The year 2021 may be looked upon as the beginning of a time of transition for social media, a period when the industry giants began to lose ground to the new kids on the block. The Infinite Dial 2021, from Edison Research and Triton Digital, chronicles the latest data and stats for social media, which it has been tracking since 2008.
Social media experienced regular growth between 2008 and 2016, when it began to plateau. It gained two percentage points from 2020 to 2021, when the research estimates that 82% of the population are using it, for an estimated total of 233 million Americans.
The research suggests that Facebook continues its lead in social media brand awareness, recognized by 93% of respondents, followed by Instagram and Twitter. There is, as usual, some variance between awareness and usage.
Overall usage figures from Triton Digital and Edison Research show Facebook again in the lead with 61% of respondents, followed by Instagram with 43% and Pinterest holding the number three position with 31% of those surveyed. As this data is parsed by demographics, the usage figures begin to tell a story.
When usage numbers are crunched for the 12–34 demographic, Facebook fell from 62% in 2019 to 57% for 2021. Over the same time period, Instagram rose from 66% to 70%. Without a doubt, The Infinite Dial’s data suggests that the biggest mover was TikTok, which went from 25% in 2020 to 44% in 2021. A new player for 2021, Parler, made its debut at 3%.
The usage numbers for those aged 35–54 show similar trends. 2020 numbers for Facebook were 74%, which dropped to 71% in 2021. Over the same period, Instagram inched up slightly from 38% to 40%, while TikTok jumped from 5% to 16%. Parler grabbed 8% in its first showing.
The numbers for the 55+ group look a bit different. According to the data, Facebook still leads, but only by 57% for the current year, up from 52% in 2020. Instagram went from 15% to 17% over the same period. TikTok saw an increase from 2% to 6%, while Parler won over just 6% of the senior demographic.
When the numbers are compared from 2015 to 2021 for social media brand used most often, The Infinite Dial’s data suggests some interesting trends. Facebook has steadily headed downward, from 65% to 47%, making 2021 the first year that Facebook is not indicated as the most-used platform by a majority of social media users. Much of Facebook’s loss seems to have been taken up by those in the 12–34 demographic’s interest in Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat.