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Research Says Social Media Has Hit a Plateau

For the second year, TikTok shows substantial gains in this dynamic ecosphere

This story is part of a week-long series where author Tom Vernon breaks down the newly-released “Infinite Dial” report, which gives insights into various aspects of radio’s modern competitive environment and consumer consumption habits. 

The findings from The Infinite Dial 2022 suggest that growth in social media usage has hit a plateau at around 82 percent of the population. That does not mean that this space has stagnated, far from it. New players continue to be a disruptive force that challenges the standard bearers. Consumers continue to be a driving force in the creation of content.

The Infinite Dial 2022 report. Graph detailing social media usage by year.

For the second year, the lead story in social media, according to The Infinite Dial, is the explosive growth of TikTok. Brand awareness places it in third place with 88 percent recognition, rapidly closing in on leaders Facebook and Instagram. 

Usage data tells a similar story, With TikTok again ranked third with 36 percent behind Facebook and Instagram. For comparison, recall that last year’s Infinite Dial had ranked TikTok sixth in brand usage with 23 percent of users. The data also suggests that at least some of TikTok’s gain has come at the expense of Snapchat. 

The Infinite Dial 2022 report. Graph detailing social media usage by brand.

So what is TikTok’s secret for success? Edison Research SVP Tom Webster posits it may  simply be the realization that most people don’t want to create content, but merely be consumers of it.

The implications of these findings for content creators seems clear. They need to pay attention to this platform if they want to maximize audience reach and penetration, particularly for the younger demographic.

When social media usage is broken out by age demographics, the Edison’s research shows  Instagram leading the 12-34 group holding 72 percent of respondents. TikTok is second with 61 percent and Facebook ranks third with 58 percent.

Those age 35-54 still preferred Facebook, which leads the pack with 76 percent, while Instagram grabbed second place with 45 percent. TikTok appears with a strong third at 34 percent, more than doubling their 16 percent showing from last year.

Facebook still holds a commanding lead of 57 percent with those 55+. Coming in a distant second, Pinterest took 20 percent, while Instagram lands in third place with 18 percent. TikTok tied for fourth place with LinkedIn, both getting 13 percent. Noteworthy though, TikTok again more than doubled their showing from last year when they held 6 percent, while LinkedIn slipped two percentage points.

The Infinite Dial 2022 report. Graph detailing social media brand usage over time, broken down by individual platforms.

When the survey asked what brands respondents use most often, Facebook came in first with 54 percent, Instagram second with 14 percent  and TikTok finished third with 10 percent.

The Infinite Dial 2022 report. Graph detailing social media brand usage, broken down by age group.

For the first time, The Infinite Dial is tracking audio-based social media services. The research shows Twitter Spaces ahead of the other two entrants, Clubhouse and Spotify Greenroom. Usage data places Twitter Spaces with 2 percent, while Clubhouse and Spotify Greenroom each have 1 percent. These numbers suggest an insignificant impact, but might serve as an important benchmark moving forward. Three years ago, who knew about TikTok?

[Read the next in this five-part series: “Spotify, Pandora and AppleMusic Lead in Online Audio Brand Awareness”]