2018 featured record highs, as well as some lows as well for the top social media platforms. Let’s review some of these changes and new features, and take a look at how different users reacted to them throughout the year.

Several of the top social media platforms introduced brand new features in 2018. For instance, Instagram debuted IGTV, while Snapchat piloted group video chats for its users. Other networks offered users more live video options or new channels for the Post-TV generation of young users. Others attempted less successful changes in the past year, from Snapchat’s redesign or its launch of Spectacles (both of which were met with less-than-positive feedback) to Facebook’s continuing challenges with user data and privacy. Similarly, Twitter faced its own hurdles regarding censorship.

With all of the successes and challenges of the past year, Millennial and Gen Z users’ behavior and preferences played a significant role in the performance of social platforms. The most popular social media channels varied throughout the year, as well as by age and gender demographics. As brands look ahead and strategize about how to most effectively connect with young audiences through social networks, understanding these user results from the past year will be an important first step.

In 2018, among users aged 13-36, the top social media brands were Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and Twitter, in that order. Last year, an impressive 79% of Gen Z’ers and Millennials used Facebook, with YouTube coming in at a close second at 74%. Instagram closed the year with 66% of young people currently using the platform, down from 77% in 2017. Snapchat’s popularity was also down slightly from last year, with 49% in 2018 compared to 54% in 2017.

These numbers shift when looking at more specific demographics. On one hand, among 13-17 year old male users, YouTube was the most popular social media network. In second place for this demographic was Instagram, followed by Snapchat, then Facebook and Twitter. But for female users in the same age bracket, the top spot goes to Instagram, with YouTube and Snapchat very close behind, followed by Facebook and Twitter.

For the next-oldest age range, Millennial males 18-36 years old, the platform they used every day was by far Facebook, at 68%. The next most popular platforms were YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and then Snapchat. For female users between 18-36 years old, Facebook was the most widely used platform, closing the year at 67%. In second place was Instagram at 60%, followed by Snapchat and YouTube at 34% and 32%, and Twitter at 27%.

Regardless of age, gender, or time of year, these numbers demonstrate how in 2018, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram dominated Millennial and Gen Z social media usage, with strong and relatively consistent usage rates for each platform throughout the year. Across demographics, Snapchat experienced a peak in popularity in mid-year, but its usage rate has declined in recent months. As brands look ahead to maximizing their social media presence over the coming months, these key analytics can help guide strategy and inform decision-making.

Varsity Spirit and Our Corporate Partners

Varsity Spirit works alongside our corporate partners to help them be useful, relevant and entertaining to teenage consumers.  These young consumers could very well become lifelong customers.  Contact us today, and let’s start the conversation about how we can get your brand in front of millions of the nation’s most spirited and influential teen leaders.