Social media platforms continue to evolve and grow, and so do their respective user bases. That’s why it’s vital to keep up with the demographic and usage data for the platforms you use in your digital content strategy.

Growth rates, advertising reach, click-through rates (CTRs), and usage trends for each platform, both over time and in current data snapshots, can make a big difference in your marketing and paid ad campaigns.

Ultimately, your ROI for social media marketing depends on how hard you have to work for that engagement. After all, it’s easier to build an audience on social media if they’re already actively looking for content like yours on that specific platform.

So what is the state of social media for 2021? Here are the biggest data points to keep in mind as you plan your social media marketing activities for the rest of the year.

The state of social media in 2021: demographics

The state of social media in 2021: demographics

Over the last five years, the total number of social media users (i.e., those individuals who use at least one social media site to any extent) has remained relatively stable, from 69% in 2016 to 72% in 2021.


Broken down by age, there is significant generational variation:

  • 84% of those aged 18 to 29
  • 81% of 30 to 49-year-olds
  • 73% of 50 to 64-year-olds
  • 45% of those aged 65 and older

Users of YouTube and Facebook may outperform other platforms in terms of total users but if you’re building a younger audience, you’ll be more likely to find them on other sites. 71% of young adults aged 18 to 29 use Instagram, 65% use Snapchat, and about 50% use TikTok.

Approximately 78% of women and 66% of men use social media (bearing in mind that only “male” and “female” options were reported).


There’s much less variation between users at various income levels, with users at each of four levels hovering between 65% to 78%:

  • 69% of those making less than $30k per year
  • 76% of users making from $30k to $49k
  • 65% of those making $50k to $75k
  • 78% of those making over $75k


Likewise, there’s not much difference between users with varying educational backgrounds.

Both college graduates and those with some college are roughly equal at about 77%, while 64% of those with a high school education (or less) use social media.

Global usage

The total number of social media users globally is about 4.2 billion or slightly more than half of the world’s total population. This represents an increase of 490 million users year over year. An average of 1.3 million new users each day embraced some social media platform in 2020. All told, expect users to spend a combined 3.7 trillion hours on social media platforms in 2021.

Yet, these global statistics gloss over some significant differences from one country to another. For example, Filipinos spend a little over four hours a day on social media, while at the other end of the spectrum, Japanese users spend about 51 minutes per day.

They can also mask site-to-site differences, too. Not many marketers or creators would suspect that the behavior of middle-aged professionals on LinkedIn mirrors that of, say, college-aged young adults on TikTok.

The state of social media in 2021: usage by platform

The state of social media in 2021: usage by platform

Quick: What’s the most popular social media platform in the world? If you guessed Facebook, you’re in for a surprise.

Popularity of social media platforms

It’s actually YouTube, with 81% of the world using the site to some extent. Facebook comes in second at 69%, and from there, in descending order of usage:

  • Instagram: 40%
  • Pinterest: 31%
  • LinkedIn: 28%
  • Snapchat: 25%
  • WhatsApp and Twitter tied at 23%
  • TikTok: 21%
  • Reddit: 18%

But these metrics also include very occasional users, which isn’t so helpful when you’re trying to locate your audience on social channels for content promotion, marketing, or advertising purposes.

How devoted are each platform’s users?

What’s truly important when you’re trying to pinpoint and locate your audience and track the social media marketing metrics that are meaningful to your brand is a different question: How dedicated are each platform’s users?

According to that same Pew survey, 70% of all responding Facebook users are daily users, 17% are weekly users and roughly 12% use the site less than once a week. By contrast, Twitter users have the lowest percentage of daily users at 46%, weekly at 29% and less than weekly at 16%. About half of Snapchat and Instagram users are daily users of each site, while 54% of YouTube users visit the site every day.

Which platforms are growing?

YouTube and Reddit were the only sites covered by the Pew 2021 survey that saw any significant growth over the last two years. In fact, with those two exceptions, most social media platforms have grown very little since 2019 and through the pandemic, or even earlier. Facebook, for example, has been stagnant at around 69% since 2016.


YouTube is a powerhouse for social media marketers and content creators. Statistics suggest over two billion logged-in users, but that number is low since users watch videos on the site without being logged in.

YouTube has a truly global audience, with users in over 100 countries. The site is especially popular with young users under the age of 35.

And if your audience consists of even younger kids, YouTube is a strategic choice for your brand. 80% of parents in the U.S. say their children 11 and younger also consume YouTube content daily. Most other social media sites require users to be at least 13 years or older.

As a whole, YouTube users watch over a billion hours of video every day, with most adult users spending just under 42 minutes a day on the site. Businesses are paying attention, too; 62% of businesses used YouTube for content marketing, advertising or some mix of both.

Creators who build active subscriber-based channels are earning substantially more revenue than in years past. The total number of channels earning at least $10,000 annually increased by 50%, while the number of channels earning at least $100,000 jumped by 40%.


Pew’s most recent survey reveals quite a bit about the vast audience of Facebook users and how they interact with the site and the brands they find there. On average, Facebook users spend about 34 minutes per user session. Second, only to YouTube in the numbers of visits, it’s also the third most visited site overall (behind Google and YouTube).

And what kind of content do Facebook users prefer? As measured by engagement levels, it’s video, even though video only represents about 3% of all Facebook content.


The Facebook-owned and U.S.-based messaging and VOIP service is a growing powerhouse. Its user base clocks in at an impressive 2 billion. That number has increased by approximately 500 million every year since 2019. It was the fourth most downloaded app in April 2021.


The most popular social media site in China, WeChat has 1.17 billion users worldwide and is the fifth most popular social networking app in the world.


At 1.074 billion global users, an increase of over 73 million in the last year, Instagram has seen some impressive pandemic growth. It’s an especially strong growth rate among young adult users; a full 71% of those 1+ billion users are under the age of 35. As of April 2021, it was the third most downloaded app overall.


No longer the exclusive province of high school students showing off their latest dance moves, this China-based video-creation/editing/sharing app is growing globally and enjoys 689 million users worldwide. It’s one of the fastest-growing social media apps and was the top-downloaded app as of April 2021.


With over 478 million active monthly users, the long-reigning queen of image curation and collection is still quite popular, especially among women who make up 60% of its userbase. 95% of Pinterest searches are unbranded, giving users the option to try out new ideas.


Snapchat has approximately 265 million daily active users worldwide. It’s the sixth most downloaded app as of April 2021. Snapchat said users open an average of 30 snaps per day and an average of 4 billion snaps are sent on the platform each day.


This message board app has gotten a bit of a glow-up in recent years. With 430 million users, it’s more popular in the U.S. than in other countries. Time spent on the site per visit is over 10 mins. According to Business of Apps findings, there are over 2.2 million subreddits, 130,000 of which are considered active communities.


The professional networking site reports 766 million total users, with about 310 million of those being active monthly users. Only 3% of users post more than once a week, however, users are more active in applying for jobs.


The micro-blogging and messaging site boasts 192 million active daily users, who trend 70% male.

Marketing and advertising on social media

Marketing and advertising on social media

Paid social media ads continue to make up important segments of the overall marketing plan for many brands. Overall, 83% of B2B marketers use social media advertising on one or more platforms. Those marketers ranked paid ads on social media second only to SEM in terms of successful campaigns (29% to 33%, respectively).

Social media advertising CTRs from 2020 range from 0.22% for both Instagram and LinkedIn to 0.86% for Twitter and 1.11% for Facebook. All CTRs for Q1 in 2020 trended downwards. In Twitter’s case, that CTR drop was a fairly sharp 61% drop over 2019 figures.

Ads on Facebook

Given its demographically and geographically broad user base, it’s no surprise that Facebook dominates as a social media ad platform.

The average Facebook user will engage with 12 ads on the site each month. Women outpace men here 15 to 10. Facebook referrals also count for over 80% of all social media-originated trips to e-commerce sites. Over 200 million small businesses are active on the site using its various services such as Groups, Pages, Messenger and chat bots.

The breadth of those features, coupled with the access to millions of people and the site’s incredibly robust targeting options for its advertising platforms, makes Facebook the most popular social media network for marketing professionals. Over 87% of all U.S. marketers say they incorporate the site into their marketing efforts. Moreover, nine million brands and companies use the platform’s advertising platform.

Make sure your content is optimized for mobile if you want to include a significant Facebook ad campaign into the mix. Almost 90% of users access the site using a smartphone or other mobile device. On average, those mobile users will spend almost a full hour per day on Facebook, giving you lots of opportunities to grab their attention.

Use these statistics to create a targeted social media strategy

To make the most of your social media marketing plans, first know your targeted audience. Then, take a closer look at each platform’s usage and demographic stats to find out where your audience is already active.