2019 was a really interesting year for social media.

A lot of studies and surveys came out with surprising results, from Facebook and social media use in general declining to Instagram being the only popular social media platform on the rise in the United States.

I wanted to take you on a 2019 social media ride, so I’ve gathered some of the most fascinating data from last year. Hope you’ll enjoy!

These were the most comprehensive social media studies of 2019:

The Infinite Dial by Edison Research and Triton DigitalMarch 2019
The Social Habit by Edison ResearchMay 2019
Digital 2019: Q4 Global Digital Statshot by Kepios with We Are Social and HootsuiteOctober 2019

but I’ve also included data from some smaller ones at the end of the article.

Let’s take a look at what they had to say:

THE INFINITE DIAL & THE SOCIAL HABIT

The beginning of the year was marked by the 2019 Infinite Dial, an annual report by Edison Research and Triton Digital® that dates back to 1998 and covers the latest research on consumer usage of media and technology.

The 2019 edition was conducted on 1,500 Americans aged 12 and older who were randomly selected and interviewed by phone.

Due to some surprising findings, Edison Research then went on and conducted the Social Habit, which features data from the Infinite Dial, as well as national online surveys on 850 people over the age of 13 and in-depth in-person interviews with twelve social media users between the ages of 18 and 29.

Most Interesting Findings from Social Media Studies in 2019

Here is some of the most interesting stuff the surveys and interviews found:

1. More people have heard of popular social media channels than have access to the Internet

It’s hard to believe that not everyone has access to the Internet in 2020, but it’s true.

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 10% of U.S. adults do not use the Internet.

Yet, most people have heard of the most popular social media channels: Facebook (96%), Instagram (93%) and Twitter (92%), and 79% of Americans (223 million) say they are currently using social media.

2. Facebook is losing ground

If you’re not on Facebook, you don’t exist, right?

Well, turns out you can exist just fine.

Facebook has been losing massive ground in the past couple of years, with a drop from 67% users in 2017 to 61% in 2019. That’s an estimated 15 million fewer Facebook users in the U.S. today compared to 2017.

That’s crazy!

And Twitter seems to be following in its footsteps, with a drop from 23% users in 2017 to 21% in 2018 and 19% in 2019.

3. Instagram is the only social media channel on the rise

Instagram is growing from 34% users in 2017 to 39% in 2019, while Pinterest and Snapchat have stagnated at 31%.

The largest drop in Facebook users seems to be among younger people, with 82 million users aged 12 to 34 in 2017, and 65 million in 2019. It seems to have grown however in the 55+ age group, from 49% in 2018 to 53% in 2019.

But why are people leaving Facebook?

Well, the reasons vary based on age group.

The most common reason among those aged 13 to 34 is that they simply enjoy other social media platforms more, but also because their friends have mostly stopped posting and they want to avoid parents or relatives who are using the network.

Those aged over 35 seemed to be more concerned with the negativity spread on the platform and had concerns about privacy.

The young people interviewed face-to-face also expressed their discomfort with the attention seeking and toxicity they witness on the social media platform.

Surprisingly, the same people who have left the platform also experience the fear of missing out something important or interesting like an event or what someone wore, feeling compelled to stay on top of their social media game.

4. Instagram is the most popular among youngsters

As stated above, Instagram is the only social media site on the rise in 2019, and given that young people are the ones that dictate social media trends the most, it’s only natural that Instagram is their new favorite network.

It looks like they are gradually moving from Facebook to Instagram, with a 5% loss for Facebook and a 4% gain for Instagram from one year to the next. Snapchat is also very popular, but it remained consistent over the past three years.

5. LinkedIn is the winner in the 35-54 age group

Once you pass your first youth, it looks like you’re more interested in building your professional relationships than spending time on Instagram?

At least this is what the 2019 graphs show. LinkedIn has the highest composition of U.S. users between 35 and 54, followed by Pinterest and WhatsApp.  

6. Gender dictates social media preference

Tell me what your sex is and I’ll tell you what your favorite social media brand is!

While both males and females use all the popular social media brands and some are almost evenly split, there is a distinct female preference towards Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, and a distinct male preference towards LinkedIn and Twitter.

7. WhatsApp has the most ethnically balanced core user base

All the popular social media networks have users of different ethnicities, but WhatsApp differentiates itself by having a more even split between the groups, with 28% of users being white, 38% Hispanic, 7% African-American, and 27% of other ethnicity.

8. YouTube music usage has increased

More than 50% of Americans have reported using YouTube for music or music videos in the last week, showing a 4% increase since 2018 and a 17% increase since 2014, and a whopping 70% in the 12-34 age group are using YouTube specifically for music.

THE DIGITAL 2019: Q4 GLOBAL DIGITAL STATSHOT

The Digital 2019 Q4 Global Digital Statshot report was released in autumn by Kepios in collaboration with We Are Social and Hootsuite and it brought a whole new slew of interesting information to light:

9. There was a huge increase in Internet user numbers

2019 saw a 10% increase in the number of Internet users around the world, or to be more precise – 400 million more users than in 2018, according to the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies.

There are now 53.6% or 4.1 billion people using the Internet around the world.

Much of the growth has come from emerging economies in Africa, and if the trend continues, 2020 should see a whole new world of connectedness.

10. The number of social media users has grown globally

There has been an increase in social media users in the last quarter of 2019, with India being the main contributor in the last quarter of the year. 

With more than 250,000 new mobile Internet subscribers in India every day, social media still has a lot of place to grow.

WhatsApp announced it had over 400 million active users in India.

11. TikTok is unstoppable

Data from app intelligence company App Annie shows that TikTok continues to grow remarkably around the world, ranking on the sixth spot in terms of monthly active users through the third quarter of 2019, just behind Instagram. TikTok was also the most downloaded social media app in September.

12. Pinterest has won over the female population

With a 30% annual growth compared to the second quarter of 2018 and over 300 million monthly active users around the world, Pinterest can pop open the champagne.

Even more so knowing that it has global social media domination over the female population.

Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but the fact remains that 71% of Pinterest’s audience is female.

Which isn’t exactly news since we know females are more interested in this platform than men.

But when we put that into actual numbers, that’s where it becomes interesting. For instance, despite Instagram reaching six times more people in the United States overall, Pinterest can now reach almost as many women over the age of 30 as Instagram.

The platform is also very popular in Western Europe, with advertisers being able to reach 8.3 million in Germany compared to 9.9 million for Instagram, and similarly in France.

OTHER SMALLER STUDIES

In addition to the larger surveys and studies mentioned in the beginning of the article, I’ve gathered a few smaller ones, but still as fascinating. Here is the most intriguing information that I have found:

13. Social media users are tired of political posts

According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in June 2019, 46% of U.S. adults are worn out by the overwhelming amount of political posts and discussions they see on social media, while 38% say they don’t care one way or the other and only 15% say they actually like seeing political posts.

The number of people uncomfortable with the amount of political posts has increased by 9% since 2016, when this question was last asked by the Center.

Even though the majority of the demographic is more exhausted than excited by the amount of politics on social media, the whites seem to be much more so than the nonwhites (52% compared to 36%).

Two thirds of social media users say it is stressful and frustrating to talk about politics on social media with people who have different views and they discovered they had less in common politically with others than expected.

14. It would take a person 16 years to watch all the content posted on YouTube by the most popular channels in a single week

Yes, you read that right.

Pew Research Center conducted a large-scale analysis of the videos posted on YouTube by the most popular channels in the first week of 2019. A total of 43,770 channels with over 250,000 subscribers were discovered and these were the ones that were taken into consideration for the analysis.

Nearly a quarter million videos were produced by these channels in the first week of 2019, totaling 48,486 hours of content.

To put this into perspective, a single person would need to watch videos for 8 hours a day for more than 16 years to go through all this content. And that’s just the content produced in a single week by popular channels.

The amount and variety of content produced on YouTube is just insane!

And what’s even crazier is that only 17% of these videos were in English, which just goes to show what a global phenomenon YouTube truly is.

15. Ten percent of Twitter users are responsible for 80% of the tweets

Another survey by Pew Research Center conducted on 2,791 U.S. adult Twitter users showed that most users rarely tweet, and the most productive 10% actually create 80% of the tweets.

The average Twitter user typically tweets about twice a month, while a small percentage post a lot more regularly.

Another interesting thing to note is that a lot of these frequent tweeters are women (65%) who state they regularly tweet about politics.

The analysis also shows that most Twitter users are younger than the median age of an American adult (40 as opposed to 47), typically have higher incomes than the average population of America, are more educated and more likely to identify as Democrats.

They also typically express different opinions when it comes to issues regarding gender, race and immigration. They are more likely to agree that blacks are treated less fairly than whites, that women have it harder than men in society, and that immigrants are a strength for the U.S., as opposed to what the average American adult thinks.

16. The diffusion of misinformation on Facebook has decreased

Misinformation has been widespread on social media in recent years, especially towards the end of 2016, prior to the election.

Between January 2015 and July 2018, there have been 569 fake news websites and 9,540 fake news stories spread on Facebook and Twitter, as shown in this research article published by SAGE journals.

After the election, many of the adults who were exposed to the fake news said that they believed them to be true and many people believe these stories played a huge role in the election and in the political divisions that followed.

Since then, social media companies have taken measures to limit the spread of false information and Facebook seems to have somewhat succeeded. At least compared to Twitter.

Data show that interactions with fake news sites rose at a steady rate from the beginning of 2015 till after the election and then declined by more than half on Facebook, while continuing to rise on Twitter. The ratio of Facebook engagements to Twitter shares decreased from 45:1 to 15:1.

However, the level of misinformation spread is still high and Facebook still plays a significant role, with around 60 million engagements with fake news sites per month at the end of this study.

On that note, let’s hope 2020 is a better year for truth, positivity and compassion on social media! I hope you’ve enjoyed our 2019 social media brief and you check out some of our other Hot in Social Media News. Don’t forget to share if you’ve enjoyed!

See also: Video Marketing Trends in 2020