Facebook Usage Continues to Drop; Preferences in Social Media Usage Vary Most by Age
There are now approximately 223 million social media users age 12+ in the U.S., and their original social media platform of choice, Facebook, is losing ground among users of all ages, for various reasons.
The Social Habit 2019 is a new study from Edison Research designed to dig deeper after a finding from The Infinite Dial®2019 (from Edison Research and Triton Digital® ) showed that Facebook has 15 million fewer users overall in the U.S. in 2019 than 2017.
The latest study shows that around one-third of Facebook users are using the platform less often than when they joined, regardless of age, but the reasons for using Facebook less vary widely with age. Those age 13-34 say they are using Facebook less because they enjoy other social media sites more, their friends don’t post much on Facebook, and because they are trying to avoid parents and relatives on the site. Those age 35+ say they are using Facebook less because they don’t like rants and have privacy concerns.
“Not only have millions of Americans stopped using Facebook entirely, nearly a third of Facebook users tell us they are using the service less. While Facebook remains the leading social media brand in America, it is being wounded on multiple fronts, as every demographic has their own reasons for spending less time there,” said Tom Webster, Senior Vice President at Edison Research.
Other findings include:
- The “core users” of the different social media brands, (those who use that one ‘most often’) have different demographic profiles. Those who use LinkedIn and Twitter most are more likely to be male. Pinterest and Facebook users are more likely to be female. Snapchat is evenly split.
- WhatsApp differentiates itself from other social media brands in the U.S. by having the most ethnically diverse user base. Thirty-eight percent of WhatsApp users are Hispanic, 28% are white, 27% are other ethnicity, and 7% are African American.
- Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter have the highest composition of U.S. users age 12-34. Facebook and Pinterest have the highest composition of U.S. users age 55+. LinkedIn claims the highest percentage of those age 35-54
In qualitative interviews, Edison Research spoke with social media users age 18-29 who report using Facebook less recently or have stopped altogether. Those users describe some of the reasons they are using Facebook less, including avoiding family members on Facebook, experiencing discomfort with some of the “attention-seeking” they see on social media, and gravitating to other, more photo-heavy platforms. Paradoxically, though, the same users articulate FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, as they scan social media platforms, and feel compelled to participate in social media.
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How the Study was Conducted:
The Social Habit is an in-depth look at social media users in the U.S. which uses data from the following three studies:
National Telephone Survey from The Infinite Dial®2019 from Edison Research and Triton Digital®. In January/February 2019, Edison Research conducted a national telephone survey of 1,500 people aged 12 and older, using random digit dialing techniques to both cell phones and landlines (U.S. Population 12+). Telephone data weighted to national 12+ U.S. population figures
National Online Survey from The Social Habit Survey from Edison Research. In May 2019, Edison Research conducted a national online survey of 850 people aged 13 and older. Data has been weighted to match The Infinite Dial®
In-person in-depth interviews, from The Social Habit Interviews from Edison Research. In April 2019, Edison Research interviewed twelve social media users age 18-29 who report using Facebook less recently or have stopped altogether
About Edison Research:
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients, including Activision, AMC Theatres, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Google, Oracle, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, The Gates Foundation, and Univision. Edison is the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research on the medium for NPR, Slate, ESPN, PodcastOne, WNYC Studios, and many more companies in the space. Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool, conducting exit polls and collecting precinct vote returns to project and analyze results for every major presidential primary and general election.