This is the last in a series about the latest edition of “The Infinite Dial” report. (Read the previous story.)
For the third year in a row, the findings of the Infinite Dial tell us that social media use among Americans is at 82 percent, suggesting it may have reached a plateau.
Although the total hasn’t changed, the research reveal some changes in how the pie is being divided.
The data from Edison Research indicates that Facebook is still the dominant player in this category, holding a commanding lead over its next three rivals, Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest.
That said, according to Edison’s numbers, Facebook appears to be losing ground across all demographics. It took a big hit in the 12–34 group over the past year, dropping from 34 to 20 percent. Facebook’s loss appears to be Instagram’s and TikTok’s gain.
Among ages 35–54, Facebook use fell from 61 to 55 percent. Instagram, TikTok and Twitter were the beneficiaries.
55+ has long been a stronghold for Facebook and still is. However, use among this group fell three percentage points, from 77 to 74 percent. Again, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter have gained. The drop in the “other” category from nine to four percent is also interesting.
Social media began largely as a text-based service, but has expanded into audio and multimedia. Awareness of audio-based social media services made a big jump, according to Edison’s research, from 21 to 35 percent, or about 100 million of us.
There is often a gap between awareness and usage, and for this category, the data shows a huge chasm. Over the past year, usage has gone from three to four percent.
Two new players have appeared in Edison’s social media ranking this year, Truth Social and Mastodon. Note that Discord was added to the survey last year.
Truth Social was launched in February of 2022 by former President Donald Trump, following his ban from Facebook and Twitter.
Mastodon is free and open-source software for running self-hosted social networking services. It was initially created as an alternative to Twitter.
Compare the awareness chart above to the usage chart, second from top of this story.
Although not yet ranked by Edison, NOSTR — Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays — may bear watching in 2023. Running on an open protocol, it enables global, decentralized and censorship-resistant social media.
The Infinite Dial’s research suggests little growth in the social media category this year. While no reasons are offered, a closer look at the newer entries, Discord, Truth Justice and Mastodon might suggest an explanation. All of them appear to have the common themes of decentralization and freedom from censorship. Perhaps some of the lack of growth in this category might be due to a growing dissatisfaction with the status quo, and an interest in going down a different path in the future.