5 Takeaways From Pew Research Center’s 2016 Social Media Update

Back in November, the Pew Research Center released its Social Media Update 2016 report and, yes, I am only now getting around to reading it and writing about it. Life happens.

The data published in the report is interesting, but not at all surprising. Here are five key takeaways I grabbed from the data so you don’t have to dig through it if you don’t want to:

1. 68% of ALL U.S. adults use Facebook.

This number is staggering. Approximately 79% of adults who use the Internet use Facebook, which almost seems low to me, but out of all American adults, 68% of them use Facebook.

To give you some perspective, the most watched television broadcast in the history of television was Super Bowl XLIX in February 2015. Approximately 114.4 million people watched that broadcast.

That means that approximately 36% of the United States population watched that Super Bowl.

Almost double the number of Americans who watched the most televised event in history are on Facebook, and 76% of those who use Facebook use it DAILY.

No social media platform is coming close to Facebook in terms of attention.

And, while other social media platforms may seem more popular among young people, don’t ignore the fact that 88% of adults aged 18-29 are on Facebook compared to…

2. 56% of 18-29-year-olds use auto-deleting apps (mostly Snapchat).

In their research, Pew asks about “auto-deleting apps” generally, because apparently apps other than Snapchat do this, so the “mostly Snapchat” parenthetical above is my conjecture.

This number was actually lower than I thought it would be. But, honestly, most Snapchat users are probably under the age of 18 and therefore not surveyed by Pew.

The prevalence of apps such as Snapchat is not new. Most young people who are using the internet are using apps such as these. Traditionally, many in the church have condemned such apps as automatically sinful, which is foolish, and as more and more people use Snapchat and other such applications, those who minister to young people ought to get schooled on them.

3. 59% of 18-29-year-olds use Instagram.

Like the “auto-deleting apps” number, I expected this number to be much higher. It is, honestly, quite shocking to me that 88% of 18-29-year-olds use Facebook and only 59% of that same group of people use Instagram.

As I navigate various social media platforms for work and in my own time, Instagram is overwhelmingly full of people in the 18-29 age bracket. I suppose, perhaps, that a higher percentage of them have Facebook accounts, but that more of them may be more active on Instagram on a daily basis. (The Pew data did not measure the daily activity of each age group on each social media platform.)

4. 36% of 18-29-year-olds use Twitter.

This number is low, and I figured it would be. Twitter is having some major issues. Not with people like me, though. I love Twitter and have virtually no complaints about it other than not having the ability to edit tweets.

The problem with Twitter is that unless you’re interested in keeping up with news or other fast-breaking issues like I am, Twitter is not as entertaining as Facebook or other such platforms.

Twitter is designed as a straightforward information vehicle, not as a means of entertaining its users. The platform has stayed away from algorithms like Facebook’s, and thus, does not tailor its content delivery like Facebook does.

I hope Twitter never changes its base functionality, but it may have to if it hopes to increase its user base.

5. Overall, Facebook is, and will continue to be, king of the social media world.

Look, Facebook the company owns the two most popular social media platforms being used today: Facebook and Instagram, and it almost bought Snapchat once! I mean, just look at this:

Facebook is not going away any time soon, and the longer it stays around, the deeper it weaves itself deeper into the culture in such a way that it may never go away. Facebook is so much more than a “social media” platform for internet hobbyists and people trying to hook up with other high school exes.

Facebook has created a culture of entertainment and media consumption like the world has never seen. Facebook’s number one goal is to make its users happy, and it is very good at doing just that. The echo chambers that destroy constructive discourse are the fuel that keep Facebook advancing like the behemoth it is.