Long-established social media networks are popular, but are no longer seeing significant growth. Two new polls, from Pew Research and Forrester, reveal that, even among adults, user engagement in newer services like Instagram is on the rise.

Facebook remains the most popular network by far, though the number of users who log in daily has not seen a significant change since 2012. According to the data, Twitter is slowly losing ground to Instagram and Pinterest, which both saw significant gains on the number of daily users. Instagram saw a 10-point increase in its daily users, pushing Twitter to the number three spot for most used social network.


LinkedIn is the one exception to the rule. The professional social network had a strong nine-point gain in daily users since 2014, and is the only social network with more users aged 30 and over than not. That means LinkedIn might not be getting new users, but those already online are becoming more involved.

Since 2012, none of the older networks have seen a noticeable rise in people who say they are “on” the platform. Pinterest and Instagram have seen particularly strong growth, while Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, all significantly older platforms, have had slow to no growth in the past three years.


The reason for this trend might be that younger generations are looking to other platforms. In an increasingly crowded market, social media companies need to target the next generation if they want new users, and platforms of the last generation are losing their appeal.

Facebook was found to be only the 7th “coolest” social media network among those aged 12 to 17. While 78% of teenagers do use Facebook, a poll conducted by Forrester’s found that only 65% of them found it “cool”, compared to YouTube (80%), Snapchat (79%) and Instagram (78%).


That might sound like bad news for Facebook, but the social network has made invested in newer platforms. The social media giant acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, and spent an incredible $22 billion on messaging service WhatsApp in 2014. With half of smartphone users aged 18 to 29 using messaging apps, combined with Instagram’s continued popularity with teenagers, both investments seem to be paying off. Facebook has also expanded beyond its traditional role as a platform for staying connected with friends and family. Both Millenials and members of Generation X in the United States use Facebook as their number one news source, more than any other service.


The networks in a nutshell


Founded in 2004, Facebook is undeniably the best known and statistically remains the most used social network. While it remains a popular application to update friends on your activities, the network has also become a significant news source. Women are slightly more likely to use Facebook, as are those under the age of 50.




Pinterest is a photo collection and sharing network which allows users to upload their own photos or “pin” others into various collections or “boards’ on the network. The website has seen slower but steady growth, and remains particularly popular among women.



Instagram allows users to take photos and alter them using numerous pre-installed filters before sharing them online. It has seen rapid growth since 2012 and remains particularly popular with teenagers and adults aged 18 to 29.



LinkedIn is a social network aimed at professionals, and in addition to updates allows users to create content such as articles. It is the only social network with an adult majority of over 30’s.



Twitter is a microblogging platform limiting user updates to 140 characters. Unlike Facebook, which uses a complex algorithm to show users content, Twitter updates chronologically though the company says it has experimented with doing away with this feature. Twitter has a steady and loyal, but largely unchanging user base.



Author: Donald Armbrecht is a freelance writer and social media manager.

Image: People are silhouetted as they pose with mobile devices in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic