Marketers adjust to changing consumer social media habits
By: SSN Staff
The media landscape is becoming more fragmented than ever thanks to the emergence of new social platforms. Audience engagement is dwindling, and where once there were defined audiences and well-defined consumer behavior, there are now splintered audiences and an increasing number of platforms—all competing for the same individual’s time.
There are approximately 4.89 billion social media users around the world. By far, Facebook has always maintained the position of the most used social media platform to date with approximately 2.9 billion monthly active users globally as reported by research firm, Datareportal. However, data published in the company’s third quarter 2022 investor earnings report showed that Facebook’s monthly active users dropped slightly over previous months. The total number of people that use Facebook each month decreased by roughly 2 million (-0.07%) in the three months leading up to July 2022.
Social media usage has changed, and it’s becoming harder to forecast who’s using which platforms, making strategy formulation, ROI measurement, and allocation of time and budget difficult for advertisers. Social media marketing is an ongoing challenge requiring brands to react to shifting audience behaviors and proactively adapt to trends that are in constant motion. The rate of change across social media apps sees no sign of slowing, forcing marketers to brace for what’s in store for the foreseeable future.
Top 6 Social Platforms by the Numbers
There are no signs of social media usage dropping as a whole. It’s projected that by 2025, approximately half of the global population will be using one or more platforms.
- Facebook (Meta) – Monthly Active Users: 2.91 billion
Users enjoy accessing the platform to check in with friends and family; others use it to buy and sell goods, learn about events happening in their local area, or watch a live video interview with their favorite celebrity. Marketers can leverage both paid and organic options, with sponsored posts or ad campaigns and promotions on the paid side and groups, stories, and organic posts on the unpaid side.
- YouTube – Monthly Active Users: 2.6 billion
Not far behind Facebook is the popular video sharing platform YouTube as the second most visited website on the Internet as of 2022. Consumers flock to video because it’s quick and easy to digest. For marketers, it’s an opportunity to engage them, show the human side of a brand, and provide entertainment with the most popular content providing value to users.
- WhatsApp – Monthly Active Users: 2 billion
The No. 1 messaging app in more than 100 countries, WhatsApp, has started investing heavily in growing the marketing functions of the app. WhatsApp Business offers features for business owners that enable brands to personally connect with their customers, create catalogs of available products and services, and offer support staff to answer customer queries while they shop.
- Instagram – Monthly Active Users: 1.22 billion
Acquired by Facebook in 2012, Instagram is the place for photo and story sharing. In addition to regular users, Instagram also plays host to brands, businesses, celebrities, and influencers. Marketers choose from sponsored ads—which can take the form of photos, videos, carousels, and stories—as well as product teasers or influencer partners. Successful campaigns are those that tell stories and don’t just push products.
- WeChat/Wexin – Monthly Active Users: 1.2 billion
WeChat is a Chinese instant messaging social media and mobile payment app. It’s known as China’s app for everything and holds the title of the world’s largest standalone mobile app since 2018. Unlike the U.S., marketing on WeChat and social media in China has a different reception. It’s seen as a positive thing by Chinese users due to them embracing capitalism. Companies and brands marketing themselves aren’t seen as nuisances.
- TikTok – Monthly Active Users: 1 billion
Describing itself as “the destination for short-form mobile videos,” TikTok’s engagement has grown the most among Gen X and baby boomers over the last year. Data shows that short-form content is more popular than long-form. Its popularity doesn’t show any signs of slowing, and older consumers have a hand in this trend. TikTok offers an easy-to-use self-service advertising platform that makes it simple for marketers to create campaigns.
Data from research firm Freedom Lab states that the average internet user has 10 logins to social platforms that they’re active on regularly. While the fragmentation not only takes power away from Facebook, it creates challenges for marketers. Rising popularity of TikTok may be taking a lot of time away from Facebook and other platforms, but Facebook still has the best performing ad platform and still reaches more people in the U.S.
General Usage by the Demographics
Research from marketing data insights firm DemandSage points out that globally, social media users spend an average of 2 hours and 27 minutes on any given platform per day. While the numbers vary by platform and by country, generally there are more men than women who make up global social media users as of 2023. The group that spends the most overall time on social media is females between the ages of 16 and 24 with an average of three hours and 13 minutes spent daily.
The Pew Research Center studied social media use by generation, and according to the research, 84% of U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are active social media users. For those aged 30 to 49, the number drops to 81%. For those aged 50 to 64, nearly 73% are active social media users. Those aged over 65 years use social media the least.
General demographics of each social platform:
Facebook – Forty-one percent of all Facebook users are ages 45 and older with 31% of all Facebook users ages 25 to 34. While 56.6% of Facebook users identify as male, and 43.4% identify as female. And male users ages 25 to 34 continue to make up the biggest demographic of Facebook users, according to Statista.
YouTube – Of Internet users in the U.S. ages 15 to 25, 65.77% use YouTube. In the United States, 46.1% of Youtube users identify as female, and 53.9% identify as male, according to Statista. YouTubers are most likely to be in the U.S., followed by India, then China. Notably, Youtube’s ad reach is largest in the Netherlands (95% potential reach) then South Korea (94%), then New Zealand (93.9%).
WhatsApp – WhatsApp’s worldwide user base consists of 46.1% females and 53.9% males. The largest percentage of users are between the ages of 26 and 35 at 27%, according to Statista. One-hundred billion messages are exchanged on WhatsApp every day. WhatsApp is the most popular app in more than 100 nations. India has the most WhatsApp users, with the U.S. having 79.6 million WhatsApp users.
Instagram – According to Statista, 49% of all Instagram users worldwide are female, and more than half of its global users are under the age of 35. Instagram is notably popular among younger users: It’s the most-used social media platform among American teenagers.
WeChat – According to The Verge, 25% of WeChat users are between 25 and 30 years old, and 19% of users are over 41 years old. There are also about 19 million people located in the U.S. who use this social media networking platform. They account for 7% of downloads outside of China.
General TikTok demographics – In one online minute, 167 million TikToks are watched globally. According to Statista, 57% of all TikTok users globally identify as female, and 43% identify as male. In the U.S., 25% of TikTok users are ages 10 to 19. And 22% are ages 20 to 29. Of Americans 65 years old or more, 4% use the platform.
Social Media Advertising Statistics
In 2023, the total social media advertising spending by U.S. companies is expected to reach just over $94.4 billion. This represents a 17% increase from 2022 and a deceleration in its growth rate from the previous year. All signs point to further—albeit slower—growth in social media ad spend in the coming years. Advertising spend is projected to hit the $100-billion mark in 2024 before further rising to $114 billion by 2025. By 2026, it’s projected to hit $122.2 billion, and is set to continue to increase to $130.5 billion in 2027.
Marketers will need to understand that they have to target the right platforms to capture the desired consumer’s attention. The ability to anticipate and acknowledge the fluid nature of how platforms evolve will be a driving factor in ensuring a greater level of future success.