Social Media Usage Statistics for 2021 Reveal Surprising Shifts

Social Media Usage Statistics for 2021

2021 social media usage statistics and research from my friends at Edison Research and Triton Digital, contained in the newest version of their annual  The Infinite Dial report, found surprising shifts in how Americans use social networks.

I strongly encourage you to download the entire free report, as there is a lot of more interesting information than what I’ve analyzed for you here.

Social Media Usage Research Report Cover

A note on methodology: this is not some quick poll that a marketer put together. Edison is one of the most respected research organizations in America. This a random sample survey of 1,507 people, with participants balanced to match USA gender, age, and race distribution. In short, this is data you can trust.

Let’s dive into these social media usage statistics and discuss what the research really means.

  • Social media usage increased slightly in 2021.
  • TikTok fueled social media usage growth among young people.
  • Facebook’s popularity continues to decline among young and middle-aged people.
  • Twitter regained influence.

Social Media Usage Increased in U.S., Driven by Pandemic

Approximately 233 million Americans use social media in 2021. This is a slight increase over 2020. Overall, however, social media usage is only slightly higher in 2021 than 5 years ago. Thus, it can reasonably be deduced that the overall pool of social media participants in the United States is unlikely to grow in the near term.

Social Media Usage Stat 2021 Chart

Social Media Usage: Total U.S. Population, from 2008 to 2021

The Rise of TikTok

Typically, when new social networks pop up, they are first adopted by youth, and then the composition of users becomes more reflective of America as a whole when older people start to log on to the “new thing.”

Before 2020, a lack of new social networks suggested that social media usage wasn’t growing even among young people.

Even now, among Americans 12-34 years old, Facebook usage declined from 79% of that group in 2017 to 57% today. Snapchat usage decreased from a previously stable 62% to 55%. Twitter is down from 36% to 34% and increased from last year at 29%. Both Pinterest and Linkedin are the same as they were in 2017 at 36% and 23% respectively, after recovering from a slight percentage drop in the last year or two.

A still steadily growing social network among young Americans is Instagram, up from 66% to 70% in the past two years.

The most shocking is the rise of TikTok. This social media platform first became popular in 2020 with about 25% usage and only continued to soar in 2021 up to 44% usage. This initial draw to TikTok could be due to a platform resemblance to the once-popular social media app Vine.

Social Media Brand Usage Chart for 2021

TikTok usage among those 12-34 nearly doubled from 2020 to 2021.


Facebook Usage Is Only Growing Among Those 55 and Older

While Facebook is the most popular social network, the only demographic that saw an increase in users was the 55 and older age group. Every other age group saw a decline.

Social Media Brand Usage

Facebook is still the most popular social network in the U.S.

Social Media Brand Usage Chart, 55 and Older

Social media usage is increasing for those 55 and older.

Twitter Regains Influence

In 2018, Twitter hit the lowest usage percentages across the board but since then, it has regained usage percentages. The popularity is equivalent or above the usages in 2016.

Social Media Brand Usage 2021 - All Ages

Snapchat Loses Users in Coveted 12-34 Age Group

Similar to Facebook, Snapchat saw a significant decrease in users in the 12-34 age group. With young people spending more time at home during the pandemic, entertaining content on TikTok drew in more users than the more communication-focused Snapchat.

Don’t forget to download the entire Infinite Dial 2021 report. There are more interesting findings on digital media today and how patterns are changing.


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