As we ease into 2016, maybe it’s prudent that we take a step back and survey the social media landscape. For once, it feels like the big giants — like Facebook and Twitter — are actually losing their momentum, and the whole industry feels like it’s shifting.
In other words, the social media landscape of 2016 is going to look much different than what we’ve seen up until now. Here are some interesting facts and statistics that show where we are today and where we might eventually end up.
1. Over 75% of all Internet users use social media. Social media sites used to be an auxiliary territory in Internetland, but it’s become clear that these kinds of sites are now the bread and butter of modern Web activity. They make up a sizable portion of all Web traffic.
And moving forward, we’re only going to see even more social media sites popping up. If you aren’t connected already, you’ll probably be hooked in come 2016.
2. For younger users, Instagram is more important than Facebook and Twitter. While Facebook and Twitter are still the reigning leaders, their mainstream status means that the younger generation considers them “old school”.
Indeed, Instagram is one the fastest growing social networks of 2015. According to eMarketer, there are over 77 million Instagram users in the U.S. alone and that figure is estimated to break 100 million by 2018, which means that 1 out of every 3 people in the U.S. would be using Instagram by that point.
And while Instagram might be the hippest site around, there’s evidence to suggest that its days may already be over as younger users start flocking to even newer social media outlets like Snapchat and Vine.
3. LinkedIn is the most important social network for professionals. The value of LinkedIn is proportional to where you are in your career path. It’s where you need to be if you want to build new business connections and relationships, and it’s been that way since 2002.
Not only that, but consider the fact that millionaires prefer LinkedIn over all social networks except Facebook. In a poll of 1,300 millionaires, at least 41% of them used LinkedIn regularly. Imagine what could happen if you struck up a connection with one of those millionaires.
4. Most social networks are evenly split between males and females… except Pinterest, which is used by 42% of females but only 13% of males. In comparison, Facebook is used by 77% vs. 66%, Instagram is used by 29% vs. 22%, Twitter is used by 21% vs. 24%, and LinkedIn is used by 27% vs. 28%.
For whatever reason, women love Pinterest while men despise it.
5. For the 18-49 age group, YouTube has greater reach than any cable network. This statistic actually first came to light back in 2013, but the truth is that YouTube’s popularity and reach has grown even more since then.
6. YouTube is massive, but Facebook is still bigger. Everyone knows that Google is the most-visited website in the world, but no one would blame you if you thought YouTube came in second. As popular as it is, it’s still outranked by Facebook.
The above-linked poll of Web users found that 77% use Facebook, 63% use YouTube, 25% use LinkedIn, 24% use Google Plus, and 21% use Twitter. In hard numbers, YouTube has a little over 1 billion monthly users while Facebook has over 1.5 billion monthly users. The difference is significant.
7. The largest online dating site is actually a social network: Badoo. OkCupid, Tinder, Adult FriendFinder, Ashley Madison — all of these sites have a higher public profile than the humble Badoo, but the truth is, Badoo has the largest membership base by a long shot.
There are many reasons that play into this, of course, but maybe it suggests that online dating is more successful when there’s a healthy amount of socialization involved. Anyway, if this came as a shock to you, check out these other surprising statistics about online dating.
8. Reddit is the best social network for large-scale communities. On its 10th anniversary, Reddit had just over 36 million user accounts spread across 850,000+ subreddits (i.e., individual communities) and approximately 10,000 of those subreddits had some activity yesterday.
9. Social media encourages the development of more extreme viewpoints. The beauty of social media is that it hands over a lot of control to the end user — but this control is a double-edged sword: it’s great for finding like-minded communities, but it demolishes the diversity of ideas.
It’s called the echo chamber effect (also the filter bubble effect) and it arises when social media users are allowed to “follow” things that they already believe and “block” anything that might dissent from those beliefs. The result is that ideas become amplified towards extremes.
10. Teens need to be made more aware of privacy and security issues. In general, people just aren’t very good about personal privacy and security, but teens are especially bad with it. Only 9% of teenaged social media users even have concerns about the privacy of their data.
The best thing to do is to follow these online safety tips used by the experts.
11. One wrong social media post can ruin your life for good. Whether it’s an edgy tweet that gets taken out of context (and riles up an online mob against you) or a badly-timed joke in poor taste (which lands you prison), one mistake could send your life spiraling in an unexpected direction.
It’s important to remember that social networks are public, and there are consequences for what you post — even if your intentions aren’t malicious!
12. Revenge porn and accidental leaks are growing threats. If you’re going to use social media in a sexual way, just remember this: the Internet never forgets. There’s a good chance that that racy photo of you will come back and bite you in the rear.
Even if you think something is private, you never know. After all, revenge porn is definitely a reality and many lives have been ruined by it. Don’t be naive enough to think that it could never happen to you.
Which Social Media Sites Do You Use?
There are so many social media sites out there today, some more niche than others. Which ones have peaked and then dived into obsolescence? Which ones are still relevant? How many social networks do you participate in? Do any of these statistics surprise you?
Share with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear what you think about social media, whether you love it or hate it.