For Youth, Social Media Preferences Increasingly Limited to Top Platforms

March 27, 2017

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Social Media | Teens & Younger | Youth & Gen X

We’ve been keeping score of teens’ changing social media preferences over the past few years as they’ve switched from Facebook to Twitter, Instagram and now Snapchat. How about the broader 12-24 age group? The latest edition of The Infinite Dial report from Edison Research and Triton Digital shows that social media use among this group is increasingly limited to three top platforms.

In this year’s survey, respondents were asked to identify the social media brands that they use most often. Facebook (somewhat surprisingly, unless you follow the research) was the top choice for 12-24-year-olds, cited by 39% of respondents. Close behind was Snapchat (cited by 31%), with Instagram trailing a bit at 20%.

Perhaps more importantly, Twitter lagged at just 1% of the vote, while the “others” option garnered just 9% of the vote.

In other words, 90% of 12-24-year-olds selected either Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram as the platform they use most often.

Now, it’s possible that the results would have been different had more brands been specifically identified in the survey, as opposed to being part of an aggregate “other”. Messaging apps, if considered social platforms, for example, seem to very popular with youth. YouTube is also highly popular with youth, with 74% of 12-24-year-olds using it weekly, but was not identified as a “social brand” in the survey.

Still, the year-over-year trends are instructive. The same survey question was asked in last year’s report: 2016 is sooo passé, but way back then 8% of 12-24-year-olds selected Twitter as their most-used platform and 17% some “other” platform.

To recap: in the space of one year, the dominance of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram as most-used platforms rose from a combined 75% to 90% of 12-24-year-olds.

(For context, among all respondents – not just the 12-24 bracket – one of these top three platforms was selected by 80% of respondents. Facebook was the clear winner, cited by 62% of the entire sample.)

Meanwhile, there’s another way of reviewing the survey’s results to see if they’re consistent with the top 3’s dominance: reach. Spoiler alert: they are quite consistent.

Here’s how social platform usage (ever used) broke out among the 12-24 bracket:

– Snapchat (79%)
– Facebook (76%)
– Instagram (73%).

The next-closest to those top 3? Twitter, used by just 43%.

Interested in learning more about youths’ use of social media and/or the “big 3”? Check out these articles:

Analysis Reveals Generational Differences in Brand Engagement on Social
Facebook User-Generated Content Engagement Reportedly Down in 2016
How Brands Are Using Snapchat And Gaining Followers
4 in 10 Adults Say They’ve Bought Something They Saw on Social Media
Which Media Draw the Youngest, Highest-Income and Most Diverse Audiences?

About the Data: The Infinite Dial results are based on a national telephone survey conducted in January and February 2017 of 2,000 people aged 12 and older. Interviews were 51% land line and 49% cell phone, and the survey was offered in both English and Spanish.


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