Do social media audiences age with the platform?

Understanding the age demographics of specific social media platforms can be tough. We take a look at whether social media audiences age with the platform.

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Understanding the demographics of users on specific social media networks is vital for ensuring your social media strategy is a success. If your target audience is aged between 30-49 you’re going to be wasting valuable time and resources using a platform that isn’t popular among that age group. So how do you work out which are the best social media platforms for your target audience?

There are tons of different articles and pieces of research online that cover the demographics of each social media platform, typically each one has slightly different results. For argument’s sake, I am going to use the most updated figures from Statista for each platform. See below for the most popular age group for each social media platform and the percentage share of the total user base for that age group:

N.B. All data is looking at global users, with the exception of TikTok where Statista only had US data. However, this data still provides a credible cross-section of the platform’s user-based.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular age group for most social platforms is between 25-34. This is likely due to the fact that this generation grew up during the rise of the internet. The World Wide Web became available to the public in 1991, just under 30 years ago, and ‘The Internet Age’ (an umbrella term for the 21st century) that we are currently living in started in 1995, making it 25 years old this year. Coincidence? No, both of these facts perfectly explain why the majority of social platforms are most popular with those aged between 25 and 34.

With those stats so readily available it should be easy for brands to highlight the platforms where their potential customers are… but it isn’t always quite so simple. After a short conversation in the office about trying to find a way to integrate TikTok into a client’s social media strategy, the debate about each platform’s demographic sparked into life. Off the back of this, the idea that the average age of each social media platforms users increases with the age of the platform was discussed, which is exactly what I’m going to cover below.

The idea behind this is that the newest platform typically has the youngest user base, for example, TikTok. Currently, TikTok is most popular with the younger generation, with the number of users dropping as you move up through the older segments . With that in mind, will the average age of TikTok’s users increase at the same rate that the app does?

When looking at the other social media platforms we highlighted earlier, the distributing users by age does support this idea. Personally, I feel that Facebook is a platform that is used more by the older generations, which would make sense as it is the oldest platform we have listed. When looking at a wider age distribution of Facebook users, the second most popular age group is 18-24-year-olds, however, in comparison to other platforms, it is more popular throughout the older age groups.

via statista.com

Like most social media platforms, Facebook requires users to be 13 years old to sign up. Facebook became open to everyone over the age of 13 with a valid email address in 2006, meaning users who adopted the platform initially would be around 27 years old today, which conveniently falls into the age ranges who use the platform the most.

The same can be said for Twitter, which was also launched in 2006. Again Twitter requires its users to be at least 13 years old, meaning those who were able to use the platform when it was first introduced would be roughly 27 years old today. Once again, this falls nicely into the age group that uses the platform the most today.

via statista.com

This idea is further supported when looking at the average age of Instagram users. The distribution of Instagram users by age is a much closer split compared to the other platforms. The most popular age group again is 25-34 (35%), however, this is closely followed by 18-24 (30%). Comparatively, these two age groups make up a significantly larger percentage of Instagram’s users based than when compared with Facebook and Twitter.

via statista.com

Again, looking at the age of earlier adopters who were old enough to use Instagram when it was introduced in 2010, they would be roughly 23 today, falling right on the cusp of the two age groups with the biggest user share.

Alternatively, looking at this from a different perspective, it’s interesting to see how few of the younger generations are using Instagram. Those aged between 13-17 would only be between 3 and 7 years old when Instagram was released, and since then we have had the release of the newest phenomenon… TikTok.

According to US statistics from Statista, TikTok is most popular with those ages between 10 and 19 years old, which is interesting as users need to be over 13 years old.

via statista.com

TikTok was only released in 2017, which would make those who used the app from launch between 15 and 16 years old. Again, this falls right in the middle of the age group who use the platform the most. It will be interesting to keep an eye on TikTok over the next few years to see whether it remains popular with the younger generation. Or as they age(20-29 years old), will the average age of the user based increase?

It’s hard to say for certain whether social media users age with the platforms as there isn’t a specific average age for each platform’s users, instead they are divided into age groups (e.g. 25-34). The fact that the more recent apps are popular with the younger generation certainly supports this thought. It will be interesting to see what age group the next ‘big’ platform is aimed at. Additionally, will we see the average age of each social media platform’s core user base increase as the platform ages, or will they try to diversify to attract a younger audience? This is something that we will have to wait to find out.

Is this something you agree with? Do you have reason to believe otherwise? We’d love to hear from you, leave a comment below or get in touch via our social channels.

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