The Top 6 Social Media Platforms, Explained

Asen Marketing Asen Marketing

Social Media

If you ask someone in their 60s “what’s the biggest social media platform?” there’s a solid chance they’ll say Facebook. Ask a 20-year-old and it might be TikTok. For someone in their mid 30s, it could be Instagram.

The truth is, the answer’s hard to pin down because it’s always changing. As of 2024, six of the biggest players are:

  1. Facebook – 3.05 billion monthly active users
  2. YouTube – 2.49 billion monthly active users
  3. Instagram – 2.04 billion monthly active users
  4. TikTok – 1.22 billion monthly active users
  5. Pinterest – 456 million monthly active users
  6. LinkedIn – 424 million monthly active users

Now, let’s break down those rankings…

Keep reading to learn more about the top social platforms and the unique selling points of each.

1. Facebook

In 2021, Facebook the company officially underwent a name change to Meta, but the social media site has kept its original name. While Facebook has recently gotten a reputation as the place baby boomers hang out online, the overall percentage of users over 65 is fairly low at only 6%. The largest demographic still sits at males from 25-34, making up over 18% of users

Some stats for business owners and brand managers:

  • 66% of Facebook users visit a local business page at least once a week
  • 69% of online shoppers who use Meta platforms weekly made purchases after seeing personalized content on Facebook or Instagram
  • The average US user spends 33 minutes per day on Facebook

2. YouTube

YouTube has almost entirely replaced TV for many. The data reflects this; On average, users spend over 23 hours per month on YouTube — more than on any other social media platform.

Some stats for business owners and brand managers:

  • 59% of Gen Z users say they use short-form video apps like YouTube Shorts to discover content that leads them to longer versions of the same video
  • 68% of users watched YouTube to help them make a purchase decision
  • 13.8% of internet users aged 16-64 use videos for brand research

3. Instagram

Founded in 2010, Instagram focuses almost exclusively on image and video sharing, building a lucrative niche in the social media landscape. A key feature of Instagram are “Stories” — posts that are only on the platform for 24 hours before removal.

The short-form “Reels” also helped keep Instagram competitive when social media users fell in love with this format via TikTok and YouTube Shorts. Owned by Meta since 2012, Instagram has roughly half of its US users falling between ages 18-34.

Some stats for business owners and brand managers:

  • 50% of Instagram users say they’ve visited a brand’s website after viewing their Stories
  • 90% of Instagram users follow a business
  • 62.3% of Instagram users worldwide say they use the platform to follow or research brands and products

4. TikTok

The video-sharing app takes full advantage of users’ scrolling habits on phones, leading from one video to the next and the next. At 1.22 billion worldwide users, TikTok has a massive reach, but those numbers could soon change in the U.S. due to recent government regulations. The parent company, ByteDance, is challenging the ruling, so time will tell what happens here.

Some stats for business owners and brand managers:

  • TikTok appeals to the youngest users — nearly half are between 12 and 24 years old
  • TikTok users worldwide spend an average of 22.9 hours per month on the app
  • 63% of TikTok ads with the highest click-through rate (CTR) share their message within the first three seconds

5. Pinterest

A digital bulletin board with an over 75% female audience, Pinterest has a well-established demographic and shares an 86% user overlap with Instagram. The brand also has a good track record — 8 out of 10 people associate Pinterest with feeling positive. This has a lot to do with why people use Pinterest. In most cases, they are working on something they enjoy, whether it’s planning a vacation, collecting recipes, or learning a hobby.

This “positive platform” contrasts with the often polarizing political and social dialogue on other platforms and can even help boost sales, as JJ Hirschle, Head of US Partnerships at Pinterest notes: “…positivity is a key driver for action, so Pinterest sets the bar high for advertisers as a platform that will benefit both their audiences and bottom line.”

Some stats for business owners and brand managers:

  • The main reason people use Pinterest is to follow or research brands and products
  • 97% of top searches on Pinterest are unbranded (meaning users haven’t made up their minds yet and/or are looking for inspiration or ideas)
  • Almost 10.4% of Internet users between the ages of 16-64 use online pinboards for brand research

6. Linkedin

Acquired by Microsoft in 2016, LinkedIn is what we think it is: a digital resume, a place to network with other professionals, and a place for businesses to post job listings and generate B2B leads. While it touts over 194 million users in the U.S., only 16% log in daily, and nearly 50% sign on just once a month. 

Some stats for business owners and brand managers:

  • LinkedIn is especially popular among high-income earners and college-educated users
  • LinkedIn ads reach 857 million people, just over 10% of the world’s population
  • LinkedIn experienced a 17% growth in revenue by the end of 2022, and a 8.7% increase in the fiscal year 2023 (leading to over $15 billion in total revenue)
  • The most-followed brands on LinkedIn include: Amazon, Google, TED Conferences, Microsoft, Unilever, and Forbes

Ready for your brand to thrive on social media?

At a time when social media popularity is riding on an increasing peak, it’s more important than ever for business owners and marketers to understand how to take advantage of multi-channel social media marketing.

We understand that effective social media can be time-consuming, but with a proper strategy, brands can flourish by reaching new and current customers where they’re most active. Want to learn more or see some of our social media strategies in action? Follow us (@thrivewithasen) for more content like this or reach out to us at asenmarketing.com/contact to discuss your social media marketing needs.

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