Every few years, Pew Research Center will check in and see how we’re behaving online. Today, Pew released its findings in a study by Maeve Duggan called “Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015.” Predictably, Facebook is still the social media standard bearer, with 62 percent of the entire adult American population using it. That number, however, is actually a plateau for Facebook, as other networks have begun to close the gap.
Among regular internet users, Facebook actually attracts 72 percent of the population. The 18-to-29-year-old demographic remains its largest, attracting 82 percent of internet users within that range. Additionally, 70 percent of Facebook users log in daily, including 43 percent who do so multiple times a day. The numbers look good, but Facebook had 67 percent of internet users in 2012 and 71 percent last year. It’s maintaining, not expanding.
While Facebook continued to dominate, Instagram has crept up as a legitimate rival to its parent company. At first glance, Instagram’s 28 percent of adult internet users pales in comparison to Facebook’s 72. (Pinterest even has a larger percentage of total adult internet users: 31.) Among the 18-29 demographic, however, Instagram boasts a 55 percent use rate. That trails Facebook’s 82 percent, of course, but is a full 18 percent more than Pinterest, its closest competitor in the range. It’s worth considering, too, that Pew’s numbers do not include minors, meaning the Facebook-Instagram gap could actually be smaller.
Pew’s data confirm trends that we likely see in our day-to-day lives online. Facebook, for many, is a given. You’ve had it for years, and you check it as a break from the internet’s more hectic offerings, maybe see how your high school buddies are doing, see who adopted a dog lately. The same people post constantly. Hardly anybody creates for Facebook specifically. There’s very little that’s new and exciting about Facebook that would push a large swath of new users to join.
Instagram, on the other hand, requires new content daily (if not hourly) and makes exploring past items easy with its simple, mobile-friendly interface. Someone’s two-week-old status update is irrelevant, but a 2013 burrito pic: never irrelevant.