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Which social media platform is the most popular in the US?


Photo credit: Geralt / Pixabay

What is the most popular social media platform in the US? The Pew Research Center conducted a survey on social media usage among US adults in early January 2018. The results were surprising. The king is dead! Long live the king!

Use of social media

In 2016, Pew found that 79% of adults online in the US were using Facebook. Instagram took second place with a score of 32%. This year Pew asked a different question. Instead of looking at online adults, they reported data on all US adults. According to this metric, Facebook accounted for 68% of all adults in both 2016 and 2018. However, Facebook took second place this year. Pew reported that 73% of adults use YouTube. Whether or not YouTube topped Facebook in 2016 is unknown, as Pew did not include Google’s video channel in its 2016 survey.

All of the other social media platforms Pew included in this year’s survey lagged far behind the two top performers. The other platforms in descending order were Instagram (35%), Pinterest (29%), Snapchat (27%), LinkedIn (25%), Twitter (24%) and WhatsApp (22%).

In addition to YouTube, Snapchat and WhatsApp were not included in the Pew 2016 survey. All of the others except Instagram attracted roughly the same percentage of adults in 2018 as it did in 2016. Instagram usage increased from 28% to 35% over the biennium.

Most adults in the United States use more than one social media platform. The middle adult uses three of the eight platforms that Pew examined. YouTube also topped the multi-use rankings. At least 87% of the users of the other platforms also use YouTube. WhatsApp was the least used “other” platform.

Although more adults use YouTube than any other platform, they use it less often than some of the other social media sites. 74 percent of Facebook users visit the website every day, 51 percent several times a day. Snapchat followed with 63% of users every day and 49% several times a day. Less than half of YouTube users (45%) visit the website every day and only 29% visit it more than once a day.

Photo credit: Geralt / Pixabay


Unsurprisingly, social media has a bias towards young people. Here are the percentages of people in different age groups who report using at least one social media platform.

Age group % use social media
18-29 88%
30-49 78%
50-64 64%
65+ 37%

94% of adults between the ages of 18 and 24 use YouTube compared to just 56% of adults over 50. Besides YouTube, young Use for adults aged 18 to 24 years Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter more than any other age group.

Facebook users are characterized by consistent use across all age groups. About 80% of adults between the ages of 18 and 49 use Facebook. Fifty-five percent of people over 50 use Facebook, roughly the same percentage of this age group that use YouTube. Snapchat was the least used by older adults, with only 7% of people aged 50 and over reporting using the platform.

Pew found several other notable demographic differences among social media platform users. For example, 41% of women say they use Pinterest, compared to just 16% of men. One wonders if Pinterest’s reputation as a social media platform for women could lead some men to say they don’t visit the site when they actually do.

Many surveys published on the Internet present their results as reliable and meaningful, although they are based on practical samples or groups of people who sign up for surveys for a fee. Pew’s work is different. Their research is based on solid methodology and they are always careful not to reach conclusions that are not supported by the data they have collected. Much more interesting is the Pew report on social media usage 2018 and interested readers are cordially invited to take a look.


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