Social media is no longer new. Think about it: it’s been 39 years since the official birthday of the Internet on January 1, 1983, and roughly 25 years since the first recognizable online social media site, Six Degrees, was launched in 1997. And yet, the Internet is still growing at a rapid pace. The dynamics of social media demographics don’t show any sign of slowing down either. As marketers, we need to adapt to these changes and adjust our strategy accordingly.
There are tons of different social media channels today. People use different platforms for different reasons. Each platform has its own unique audience that can be segmented into demographic groups. Doing social media for business without knowing the demographics is like flying blind. You might get lucky and reach your destination or somewhere near it, but most of the time you’ll get lost.
If you want to know more about social media demographics and tips to utilize the numbers to grow your business, read on.
The Numbers Behind Social Media Demographics
Demographic data is key to understanding which networks and campaigns deserve your attention. After all, most brands cater to a particular demographic, or set of demographics, more than others. Likewise, each social network has its target market, and different groups resonate better with different sales pitches. The source of the data for this section is the Pew Research Center – pewresearch.org
The Growth of Social Media
Social media has grown exponentially. In fact, in 2005, only 5% of American adults used one of the social media platforms. However, as of 2021 72% of the public uses some type of social media. This isn’t surprising, since social media lets us stay connected even if we live thousands of miles away-or get locked into our homes for a while.
Despite the exponential growth of social media, usage is uneven. Young adults are the largest users, but older adult users are growing. Not only are yesterday’s young users maturing (and staying on social media), but seniors are learning the value of social media to keep track of children, grandchildren, and even old friends.
The Most Common Platforms
Just as social media use is uneven among demographics, it’s also uneven among platforms. Naturally, the “older” platforms have a broader user base, and they are better established for business and recreational users. To that end, the most widely used platforms are YouTube and Facebook.
Social media demographics for these social media networks, and for others, are different. For example, most Facebook users are between 37-49 of age, the majority are women (77%). Generally, this is consistent with Facebook’s still-dominant purpose of keeping track of family and friends.
On the other hand, most of YouTube’s users are between 18-29, with the number of men saying they use the platform (82%) is slightly higher than women (80%). So, if your brand caters to both men and women, this network is equally effective. In addition, the users are younger. So, if your target social media demographics are the young, you’ve likely found a great place to advertise.
Specific Demographics Behind Each Major Social Media Platform
Let’s dig deeper into the numbers. There’s a lot more to social media than Facebook and YouTube and, in addition, you need to know a lot more about a network before you target its users for your next campaign. We all love to get the best possible ROI, and by taking social media demographics into account we can boost our chances of achieving this.
Facebook Demographics and Usage
Facebook is the largest social media network, and it’s also one of the oldest continually operating networks (along with Twitter and LinkedIn). However, that isn’t to say you can blindly post advertisements and hope for the best. Rather, there are still target demographics to consider, even though the audience is widest here. Statistics courtesy of Sprout Social.
- Number of monthly active users:2.91 billion
- Largest age group: 25-34 (31.5%)
- Gender: 43% female, 57% male (no data on other genders)
- Time spent per day: 33 minutes
As you can see, Facebook has a lot of users. They are relatively evenly split between genders and trend in the older Millennial age groups. For this reason, you have a lot of options for campaigns and, in addition, you can use a variety of special tools. However, people don’t usually spend all day on Facebook like they might with some other networks.
Social Media Strategy Tips for Facebook
Want some tips on how to reach a Facebook audience? Because organic content from companies is notoriously disadvantaged, you’ll have to be more creative by using different techniques.
1. Know your Facebook audience. In this case, your Facebook audience is anyone who you want to reach, and those who follow your pages.
2. Engage proactively with your audience. When people like or comment on your Facebook posts, be sure to respond. This could be a “like” to a comment, or a response to a question, for example. Similarly, you can always be part of the discussion on an industry or topic-related forum.
3. Schedule your Facebook content. Nobody is going to stay on Facebook all day just to post things at the perfect time. Likewise, you shouldn’t post at times when your content is likely to get buried at the bottom of everyone’s feed. The fix, in most cases, is a social media scheduler. I have a list of these tools on my website.
4. Determine your Facebook ads strategy. Whether it’s heavy use of tools like Facebook Pixel or simply targeting certain social media demographics, you should always have a strategy. After all, as the saying goes, a failure to plan is a plan to fail. For social media advertising, it’s critical to know what you want to achieve, and how you want to achieve it before you start.
5. Encourage employee advocacy. Especially in an age of labor shortages, it’s important to showcase your employees. Not only do people like to know that you treat them well, but you can even get higher-quality job applicants! Besides this, employees may enjoy being part of the company’s growth: it gives them a sense of purpose.
Further Reading: 15 Definitive Facebook Marketing Tips for 2023
Instagram Demographics and Usage
If you may recall, both Instagram and Facebook are owned by Meta. However, that isn’t to say that these are the same social networks. There are many differences, both in terms of content type and social media demographics. Let’s look at the numbers for Instagram.
- Number of monthly active users: 2 billion
- Largest age group: 25-34 (31.2%), with 18-24 year-olds close behind at 31%
- Gender: 48.4% female, 51.8% male (no data on other genders)
- Time spent per day: 29 minutes
There are a lot of similarities with Facebook here, in that it’s popular with millennials. However, Instagram also has a significant number of Gen Z users, too. In addition, users spend less time on Instagram than they do on Facebook.
With that said, there’s probably little surprise in these social media demographic differences between Meta products. For instance, many Millennials grew up where there was a lot more written content, and this is where Facebook is stronger. Likewise, Gen Z prefers fast content that you can consume on the fly. Advantage Instagram.
Social Media Strategy Tips for Instagram
As with Facebook, you need a good social media marketing strategy to be successful. In fact, Instagram can get more competitive than Facebook, largely because Facebook is as much of a “keep track of people” network as a place to share your thoughts. On the other hand, people love to make a splash on Instagram. Here are some tips for mastering this network.
1. Use a Link in Bio Tool. One of the challenges of advertising on Instagram (or even being an influencer) is that you only get one link in your bio. Other than that, you can’t have any links. To maximize your one link, post one to a landing page on your website. Or, use a tool that gives people a page of links when they click through the bio link.
2. Create Shareable Graphics and Memes. Part of the magic of Instagram is that you can share pictures. For businesses, this often includes graphics and memes that are valuable enough that people share them. Many of the viral memes you’ve seen all over the internet started this way. Besides, it’s a great way to get free impressions.
3. Post to Instagram Reels. Businesses love Reels because they can make a great impression quickly. Not sure what Reels are? They’re a short video format that lets you voice over a bunch of pictures. Think “cool travelogue” or something similar-just for products.
4. Find Your Best Time to Post. Using your analytics from a social media dashboard or other Instagram tools, find out when your audience is most likely to be online. Then, you can post your content at optimal times to help it get reviewed by your audience. Otherwise, the competition might get their eyeballs first, and you don’t want that.
5. Hide Your Hashtags in the Comments. Among the challenges of Instagram is that if you use too many hashtags in your caption you’ll have a cluttered post. But at the same time, you need those hashtags to get your content discovered. The easiest solution is to put most or all of the hashtags in the comments section. You’ll do that by simply posting the first content on all your posts.
Further Reading: Tips and Tricks to Build a Seamless Instagram Content Strategy
Twitter Demographics and Usage
Here’s a revelation: despite its stodgy reputation and almost outsized influence, Twitter has a younger user base and a small number of daily users. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. If you need to reach the right social media demographics, Twitter might be the place. Here’s who hangs out on Twitter.
- Number of daily active users: 211 million (up from 187 million)
- Largest age group: 18-29 (42%)
- Gender: 38.4% female, 61.6% male (no data on other genders)
- Time spent per day: 31 minutes
People who use Twitter seem to linger a bit. Maybe that’s because of Twitter conversations, or because of the network’s tendency to host heated political debates. However, the most important point in the data here is that males are very dominant on Twitter. So, B2B brands and male-oriented niches need to check out Twitter.
Social Media Strategy Tips for Twitter
Like other social networks, using Twitter for marketing requires some strategy. These include getting found, growing a following, and earning that all-important share. Luckily, these strategy tips will help you get off on the right foot.
1. Use Twitter hashtags and trends. To have winning Tweets, you need winning hashtags. To find the trends, look at your feed where Twitter gives you the top hashtags for the day. Then, use a hashtag research tool to find the best hashtags for your content. Eventually, you’ll create a branded hashtag, too. By following this strategy, you’ll get better visibility in the right affinity groups.
2. Find out when to Tweet. Tweeting at the wrong time is the best way to keep your content from being seen. This is especially true on a fast-moving network like Twitter. Your social media dashboard and other Twitter tools are your best friends here.
3. Schedule Tweets ahead of time. Although there are situations, like Twitter chats, where you’ll need to be online when you Tweet, this isn’t usually appropriate. Instead, use a social media scheduler so you can quit worrying about sending the Tweet at the right time.
4. Engage with your followers. Like other social media networks, Twitter is a community. And in communities, people interact with each other. To build a following, and increase the value of your efforts, be sure to engage with your followers (and other commenters).
5. Utilize Twitter ads. Finally, Twitter ads are a great way to draw attention to your overall profile. That’s in addition to the other benefits of advertising, such as lead generation. Just be sure you set the social media demographics properly for each campaign, or your message can fall on deaf ears.
Further Reading: 9 Ways to Increase Your Twitter Engagement Today
LinkedIn Demographics and Usage
LinkedIn is a different social media network because it’s focused on business people and jobseekers. And while most social networks can be used for business, such as through company pages, LinkedIn is a place where you don’t go for “personal” stuff unless it’s business-related. However, besides the business focus, the social media demographics aren’t that different from what we’ve seen with the others.
- Number of monthly active users: 810 million
- Largest age group: 25-34 (58.4%)
- Gender: 48% female, 52% male
- 63% of LinkedIn users access the network weekly, and 22% daily
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from these statistics is that LinkedIn talks a lot about the weekly active users. Because of the business focus, LinkedIn is somewhat less active from the standpoint of keeping up with people. The obvious exceptions are executives, sales professionals or recruiters, and job seekers. However, these users present unique opportunities that you shouldn’t ignore, especially if you’re in a B2B company.
Further Reading: When is the Best Time to Post on LinkedIn in 2023?
Social Media Strategy Tips for LinkedIn
With that in mind, let’s look at some strategy tips specifically for LinkedIn. Some of these seem obvious, but others seem counter-intuitive considering that LinkedIn is a place we brag about our accomplishments.
1. Post regularly but not too much. According to Social Media Today, posting 30 or fewer times per month gets the highest engagement rates.
2. Share Video and Visual Content. Most people are used to a lot of text on LinkedIn, but this isn’t the best way to get high engagement rates. Sure, it works for individuals. But people follow companies for announcements and engaging content.
3. Don’t be salesy. It’s OK to make announcements about company events like getting a new key employee or launching an initiative. But if you come out and say, “check out our new product,” it probably won’t go over well.
4. Tag influencers and employees. LinkedIn will always be a place to see and be seen. If you’re trying to market or recruit on LinkedIn, it’s important to be associated with influencers, because it’ll help you get your foot in the door. In addition, featuring employees is a great way to boost recruitment.
5. Create LinkedIn-specific content. One of the underutilized aspects of LinkedIn is the blog feature. Here, you can create thought-leading blogs that showcase your knowledge. In addition, you can create workplace-themed visual content that helps foster community.
Further Reading: LinkedIn Profile Tips: The 21 Mistakes You Want to Avoid – and Why
Pinterest Demographics and Usage
These days, Pinterest is a weaker sibling to some of the larger social networks. However, it has a special place in the social sphere, because it’s a place where people exchange project ideas. You’ll also see people use Pinterest as a scrapbook for cool pictures that go along with their hobbies and interests. One of the other great things about Pinterest, though, is that it’s less competitive than other networks. Here are the social media demographics for Pinterest.
- Number of monthly active users: 431 million
- Largest age group: 50-64 (38%)
- Gender: 78% female, 22% male (no data on other genders)
- Time spent per day: 14.2 minutes
A few things should pop out at us here. Perhaps the biggest one is the largest age group: 50-64. These are late-career professionals who are the most likely to have a lot of disposable income. Second, users are overwhelmingly female. The female dominance counterbalances the male-dominated environment we see on Twitter. And finally, people spend less time on Pinterest than on other social networks. However, even considering the low visit time, Pinterest is a great place to market if you’re a leisure or hobby brand.
Social Media Strategy Tips for Pinterest
Pinterest is a lot like Instagram, in that it involves a lot of pictures. However, the character is rather different, especially since users can group their Pins and grab photos from just about anywhere. It’s also a very creative space. Here are some tips and tricks to rock your Pinterest efforts.
1. Brand your profile. The first step to having a presence on any social media network is to brand your profile. Here, you’ll add a complete bio so that people can find you, and put branded graphics on your homepage. Then, verify your website so people feel comfortable checking it out.
2. Determine your content strategy. What types of content will you be sharing on Pinterest? Is it pictures of what people can make with your hobby supplies? Style ideas for your outfits? Maybe an inspirational quote or two? Chances are that you’ll post about different things at different times. Not only does it save you time to go this route, but you can share inspiration from around Pinterest.
3. Join community boards. Community boards are similar to Facebook groups, in that people gather to share ideas on a common theme. Experts recommend that you look for the content creators in your niche, then see who has a board. Once you’ve joined, be sure to post regularly. Alternatively, you can start your own board, moderate it, and participate fully.
4. Focus on Pinterest SEO. Like other social networks, Pinterest has a search engine. So, be sure to include keywords and even hashtags in your Pins. This way, people can find your content on Pinterest and beyond. Remember, Pins will often show up on Google images, so it’s important to ensure search engines will put your content in the right place.
5. Schedule out fresh pins. Scheduling your Pins in advance helps ensure you don’t have gaps in your posting. Combined with a good editorial calendar, scheduling Pins through Pinterest apps or social media dashboards will help build your presence on Pinterest. You can even recycle content from Instagram or repurpose it from other networks. Then, you only have to worry about engaging with your followers.
Further Reading: 7 Best Practices for How to Use Pinterest for Marketing in 2023
YouTube Demographics and Usage
Next, let’s look at YouTube. As I mentioned above, YouTube is one of the largest social media networks. And, as a result, the social media demographics are more diverse than in some other forums. In addition, people love to consume video content, especially the younger generations. This means that there are lots of opportunities to impress users with your videos. Plus, a lot of people will watch YouTube just for fun as they unwind for the day. Here are the demographics.
- Number of monthly active users: 2+ billion
- Largest age group: 15-35 (highest reach)
- Gender: 46% female, 54% male (no data on other genders)
- Time spent per session: ~30 minutes
Two takeaways. First, YouTube is HUGE. Not only are there a lot of members, but there’s a ton of new content uploaded every day. Second, there’s a wider age range in their largest group. Most networks wouldn’t put a 15-year-old and a 35-year-old in the same category. However, this grouping shows us that YouTube has a very wide appeal. With YouTube, you definitely want to define your target audience.
Social Media Strategy Tips for YouTube
As I already pointed out, YouTube is a different animal from a social media demographics standpoint. Besides the demographics, YouTube covers a huge variety of videos, from news and documentaries to hobbies and guilty pleasures. For this reason, you need to strategize very carefully. Otherwise, you can easily get bogged down or fail to reach your ideal buyer persona.
1. Take inspiration from the best YouTube channels. As the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Or in this case, building on other people’s success is a great way to both jump-start your YouTube presence and remain relevant. Besides this, you can be sure the best content creators started out the same way. For this step, you don’t have to limit yourself to creators in your niche.
2. Analyze your YouTube competitors. This is the same principle as we see all over the marketing world. Before you dive in, figure out what your competition does well so you can incorporate the same tactics. Then, adapt your findings to fit your brand voice, goals, and products.
3. Optimize your YouTube videos. Here, I mean to optimize the videos for maximum visibility on the search engine/algorithm, and for viewers. To do this, be sure to create a killer thumbnail, which should accurately preview your video. Then, write a good description of your video. These are great for the search engine, and help people decide if they want to watch your video. Finally, make playlists, so people can view a series or related videos with minimal effort.
4. Try live streaming on YouTube. People love live streams because they can be part of a community and ask questions. When you live stream, you offer people an opportunity to connect with your other fans. Over time, you can build a brand community this way.
5. Don’t miss out on YouTube ads. Finally, don’t overlook YouTube ads. You can use these to promote your channel, such as by creating a sponsored Short. Or, you can do traditional display ads and a variety of video ads that usually play before someone can view a video. With ads, you can use traditional targeting and display them on any kind of video. This way, you’ll get exposure to other people’s audiences.
TikTok Demographic Data and Usage
TikTok is a relatively new social network that caters to younger people. It’s also one of the few successful imports from the Chinese tech industry, where it’s called Douyin. Although TikTok is new on the scene, it’s a bit controversial because of the stupid things that teenagers challenge each other to do. However, this network has become increasingly popular, and it’s now a place where you can do meaningful marketing.
Let’s look at the social media demographics for TikTok:
- Number of monthly active users: 1 billion
- Largest age group: 10-19 (25%)
- Gender: 61% female, 39% male (no data on other genders)
- Time spent per day: 89 minutes per day
There are two big takeaways from these numbers. First, TikTok is documenting younger users than anyone else, with a minimum age of ten. In fact, users under 20 are the largest age group. Second, look at how long people spend on the app. The fact that using TikTok involves producing content in-app certainly increases the usage time. But even taking that into account, TikTok users are spending about triple the time on the platform as users typically spend on the others.
Social Media Strategy Tips for TikTok
One of the challenges of working with TikTok is that relatively few social media tools help with it. It’s true that some of this dearth of tools has to do with TikTok’s newcomer status, but in addition, the app works differently from many others. Combine this with the controversy over TikTok pre-pandemic, and it’s easy to understand why you might have to work harder to maintain your account. With that said, here are some strategy tips.
1. Know Your Audience. Most TikTok users trend to the younger side, but there’s a lot more to social media demographics than age. Make sure you understand who follows you and your company on TikTok, so you can tailor your posts (and advertising campaigns) to them.
2. Use Hashtags. As with other networks, TikTok uses hashtags to sort and classify posts. In addition, you can use a hashtag for challenges and contests, among other things.
3. Reach Out to Influencers. Even on TikTok, influencers are big. Plus, with a large network like this one, it’s relatively difficult to build close-knit communities. With the help of influencers, however, there are a lot more possibilities.
4. Use Humor. TikTok users are young, and this also comes with a quirky side. Overall, the vibe of TikTok is fun, even goofy at times. For this reason, if you want to be humorless as a brand, this isn’t the place to do it. Instead, try to make everyone laugh so your content gets shared and remembered.
5. Engage with Other Users. Finally, engagement is a big concern even on TikTok. While you might not respond to a challenge, you definitely can respond to people’s comments, like their videos, or participate in other ways. This way, you’ll build a following and, in time, brand affinity.
In conclusion, social media demographics are incredibly powerful tools for marketers. They allow us to identify who our target audience is, where they spend their time online, and what types of content they respond to. Armed with this information, we can create campaigns that speak directly to them, which means that we can reach them more effectively than ever before.
But these statistics aren’t just useful for marketing purposes; they’re also extremely valuable for understanding the behavior of our customers. By knowing who our users are, we can develop products that meet their needs, and we can use that knowledge to improve our services over time. So whether you want to know who your current customers are, or you’re trying to figure out how to attract new ones, social media demographics is a must-have tool for any marketer.
Hero Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash
Social Media Demographics FAQs
According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2018, over 90% of 18-24 year-olds use some form of social media, while the rate falls to around 72% among those aged 65+. Middle-aged adults (45-54) accounted for the greatest number of users (80%). Male and female users tend to share similar usage patterns with 79% male users and 76% female users actively using social media.
Studies show that young adults, particularly those between the ages of 18-29, are by far the most active users of social media. This age demographic accounts for 88% of the usage of many popular platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Furthermore, this particular group has been steadily increasing its presence on these sites over the past few years — suggesting that this trend may continue into the future.
The 5 types of social media users are:
1. Connectors – those who often engage with their contacts and keep in touch with friends.
2. Creators – post original content for others to see.
3. Curators – share relevant content from around the web.
4. Spectators – view content but do not comment or interact.
5. Joiners register for websites but never actively participate.
Here are the 6 types of demographics:
1. Household characteristics – analyze the size of households within rankings such as married couples with children or single adults without children.
2. Population size and density – provide insight into how many people are living in an area based upon their classifications like urban or rural.
3. Visitor demographics – track tourist populations of certain locations or attractions for businesses (e.g. restaurants).
4. Economic and business cycle – details dig deeper beyond wealth by access to technology or credit acceptance rates among other things.
5. Socio-cultural elements – measure customization including language preferences or religious identification.
6. Market segmentation – uses detailed targeting to pinpoint potential customers effectively across any countrywide network.