According to recent statistics for 2019, Facebook has a whopping 2.2 billion users, almost double as the runner up, Instagram, which has 1.3 billion users. Twitter is a close third, with 1 billion users, while LinkedIn and Snapchat come in on fourth and fifth place, respectively, with around 300 million users each.
Why such a significant difference? Well, Facebook seems to retain users’ attention for a longer period of time, or at least for longer stretches multiple times a day.
The average Facebook user in the U.S. spends as much as 58 minutes a day on Facebook, in several 10 to 12-minute increments, while Instagram users spend more than 24 or over 32, depending on age.
The gap also has to do with the fact that Facebook is an older and more established platform, having been around since 2004, compared to Instagram (2010).
The interesting thing is that Twitter only came two years later, but it was not able to amass the same number of users as the other two platforms. That can be attributed to the difference in format compared to Facebook or Instagram, which are primarily based on images, thus making them more visually attractive and increasing user retention.
Twitter is used to post short bits of texts with a limit of 280 characters (increased from 140 characters), so it’s better to use for headlines or “hook” users to click through to other sites for the rest of the information, which understandably shortens the time spent on the platform, as well as its popularity.
As for LinkedIn, it’s a networking platform that’s mostly utilitarian, and Snapchat is both newer and much “younger” in terms of style and content, so that explains the niche user base.
The vast differences can also be explained by the audience each platform attracts; more specifically, their age. Facebook tends to reach audiences of all ages somewhat equally, sitting at 5% to 9% for most age groups, with the most represented age group being 25-34 years old, with 13% percent.
Instagram, on the other hand, is much more heavily focused on a younger audience, with both the 18-24 and 25 to 34 age groups being represented with 31% and 32%, respectively. Even the 13-17 group has a 6.4% representation, while they’re much less present on Facebook, with only 2%.
The conclusions to be drawn are somewhat obvious – Facebook still holds a vast appeal to a wider range of the population, because it facilitates connection in all of its forms. Instagram is a much “younger” platform, and while that makes it very popular among its target audience, it also means it can alienate older audiences, who find it less user friendly or attractive.
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