Interpreting social media demographics

A white background highlights green and blue circles that illustrate the following percentages, detailed in green text, "Facebook continues to be America's most popular social platform with 68% of adults, while 28% use Instagram, 26% use Pinterest, 25% use LinkedIn, and 21% use Twitter."

Social media is an important tool in your marketing toolbox and we often discuss how to make use of it on our blog. What we don’t often cover is the not so sexy stuff like demographics, user base, and other platform data.
Understanding the audience within each platform is essential if you actually want to reach your target audience. If you just want to throw content out there and hope it sticks, then no need to read on.
The data below originates from Pew Research Center’s Social Media Update 2016 report. We have broken out the data by the big three: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We will tackle LinkedIn in another blog.
According to the study, Facebook continues to be America’s most popular social platform with 68% of adults, while 28% use Instagram, 26% use Pinterest, 25% use LinkedIn and 21% use Twitter. Do these stats surprise you?


Usage continues to rise with young and older adults. Shocker!

  • Eight-in-10 online Americans now use Facebook.
  • 62% of adults ages 65 and older (those online) are now utilizing the network.
  • Users are 83% female and 75% male

This offers some solid insight for your company’s marketing efforts. If you are selling a product that is focused on women, then Facebook is a great place to launch a series of ads targeted by age, location, interests etc. Also, contrary to what some sources say, young adults are still using Facebook and that number continues to rise.


Interestingly, Instagram has only grown 5% from 2015’s reported 27% of adults (online) utilizing the network. The audience is also predominantly female with 38% with the male audience coming in at 26%.

  • The largest age group is between 18-29 at 59% and 30 to 49 at 33%. Keep in mind this is six-in-ten of adults that are online.
  • Only 8% of adults over 65 are on the network.

If your audience is older, then clearly Instagram is not the right channel. If you dig a bit more into the data, the income figures are quite interesting. Instagram users, for the most part, have money to spend.


Twitter is somewhat the odd duck of social platforms, content can be easily lost, and many companies are at a loss on how to utilize the network. Usage has only grown by 1% up from 2015’s 23%.

  • No surprise here… Older adults do not feel compelled to engage. 36% of users are between 18-29.  This is a great opportunity for clothing brands.
  • 29% of users have college degrees, the network is considered popular among the highly educated.

The data is interesting and can be interpreted a few ways. If you are a recruiter, Twitter is a great network for you to reach qualified, educated and experienced candidates. If you are a university, you could target high school seniors or potentially those interested in a master’s degree.
We know we are total geeks but the data really fires us up. If you’re like us you’ll print it out and study it on the weekend and then write a blog about it…or maybe you have friends.

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