Social media remains surprisingly competitive in 2023, despite the dominance of certain players. There is room for startups and new entrants, although some of those new entrants come from existing players.
For example, Facebook has faded in popularity with users from the younger millennial generation, who prefer TikTok -- questions about privacy and snooping be damned. The bulk of Facebook's users are Gen Xers.
Still, Facebook launched a new microblogging site, Threads, to compete with Twitter. Threads amassed 100 million users within a week of launch, due largely to Twitter users' frustration under its new ownership. Whether or not Threads maintains its user base remains to be seen.
The changing landscape surrounding social media means social media business strategies need to adapt as well. Successful businesses need to know their target audience -- and where to find that audience.
Social media's increasing impact -- by the numbers
According to the analysts at DataReportal, the following are among the top social media sites as of July 2023:
- Facebook has 2.99 billion monthly active users (MAUs).
- YouTube's potential advertising reach is 2.53 billion people.
- WhatsApp has at least 2 billion MAUs.
- Instagram has 2 billion MAUs.
- TikTok ads can potentially reach nearly 1.08 billion adults each month.
- Snapchat has 750 million MAUs.
- Pinterest has 463 million MAUs.
- Twitter's reported potential advertising reach is 564 million.
LinkedIn, which doesn't publish monthly active user data, is the de facto site for business professionals, job hunters and recruiters.
Most social networks have an even split of male to female users. The streaming site Twitch, though, is overwhelmingly popular with males, 79% of its user base. Pinterest and TikTok are the two of the most popular platforms with women, who constitute 76.2% and 54% of their user bases, respectively.
Plans changed for social media usage in 2023
Social media is no longer about providing a photograph of a meal. Instead, video -- both short form and livestreaming -- has taken over social media.
YouTube is immensely popular, but it's a broadcast platform more than a social network. The real action is where people post short-form videos -- sometimes recorded in their cars of all places -- e.g., Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok.
Meanwhile, livestreaming of high-definition video has become standard. This is especially popular on the site Twitch, where visitors experience everything from gamers playing a shooter simulation to musicians performing a solo act.
Most social media sites seek to attract as broad an audience as possible, but some have specialties. Here's how they break down:
- Facebook. Facebook is particularly popular among older adults and with people who live in developing countries.
- YouTube. YouTube is particularly popular among young people interested in watching videos about entertainment, music and gaming.
- WhatsApp. WhatsApp's main appeal is to people who live in developing countries and people who are looking for a way to communicate with friends and family who live in other countries.
- Instagram. Due to its photo-sharing orientation, the site is particularly popular with people interested in fashion, beauty and photography.
- TikTok. TikTok is a short-form video platform popular with young people who like to share funny videos, e.g., performing challenges -- sometimes dangerous -- and dancing to songs.
- Twitter. Twitter is a microblogging platform particularly popular among people discussing news, current events and politics.
- Snapchat. Snapchat is a messaging platform popular with young people because of its ability to send photos and videos that disappear after they are viewed.
- Twitch. Twitch is a livestreaming video broadcast network popular with male gamers and musicians who like to broadcast themselves playing a video game or an instrument. Twitch does have its female fan base as well.
Social media platforms' deeper impact
The following is a breakdown of the finer demographic details of the major social media platforms.
As of July 2023, according to DataReportal, Facebook had 2.99 billion MAUs, which means nearly 3 billion people use Facebook at least once a month, and more than 2 billion people use it daily. In the U.S. alone, Facebook has 186 million MAUs, and 148 million people -- 80% of U.S. Facebook users -- are daily active users (DAUs).
The majority of Facebook users are between 18 and 34. However, Facebook is also popular with older adults. In the United States, 62% of adults 65 and older use Facebook. The average Facebook user spends about 33 minutes per day on the platform. The most Facebook users are in India, followed by the United States, Indonesia and Brazil.
Instagram's 2 billion MAUs average 30.1 minutes per day on the platform, according to Sprout Social. Approximately 70% of Instagram users are under 34 years old, according to SocialPilot. India boasts the most users, as reported by Statista, followed by the United States, Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey.
Twitter has 368 million MAUs worldwide, with a nearly 2-to-1 ratio of male (68.1%) to female (31.9%) users. The site is most popular among 25- to 34-year-olds, followed by 35- to 49-year-olds and 18- to 24-year-olds. The United States has the most Twitter users, followed by Japan, India, Brazil and Indonesia.
TikTok has more than 1 billion MAUs worldwide, and most are outside the United States. TikTok has the youngest user base of the platforms discussed here; 25% of TikTok users are between 10 and 19, and 47.4% of its users are under 30. TikTok's largest user base is in the U.S., followed by Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico. The Chinese version of TikTok -- Douyin -- is one of the most popular apps in the country with more than 750 million daily users.
In 2022, Snapchat had 464 million MAUs and, as of the second quarter of 2023, had 293 million DAUs. The majority of Snapchat users are between 18 and 24, according to Sprout Social. The five countries with the most Snapchat users are, in descending order, India, the United States, Pakistan, France and the United Kingdom.
As of March 2023, Twitch has 140 million MAUs and 31 million DAUs. In 2022, Twitch had an average of 2.58 million concurrent viewers. Twitch users watched 22.4 billion hours of content on the platform in 2022.
The majority of Twitch users are between the ages of 18 and 24, and 79.68% of its users are male.
Social media's strategic importance
With their millions of users, social media platforms remain a high priority for ad campaigns and marketing programs. In addition, with so many people from different backgrounds gathered in one place, the platforms themselves are fertile ground for marketing and consumer research.
The challenge then is to maximize benefit and gain, and that's done by successfully identifying who and where your audience is. Recognizing the different platforms and their diverse user bases, social media professionals can fashion a distinct strategy building on the following tactics:
- Identify your target audience. Ask yourself who you're trying to reach with your social media strategy. Know their location, age, gender and, of course, their interests. Once you know your target audience and their preferred platforms, you can start to create content that appeals to them.
- Define your goals. Be clear about what you want to achieve with your social media strategy. Is it to drive sales or brand awareness? Is it to generate leads? You can have a strategy without a goal.
- Create engaging content. People are inherently skeptical of advertising on the internet in general, not just on social media, so your content should be visually engaging and appealing. If your content is not engaging, people stop scrolling to read it.
- Be consistent. Social media is a long game. You need consistency in your efforts because people forget you easily. Persistence pays off in the form of awareness, so post high-quality content on a regular basis.
- Be social. Social media is a two-way street. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets enable viewers to respond to your advertisements with questions. Answer every one of them. It's the only way to build trust.
- Use social media analytics. All social media sites have extensive analytics to track progress and see how well your ad campaign is working and where it may miss its audience. Reports are generated all day, every day, so check your analytics regularly.
Check out these different types of marketing videos to reach your target audience.