Social media use by generation Show me

Knowing which social media platform is best for marketing your business can be tricky, and it depends on a whole heap of things. Knowing where your target audience likes to hang out on social is key. But just because your target audience is using a certain platform the most, doesn’t necessarily mean this is the best one for you to be promoting on.

When thinking about the right social media platform to use, marketers need to consider their social media strategy holistically. 

Not only focusing on where your potential customers are at, but why they use each platform is a vital part of your digital marketing.

The kind of content you’re pushing out, along with the sector you’re in, and the kind of business you have are all major players when it comes to deciding which social media channel is best. Are paid ads the way to go? Or does influencer marketing work best when finding potential customers for your brand?

Social media marketing seems easy, and the good news is, it can be if you know enough about your audience. 

Which social media platform has the most users? 

Facebook has 2.9 billion monthly active users

Outside China, Facebook is the most widely used platform with nearly 3 billion Facebook users, followed by Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. And it’s still the most popular social media platform companies use for marketing, according to business professionals themselves.

Facebook is a great social platform for businesses who are just looking to get started with their social media presence as it’s super easy to set up your Facebook page, however it’s not suited to all businesses. With plenty of people turning away from ad heavy content, the Facebook algorithm is geared towards community and conversation starting posts. Joining a Facebook group can help overcome this hurdle, but many groups have strict rules about advertising and promoting your business.

One of the key benefits of Facebook advertising is its expansive targeting options, that enable you to really zero in on the audience you’re trying to target. Even better, you can now plug your GWI audiences straight into Facebook ads for a more targeted, seamless approach to your next marketing campaign.

Instagram has 2 billion monthly active users

Instagram welcomes around 2 billion users each month. Gen Z uses Instagram more often than Facebook, and this is a trend we see among 13-15s too – who use Instagram and TikTok more on a weekly basis than other social sites. This platform is great for visual products, especially because you can share loads of video content using the Instagram story or reel functions, and with an integrated shopping tool, it works brilliantly for ecommerce too. 

WhatsApp has 2 billion monthly active users

Outside China, WhatsApp is the favorite app with internet users followed by Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, and with around 2 billion users per month, those figures are stacking up . It’s great for customer service as you can use it to keep in touch with your customers, provide updates, or as an alternative to chat bots on your website. However, as this is primarily a messaging platform, it doesn’t have the same visual aspects as other social media platforms, and it’s much easier for customers to remove themselves from seeing your content. 

TikTok has 1 billion monthly active users

TikTok has made a lot of headway over the last few years and now has over 1 billion monthly active users. And according to our data, there’s been a 20% year-on-year rise in the number of professionals saying their company uses TikTok for marketing. And there’s plenty of evidence that advertisers are moving to TikTok elsewhere too. There have also been some global changes over time. There’s been a 37% rise in the number of consumers outside China saying TikTok is their favorite social media platform, with over a third of TikTokers saying they use the app to follow/find information about products and brands.

With plenty of videos going ‘viral’ from TikTok, it’s been a great way for many brands, particularly small businesses, to get themselves known and leap to the forefront of consumers’ minds. 

LinkedIn has 875 million monthly active users

LinkedIn doesn’t publish monthly active user data, but based on its global advertising audience reach numbers, it has at least 849.6 million members; it’s come a long way from the job search app it used to be to become a place where business professionals can network, industries can share news, and companies can headhunt star talent. 

LinkedIn ads are pretty expensive, with a whole host of formats and targeting options to suit any budget. And with 4 out of 5 members driving business decisions, this is great for b2b companies hoping to make some new connections, pick up customers or find their next top employee.

Which social media platform is best for selling products? 

E-commerce on social media is really picking up speed. With people using internet search less, and social media more to discover products, having the option to shop as you scroll is a no-brainer. Millennials are more likely to use Instagram Shopping Bag, and say the option to use a “buy” button on a social network would most increase their likelihood of buying a product online than all internet users. 

We might be in a cost of living crisis, but as our latest Connecting the dots shows, consumers are still looking to splurge. 

41% of Gen Z and millennials make an impulse purchase online every 2-3 weeks, rising to 48% among daily TikTok users. 

For context, this drops to 10% among baby boomers, a salute to the work being done by social media search tools.

Best social media platform for targeting Gen Z 

Born between 1997 and 2005, this generation is most commonly linked with TikTok. But with 28% of Gen Zs saying that Instagram is their favorite social media platform, you’re most likely to find them scrolling here. They’re also the most likely generation to use social media to discover new products and brands, as well as follow their family or friends.

Best social media platform for targeting millennials 

Millennials equals Insta, right? Wrong. For this generation, social media is more for reading news, and following celebrities. 21% of millennials say that Facebook and WhatsApp are their favorite social media platforms to use. More importantly, they engage with brands a lot; 36% of millennials say they follow brands they buy from, or are thinking about buying from on all social platforms. And as the largest group of consumers, getting a millennial following isn’t as uncool as Gen Z would have you think. 

Best social media platform for targeting baby boomers

Across all generations and outside China, TikTok has seen the biggest year-on-year growth among baby boomers (+27%). But WhatsApp and Facebook are still taking the top spot, with 24% of boomers saying these platforms are their fave. They’re also the generation least likely to say they follow brands or influencers, much preferring TV and search engines to discover businesses online. 

It goes to show, there’s no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to social media marketing. Knowing the right social media platforms for your business isn’t a straight-forward answer, choosing the right social channels to suit your marketing strategy takes research and an in-depth insight into your audience.

Got questions about your audience on social? We’ve got the answers. Find out more about GWI and access the world’s most insightful consumer data.

Infographic: Social media use by generation Show me

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