Social Media Usage Snapshot: What Networks Matter to Average Users

It’s difficult to craft a modern marketing strategy without including social media.

People use these networks to engage with their friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, and random people they’ve never met.

For marketers, it’s a gold mine of conversations to join.

The problem is that there are dozens of social networks out there (hundreds if you count smaller niche sites), and most marketing teams don’t have the resources to be on every single one.

We took a snapshot of the general population — 200 random people — and asked them about where and how they spend their time on social media.

Our surveys covered six of the most popular networks of 2016: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Twitter.

When you’re trying to decide where to focus your social media efforts, these engagement metrics can help point you in the right direction.

The Most Popular Social Media Sites

Facebook has snagged 1.6 billion active users so far, with plans to access even more in the future. So it’s no surprise that a whopping 95.6% of our respondents reported having a Facebook account.

Slightly more surprising was how close it was for the second place finisher:

users with social accounts

Algorithm changes notwithstanding, Facebook continues to be the place to go if you’re looking for the largest potential audience. Regardless of the demographics you’re hoping to target, Facebook has them.

The issue, of course, is that just because someone has a Facebook account it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re interested in what a brand (or anyone in their network) has to say. As The Information reported in April of this year, Facebook is suffering from a 21% decline in “original sharing,” also known as unique personal updates.

Erin Griffith of Fortune surmises that the rise of marketing and other “professional content” has made, “all those inside jokes, blurry photos, and half-baked opinions you used to Post now feel out-of-place.”

Social Media that Gets the Most Engagement

Here again Facebook is a clear winner, according to our survey results:

how often users log into social networks

The high usage for Snapchat may be a sign that this emerging social network is one that marketers should be paying more attention to, as Matt Kapko recently reported on

Because its content is fleeting, users know there’s a time limit on all of Snapchat’s content. As a result, they login more and look at more than users on other networks.

In fact, CIO reports that Snapchat ties Facebook for video views, despite Facebook having an audience that’s ten times the size of Snapchat’s.

If you can produce video, and you’re after anybody under 35, Snapchat looks like a smart play.

What’s Stopping People from Logging In

So what’s going on with users of these networks who aren’t logging in very often?

For about a third of the social media audience, the content just isn’t compelling.

For others, there are just too many accounts vying for their attention. Here’s a look at the responses for each social network:

not interested in social media content

Given Facebook’s engagement issue that we addressed earlier, it’s pretty telling that over three quarters of users aren’t interested in what’s being shared there. Marketers, take note! If you want to stand out on Facebook, bring your “A” game.

Of course, there’s also the social media overload problem to contend with:

i have too many social media accounts

Pinterest and Snapchat seem to be suffering the most from being seen as non-essential. In a world of many profiles, people seem to value other social networks more highly.

User Perceptions of Social Media Content

Now that we know how many people aren’t logging in due to a lack of interest in the content, let’s take a look at the kind of content that those people THINK is shared on each of these six networks.

As marketers, we should use this data as a guide for what kind of content to share on these networks. We don’t want to contribute to the problem of people fleeing social networks due to poor content, after all.

Note: To get this type of insight we used the Segment option in our handy SurveyGizmo account. These next six charts are looking at only the responses from people who indicated that they don’t login very often because they don’t care for the content that’s shared on the various networks.

What’s Shared on Facebook

type of content shared on facebook

What’s Shared on Twitter

content shared on twitter

What’s Shared on LinkedIn

content shared on linkedin

What’s Shared on Pinterest

content shared on pinterest

What’s Shared on Snapchat

content shared on snapchat

What’s Shared on Instagram

type of content shared on instagram

What Social Media Networks REALLY Matter

Regardless of what we think gets shared on each network, which ones are an integral part of our day?

In other words, if they got switched off tomorrow, which networks would users mourn and fight for?

According to our results, this is the percentage of respondents who indicated each site is, “a crucial part of my day. I couldn’t do without it.”

social networks we can't live without

There may be a decline in original updates being posted to Facebook, but compared to other social networks, its user base is far and away the most dedicated.

We should once again acknowledge Snapchat, as the fledgling network has nearly as many devotees as the much more mature Twitter.

Using This Data to Guide Your Social Media Strategy

Keep in mind that this is what research folks would call “directional data.” It’s a basic overview from a general audience, and it’s designed to point you in the right direction.

Before you pour tons of time and effort into social media marketing, make sure you’ve done some further study of your target audience and their habits and preferences.

Survey panels are a great way to reach an audience segment with exactly the right demographics; I’d recommend doing your own analysis to validate any assumptions about your audience and what they want.

If you want to see our full suite of results, you can download them by completing the form below.


A note about methodology

These results were collected using SurveyGizmo’s Quick Audience feature. This allowed us to reach the general population at large. We asked approximately 200 random people the following questions:

  1. Do you have a [social network] account?
  2. How often do you login?
  3. Why don’t you login more often?
  4. What type of content do you think is usually shared on [social network]? (check all that apply)
  5. How would you rate your enjoyment of [social network]?

The same 200 people did not respond to each survey. Our total responses were as follows:

  • Twitter: 200
  • Snapchat: 719
  • Pinterest: 201
  • LinkedIn: 201
  • Instagram: 202
  • Facebook: 201

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Andrea Fryrear
About the Author:

Andrea Fryrear

Andrea loves to dissect marketing buzzwords and fads looking for the pearls of wisdom at their cores. Her favorite topic is agile marketing, which she believes holds the key to a more fulfilling (and less stressful) marketing career for individuals and a more powerful marketing department for business. When not scrutinizing the latest agile methodologies, Andrea can be found on the volleyball court, at the park with her two delightful kids, or baking “calorie-free” cookies. Connect with her on Twitter @AndreaFryrear, or on LinkedIn.

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  • Social Channels have to provide the option of Alternative text of images

  • Afryrear

    Very true! Thanks for sharing!