From SnapChat to Instagram, the teens and young adults of Gen Z (born during the late 1990s to early 2010s) are growing up in an age that has never known life without access to Facebook. So what social media does Gen Z use? To get the first-hand anecdotal perspective of Gen Z users, we reached out to "experts" — teens close to our SBS team.
Let’s start by looking at the data - according to Pew Research, among people ages 18-29, 95% report that they use YouTube; 71% Instagram; 70% Facebook; 65% Snapchat; 48% TikTok; 42% Twitter; 32% Pinterest; and 31% LinkedIn.
What teens are telling us paints a slightly different picture.
Does Gen Z Use Facebook?
Interviewees Say: "Mostly an Older Crowd"
In 2006, Facebook announced that anyone over the age of 13 could sign up for an account on the platform. As someone who had joined a year earlier along with a bevy of late teen and college-aged students, I suddenly found myself flooded with requests from members of my family and friends who were 13-16 (as well as some cousins who had cleverly added 3-5 to years to their age to sign up for an account). At the time, having a Facebook account seemed special, almost unique.
Despite its continued popularity and broad reach -- the platform is used by 2.9 billion people globally -- Facebook has lost some of the sparkle that grabbed Millennials and Gen Y 15 years ago. When asked about their favorite platform, 16-year-old Ari was quick to explain:
“Facebook is for old people…. just Gen X and the occasional Boomer. No one my age uses it anymore."
Ari’s opinion on that platform was echoed by their colleagues of similar ages. Peyton, 18, explained that she only uses Facebook when wanting to connect with older people in her life. Sasha, 22, responded that she only uses it to keep up with family members.
Will this attitude against Facebook last? Quite possibly. However, it’s also important to remember that users in this stage of life likely want privacy to talk with their peers and explore their interests away from the eyes of parents and grandparents. They’re also not old enough yet to want to keep in touch with far-flung family and friends.
Does Gen Z Use TikTok?
Interviewees Say: "Dangerously Entertaining"
A number of those interviewed listed TikTok as their social media platform of choice. There was no strong consensus as to what made TikTok so much better than the other platforms for any reason beyond the entertainment value of it. Peyton explained TikTok’s appeal by saying
"It's not that good. It's because every other social media platform has fallen off and they’re bad. So, it's like, it's just the best you got, you know what I mean? It’s entertaining.”
Peyton is not alone in her feelings about the app. With over 1 billion users, people across multiple generations all over the world have dialed into TikTok’s entertainment value. (Although it is highest in popularity among teens and young adults in the US).
Does Gen Z Use Instagram?
Interviewees Say: "A Mixed Bag"
Statista recently shared that Instagram has more than 1 billion users currently, making it the 3rd most popular social media site in the world, trailing behind only Facebook (2.9 billion users) and Youtube (2+ billion users.)
However our Gen Z interviewees were mixed on that platform. Peyton called the platform boring because “nobody posts things.” Leah, 23, echoed the sentiment of Instagram not being a favorite platform because it is a “little fake." On the other hand, 23-year old Elise loves that she can post pictures and stories easily.
Does Gen Z Use Snapchat?
Interviewees Say: "It's Fun, But..."
The platform of SnapChat, which recently celebrated its 10th birthday, was met with mixed reactions from the Gen Z interviewees. Sasha shared how fun it is to communicate with others in a playful and unique way. Ari noted their dislike for the app, saying that “it's fun to post to stories, but a lot of random people can add you, and there's a lot of bots on the site that fill the inbox with fake accounts.”
Does Gen Z Use YouTube?
Forbes Says: Soothing Videos Popular Among Gen Z
Research suggests members of Gen Z utilize YouTube for numerous video needs, and one of the most popular types of usage is the interest in watching soothing videos. A 2022 Ipsos survey that reached out to thousands of Gen Z members showed that 83% of them regularly watch YouTube for soothing content. Some of the most popular examples of this type of content include videos of nature, destination films with soothing music in the background, or collections of “oddly satisfying” film clips. ASMR videos (aka “whisper videos”) continue to be among the most popular on YouTube even after several years of existence on the platform.
Gen Z Social Media Marketing
What About Emojis?
Changing preferences in the use of emojis, which first became popular in the 2010s, reflect a generational shift in how they are used among people of different ages.
Simply put: emojis can be read in numerous ways, some of which can be perceived negatively depending on the context surrounding them. A few emojis that have recently been questioned by some members of Gen Z in how they are used include the thumbs up, crying face, monkey covering eyes with hands, and clapping hands.
Reading More About Gen Z-Ers and Influencers
Thanks to our Gen Z interviewees for sharing their thoughts on social media platforms. If you are interested in learning more, check out:
Want to Learn More About the Various Social Media Platforms?
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