This is me, skipping the generic intro with stats about how many people use social media today.
This is also me, skipping the “mystery” intro as I’m 99% sure you can already guess the most popular social media sites in 2022.
What you can’t guess, and what you probably won’t find elsewhere in a single post, is how I’ll be arriving at that information. No, this isn’t your average roundup of demographic stats for each platform (don’t worry, you’ll still get your fix). You’ll find unobvious intel in here like…
For each of the social media sites in this list, I’ll be covering:
Let’s get those more common statistics out of the way first.
The answer to this question depends on many variables, like:
If we look at Statista’s data as of October 2021, the most popular social media platforms worldwide are:
The top five most popular social media platforms in the world are Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger. TikTok comes right after that, but Snapchat is number 11, Twitter is number 15, and LinkedIn isn’t even on there.
This may seem surprising, but while 80% of customers engage with brands on social media, not all social media platforms are designed for this use case. Some are purely for instant messaging and some platforms are wildly popular in other areas of the world, like China.
Interestingly enough, the most recent data I could find on monthly active users for each platform in the U.S. alone was Statista’s from 2019—and three years is an eternity for social media. So I went with this chart from Pew Research:
According to Pew, the most popular social media platforms in the U.S. are:
This data is less ideal, as it’s based on the percent of adults who said they ever used the platforms, and it doesn’t look like Facebook Messenger was included. Nevertheless, the list is starting to look more familiar, right?
According to Statista, the most popular social media platforms for marketing are:
Data source: Statista
In the rest of this post, we’re going to explore what is popular on each of these platforms.
Note: I didn’t include YouTube here because my brain still doesn’t see it as a social media platform. I know I need to change my act. While I work on that, you can get plenty of YouTube tips here.
Everything…just kidding (sort of). It is the biggest social media platform worldwide and its versatility makes it a go-to for just about anything. But in particular, Facebook is best for the following:
Did you know that Facebook is right up there with Google My Business as one of the top local business directories? When you think about what a Facebook business page contains, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. This includes:
60% of Facebook users visit a local business Page at least once a week, so promote your page, and use it to build relationships, keep customers updated, and connect with your local community.
While your business page is a popular hub for those who know about your business, Facebook isn’t the best platform for reaching new audiences organically. In fact, its organic reach is 2.2% (compared to Instagram at 9.4%).
On the other hand, thanks to its size and targeting capabilities, Facebook is tied with Google as a top digital advertising platform. Facebook ads can reach up to 36.7% of the adult population, the highest percentage of all social media platforms (Twitter is the lowest, at 6.5%).
An average Facebook user clicks on 12 ads per month and the volume of impressions can raise brand awareness and improve your ad performance elsewhere. In terms of cost, the average conversion rate and cost per conversion on Facebook is 9.21% and $18.68, compared to 4.40% and $56.11 for Google Search.
Compared to Instagram, Facebook’s cost per click and click-through rate is $0.49 and 3.06%, vs Instagram at $1.09 and 0.68%.
Influencer Marketing Hub also tells us that age 65+ is the fastest-growing demographic for Facebook ad reach. In 2021, this group grew by 25%. Now this, of course, doesn’t mean that this is the most popular age group on Facebook. It’s still 25-34, but for the 65+ age group, it is the preferred platform.
Here’s an interesting find. According to Statista, photos and links are the leading types of branded posts on Facebook (videos and status updates pale in comparison). BUT this is just quantity of posts—not engagement of posts. So on the one hand, links and photos are a good bet since they’re what users expect, but they’re most frequent because they’re the easiest to create. Which means that posting videos can give you a competitive edge.
🎬 Action time: Check out these 9 Ways to Level Up Your Facebook Video Marketing—which include finding your “aha” moment, formatting properly, using captions, and more.
Don’t let Facebook’s low organic reach deter you from using it to engage with your audience. Many people often use a business’s Facebook page to check for announcements, store closings, sales, and other recent information. If you use your page in this manner, your customers and close followers will know to check your page frequently and you won’t have to worry as much about showing up in their feeds.
You can then cater your posts to the quality traffic you are getting to your page—sparking discussions and engaging back with individuals, encouraging direct messaging, and more.
Facebook can work for any industry or business, but according to the data, we can see that for ads, the industries that see the highest conversion rates are
For organic engagement, we see that healthcare, restaurants, and finance verticals see the highest engagement rates.
🎬 Action time: Learn how to master the organic Facebook algorithm with these 6 ways to show up in the Facebook News Feed.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to say visual marketing! Visual marketing should not be an isolated strategy. It should be a staple for all of your strategies, not just on social media. Here is where Instagram stands out above the rest:
Instagram advertising costs may be higher than Facebook, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good channel for paid social advertising. First of all, purchase intent is highest on Instagram, with 36% of users using it to follow brands (compared to just 19% for Facebook).
Instagram also has the highest organic engagement rate between users and brands—10 times greater than Facebook, 54 times greater than Pinterest, and 84 times greater than Twitter. And with shoppable ads, Instagram has turned planned shopping on its head and folded product discovery and impulse buying into our organic behaviors, making it the most influential social media platform on our shopping habits.
Still not convinced?
Not only does Instagram have the highest organic reach of all social media platforms (9.4%)…
…but it also has the highest organic engagement rate, at 1.16% compared to 0.27% on Facebook and 0.07% on Twitter.
This should come as no surprise, as many social media influencers use Instagram as their HQ. Marketers spend about 69% of their influencer budgets on Instagram, which is more than any other network (the second network on that list is YouTube at 11%).
🎬 Action time: To get started with influencer marketing, learn how to find social media influencers in your industry to help you promote your content.
According to Influencer Marketing Hub screenshots of tweets began growing in popularity on Instagram a year ago. This doesn’t mean you can take screenshots of your Tweets and expect them to succeed on Instagram. The trend is geared for humorous tweets, so unless your tweets fit the bill, I’d suggest other content repurposing strategies.
It also comes as no surprise that the industries that tend to thrive on Instagram are: travel, beauty, fashion, health & fitness, lifestyle, parenting, business, music, photography, food, animals.
But here are some surprising finds from other studies. For one, the industries on Instagram with the highest reach rates were electronics, technology and software, and food and beverage.
And the same study found that the industries with the highest engagement rates on Instagram were technology, consumer goods, office supplies, and automotive.
RivalIQ, on the other hand, found that the top three industries for engagement were higher education, sports teams, and nonprofits (I excluded influencers here since, well, influencers).
The data is a bit all over the place, so I think we can say that Instagram is good for a wide variety of industries. I mean, if office supplies can do it, anyone can.
Psst…Have you been to the Social Media Marketing Lab? It’s got tons of insider tips, best practices, and creative ideas for social media marketing.
Much more than just expressing your brand in 360 characters or less at a time. But that is, by far, its biggest distinguishing factor.
The fast-paced, direct-connect nature of Twitter has made it a go-to channel for customers to reach out to brands. In a recent survey, two out of three people chose Twitter as their preferred social media channel for customer care. And as a public-facing platform, brands that use it for customer service can also build their reputation at the same time.
According to Quicksprout, videos may get favorited 49% more than images, but images get 128% more retweets than videos. So if you want to expand your reach on Twitter, I say go with the pics.
However, Influencer Marketing Hub reports that Twitter’s advertisable audience is 60% male:
But it is important to note that Twitter has the smallest reach of all social media platforms in terms of advertising audience (6.5%, compared to Facebook at 36.7%).
So Twitter is not the most popular social media platform people report on using for the news, according to Pew (it’s Facebook), but other sources beg to differ. Statista says 56% of Twitter users get their news from Twitter, compared to only 38% with Facebook.
Another study shows that 59% of users use it regularly to get the news. Yet another source says that 74% use it to get their news or headlines. And also, journalists make up almost 25% of all verified accounts on Twitter.
I think but this comes down to what you consider news. Global news? Local news? News in your niche? News that wasn’t supposed to be news? For example, we often first hear about news in the PPC world through #PPCchat on Twitter.
This means that if your audience is on Twitter, you may consider sharing industry news as a part of your strategy.
🎬 Action time: Get up to speed on the latest Twitter features for marketing and use them to engage your audience.
Pew tells us that Twitter users are younger, more highly educated, and wealthier than the general public. 42% of U.S. adults on Twitter have a least a college degree, versus 31% of all Americans, and 41% of all adult Twitter users earn at least $75,000 a year versus 32% of all American adults.
As with any platform in this post, most businesses can find a way to benefit from Twitter marketing—it’s about how effectively you use it. But there are some categories that seem to have more ease with success than others.
According to Rival IQ, verticals with the highest engagement rates on Twitter are education, sports teams, food and beverage, alcohol, and nonprofits.
According to Social Insider, the industries that get the most engagement on Twitter are restaurants, auto, and healthcare businesses. Another study showed that automotive, computer software, and retail industries are the biggest users of Twitter analytics. It’s also worth noting that Twitter is a top channel for healthcare communication.
Do I even need to say it? But actually, there’s more to LinkedIn than you might think. Let’s learn about some of its strong points.
As a professional, business-based social media network, I should hope that LinkedIn is the best for B2B marketing. After some fact-checking, we can safely conclude that it is.
Also, according to Sprout Social 70% of LinkedIn users live outside the US, making it a solid platform for international B2B businesses.
🎬 Action time: Check to make sure you’re using all of the LinkedIn company page features available to you for maximum engagement
It’s no Instagram, but LinkedIn’s organic engagement rate is double that of Facebook, which makes sense. People use this platform specifically for business and networking purposes, so they are naturally receptive to posts and messages of transactional or marketing nature.
Also, with fewer posts per day and members than Facebook, the competition is lower. So it’s no wonder why 95% of B2B content marketers use LinkedIn as an organic marketing channel.
360 characters or less may be ideal for Twitter, but an analysis by Okdork found that long-form content (the “article” post type, between 1,900-2,000 words) gets the greatest number of views, likes, comments, and shares on LinkedIn.
🎬 Action time: To write an article, simply navigate to the “Start a post” box at the top of your company page and choose “write article.”
Don’t let the whole B2B thing on LinkedIn fool you—this platform has a warm and fuzzy side too. Members don’t just use LinkedIn to find jobs and network, but also to better themselves, personally and professionally. As such, inspiring and community-building content about leadership and core values has a nice home here, whether you’re celebrating others or expressing your own.
Instagram isn’t the only place for rainbows and unicorns.
🎬 Action time: Take a look at this list of over 200 core values and nail down yours. Then make this a common theme in your posts for both your company page or your personal page.
When asked which social media platforms they feel most confident in about protecting their privacy and data, consumers ranked LinkedIn first, and Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook last. So for what it’s worth, your LinkedIn audience data might be your most reliable.
🎬 Action time: Learn how to use LinkedIn Website Demographics to perfect your B2B buyer personas and supercharge your ad performance.
The most popular categories on LinkedIn are IT, hospital and health, construction, retail, and education management. IT, in particular, makes up 4% of all profiles on LinkedIn.
As for advertising, the B2B House says that public administration, retail, and manufacturing get the most engagement.
In a study by Global Web Index, 60% of TikTok users said their main reason for using the platform was to find funny or entertaining videos, while the rest of the reasons—for inspiration, self-expression, trend updates, and socializing—were each chosen by only roughly 25% of users.
In other words, your how-to videos or quick tutorials might do better on Instagram and Facebook, and if you’re thinking of advertising on TikTok, the entertainment factor needs to be in top shape.
According to TikTok, nearly 50%of the best-performing ads on TikTok have an emotional drive to them. But while anger, disgust, affirmation, and fear are the four top-selling emotions, the vibe to go for with TikTok is on the lighter side—”real and relatable,” it says, “with an undertone of lightheartedness and positivity.”
Influencer Marketing Hub’s 2021 benchmarks report found that TikTok is catching up to Instagram as an influencer marketing platform. While Instagram still reigns, it dropped in popularity from 80% in 2020 to 68% in 2021. TikTok, on the other hand, didn’t even make it onto the chart last year, but this year it’s the second most popular platform at 45%.
Kubbco tells us the most popular categories on TikTok include:
And Open Business Council tells us the most popular industries are:
One of the most common Facebook video ad tips is to optimize for muted viewing, as 85% of Facebook videos are watched with the sound off. With Snapchat, however, 64% of video ads are watched with the sound on—a great opportunity to use music in your ads and create more immersive experiences.
Snapchat is also a great platform for location-based marketing. In addition to geofilters, it offers Snap Map—a location-sharing feature that users to find nearby users and businesses (30 million businesses and counting). According to Snap Inc., 250+ million users access Snap Map on a monthly basis, an increase from 200+ million users in Q2 2020.
According to Snapchat, Snapchatters and apps are BFFs:
So if you’re marketing an app, this platform is sure to be of use to you.
According to a 2018 study commissioned by Snapchat, the social media platform that inspires the most positive emotions is Snapchat. Users were asked how often they feel particular emotions on each platform, and here are the results:
The top three emotions for each platform are as follows:
There isn’t much out there in the way of industry-specific insights for Snapchat marketing, but according to Geofilter Studio, the industries that stand to benefit most from Snapchat geofilters are restaurants, concerts, schools/universities, gyms, and salons. In addition, the beauty and personals category sees 6x more effective ads on Snapchat versus TV, when using Snapchat Lens.
Now you know not just what the most popular social media platforms are, but what they’re each most popular for so you can incorporate them into your social media marketing strategy.
Here’s a quick recap of the most popular social media platforms in 2022 and what they’re most popular for:
For even more social media marketing know-how, head to the Social Media Marketing Lab— a free course with tons of creative ideas, insider tips, and best practices.
Kristen is the Senior Managing Editor at WordStream, where she helps businesses to make sense of their online marketing and advertising. She specializes in local SEO, copywriting, and conversion optimization, and she finds life to be exponentially more delightful on a bicycle.
See other posts by Kristen McCormick
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