspace was the place to be, boasting the title of most visited social media networking site in the world from 2005 until early 2008. Today, Facebook has dominated the web with more than one billion active daily users, and over two billion monthly active users worldwide.

Alexa’s rankings of the world’s most visited websites demonstrate how prevalent social media usage is – with Facebook in third place, behind YouTube at number two and Google in the top spot. The global number of social media users has also increased year on year, jumping up 9% in 2019 – that’s an extra 288 million people.

It’s not just the number of people on social media that has increased, the amount of time we spend daily on social media has also increased year on year; on average, we now spend 2 hours and 16 minutes on social media each day.

The various social media platforms offer something different to its users, and it’s these unique selling points that have caused divides in the demographics of users for each platform. Age is undoubtedly a driving factor behind how people use social media.

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Facebook: An Ever-Ageing User Base

It’s been known for a while now that Facebook is no longer the bubbling hub for young people to flock to, as it once was. What started as a platform exclusively for students is currently seeing a shift in entirely the opposite direction, with younger users leaving or not signing up at all, and an increase in the number of older people joining.

Facebook UK users 2018 v 2017:

  • Age 12 to 17 – 2m, down 300,000
  • Age 18 to 24 – 5m, down 400,000
  • Age 25 to 34 – 2m, flat
  • Age 35 to 44 – 9m, flat
  • Age 45 to 54 – 6m, up 100,000 users
  • Age 55 to 64 – 5m, up 200,000 users
  • Age 65-plus – 9m, up 300,000 users

 

As you can see, in the UK the number of younger users are dropping while the number of older users continue to increase.

Currently, the highest demographic of Facebook users are those aged 25 to 34. It’s not a coincidence that younger people are leaving the platform while more of the older generation sign up. It seems young people don’t want their parents to have such a close eye on what they’re up to online.

Also, other platforms are introducing innovative features at a much faster rate than Facebook, capturing the attention of younger users.

Instagram: Clinging to Its Youth

Instagram is incredibly popular with Millennials, and this may be where a lot of the cohort who dropped Facebook ended up. 70% of Instagram’s more than 800 million active accounts are made up of under 35’s. Here’s the age breakdown of Instagram users worldwide:

  • Age 13 to 17 – 57 million (7%)
  • Age 18 to 24 – 270 million (32%)
  • Age 25 to 34 – 270 million (32%)
  • Age 35 to 44 – 131 million (15%)
  • Age 45 to 54 – 68 million (8%)
  • Age 55 to 64 – 30 million (3%)
  • Age 65+ – 3 million (2%)

 

Instagram currently has a comfortable hold on the younger generation of adults, with its usage doubling between 2016 and 2018. It was a savvy move by Facebook to purchase its competitor back in 2012, essentially clinging on to the young generation rapidly abandoning their platform.

Twitter: Striking a Balance

Twitter is the second most popular social media site in the UK after Facebook, receiving 60% of the UK’s internet audience. Over 500 million Tweets are sent out each day, and almost two-thirds of Twitter users in the UK are under the age of 34.

Twitter users worldwide by age, as of April 2019:

  • Age 13 to 17 – 1%
  • Age 18 to 24 – 24%
  • Age 25 to 34 – 31%
  • Age 35 to 49 – 2%
  • Age 50+ – 1%

 

Like Instagram, Twitter mainly maintains a younger audience in the UK, but in the US, Twitter users are distributed more evenly across the different age demographics, with 21% of Twitter users in the US in 2018 belonging to the 55 to 64 age bracket, the same percentage as the 25 to 34 age bracket.

Snapchat: Down with The Kids

Snapchat claims that, on average, 190 million people use their platform every day, and that the average “Snapchatter” uses the app over 20 times a day, spending an average of 30 minutes on the app. All of this equates to the creation of 3 billion Snaps daily.

Snapchat usage in the US in 2018:

  • Age 13 to 17 – 69%
  • Age 18 to 29 – 68%
  • Age 30 to 49 – 26%
  • Age 50 to 64 – 10%
  • Age 65+ – 3%

 

Snapchat is a popular platform with teenagers and young people. It’s a close race between Snapchat and Instagram to battle it out to be top dog amongst the younger demographics. Research would suggest that Snapchat holds that top spot for now, but it will be interesting to see if this changes in the future.

The Rise of Video Platforms

Video sharing websites are proving to be a force to be reckoned with in the online world, with YouTube not only being the most popular video sharing platform but one of the most popular and widely used sites on the net.

YouTube gets 1.9 billion logged-in users every month, and they watch a billion hours of video. Almost every 18 to 24-year-old in the US is using YouTube, 96% to be exact, with research suggesting that this age demographic prefers to watch video platforms more than live TV. 59% of 16 to 24-year olds increased their use of YouTube in 2018, as did 46% of 25 to 34-year olds.

Alongside YouTube, smaller video sharing platforms are rapidly rising in popularity. Vine was all the rage when it started in 2012, gaining 200 million active users by 2015 before shutting down in early 2017. Their unique video format of allowing users to upload short, 6-second videos proved to be very popular and paved the way for the newest kid on the block in the video sharing platform world: Tik Tok.

Tik Tok launched in 2017 and allowed users to create short videos. Its popularity has soared, and it became the most downloaded app in the US in October 2018. In December 2018, Tik Tok entered the top 20 mobile apps ranked by the number of minutes spent. It also had a 55% growth in unique visitors from September to December 2018.

Currently, TikTok doesn’t have a substantial number of users in the UK compared to other social media platforms, but it is one to keep a close eye on for the future.

The Role of Social Media in Digital Marketing

Being active on social media is one of the most critical aspects of digital marketing. It helps businesses to reach new customers, create leads and generate brand awareness. Social media is an excellent way for companies to engage and interact with customers, establishing a strong relationship with them. Twitter, for example, allows brands to interact with their customers on an open platform directly – this can sometimes result in a company’s Tweets going viral online if they give a humorous or banter-like response. Of course, this can be a double-edged sword as a brand must ensure their social media posts go viral for the right reasons, and that it doesn’t result in harming the company’s image.

While having a presence on every social media platform might seem like the best way to get your brand out there as much as possible, it could be a mistake. Unless you have a considerable workforce behind your social media team, you’re unlikely to be able to use every single platform to its fullest capacity. It’s much better to do exceptionally well on two or three social media platforms than it is to do a poor or an average job across all of them. Using the age demographics of social media, you can decide on which platforms to focus your efforts.

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If you would like to learn more about the role of social media in digital marketing, please get in touch with our digital marketing agency by calling 01524 580 777 or by filling out our enquiry form.

Sources: Smart Insights | Facebook Newsroom | Alexa | The Guardian | Hootsuite | Ofcom | Business Twitter | Statista | Pew Research Center | Business Snapchat | eMarketer | Hootsuite | OKOM

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