Millennials Favor Facebook, Instagram; TikTok Is Least-Used

Millennials are so hooked on Instagram -- and maybe now TikTok -- that they have abandoned Facebook to the boomers, right?

Wrong -- at least as far as Facebook and TikTok go.

According to a nationally representative online survey of 1,000 U.S. adults 18+ conducted for 5WPR by vs.  Facebook is actually the most-used social media platform across all U.S. age groups, including millennials.

The survey, for 5WPR's “2020 Consumer Culture Report,” asked which social platform respondents check, post, comment on or otherwise view daily, as part of numerous questions probing digital, social and ecommerce behaviors, by age group.

Across all included ages, 65% report using Facebook daily, followed by YouTube (39%), Instagram (37%), Twitter (32%), Snapchat (22%), Pinterest (21%), Reddit (18%) and TikTok (13%). 

The percentage of millennials using Facebook daily is actually higher than the overall average: 77%. 

However, it is true that millennials use Instagram and YouTube more than respondents as a whole, and other age groups. 

Seventy percent use Instagram daily compared to 66% for YouTube, 54%, Twitter; 47%, Snapchat; 41% Reddit; and 38%, Pinterest. TikTok is last, cited by 28%. 

As for Gen X, 68% use Facebook daily vs. 46% for YouTube, and 39% for Instagram.

And boomers? About half (52%) are on Facebook daily, compared to 12% on YouTube, 9% on Instagram and 9% on Twitter.

In addition, 67% of millennials, 48% of Gen Xers and 22% of boomers said their purchasing decisions are influenced by someone they follow on Facebook.

But Instagram is also influential among millennials in particular: 52% report having clicked on an ad on Instagram, and 35% report having purchased a product from an ad on Instagram.

”Instagram's rise in popularity over the past few years has led brands to invest heavily in ads and influencers on this platform,” but this data should make them rethink their social media strategies, asserts 5WPR founder and CEO Ronn Torossian. "As the most-used social platform across all generations, there is still a huge opportunity to connect with customers on Facebook, and leverage its dominant clout."

Torossian offered more insights in a Q&A with Video Insider.

Why do some millennial media plans focus on Instagram but discount or minimize Facebook, given the behavioral patterns you found?

We manage many Instagram accounts for our clients, and within the majority of these accounts, millennial women are indeed the top follower demographic. But Instagram only shows who is using its own platform, not their platform compared to others.

Relying on Instagram’s internal analytics would lead to misinterpreting the picture as a whole. It’s important to look at the entire social media landscape when deciding where to invest time and money.

What advice do you offer for planning/buying social and video platforms for the millennial audience? 

An omnichannel approach is key, whatever the target audience. You can’t just assume that one platform is going to be the ticket to success. It also depends heavily on your product. The platform that works best for one, might be a total bust for another category. 

The best practice is to test a variety of platforms to see where your audience is, and distribute your digital budget across the top performers. 

If you discover something isn’t working, there’s nothing wrong with pulling the plug and focusing your efforts elsewhere. 

For example, TikTok may be the cool new kid on the block, but that doesn’t mean you should be redirecting your entire marketing budget to produce TikTok influencer campaigns. Focus on what works, test new ideas, and always rely on analytics -- not perceived media trends -- to make decisions.

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