With more social media platforms than ever before to choose from, brands are faced with a tough question: which ones are right for me? Rather than employ the “spray and pray” method, identifying which social media platforms your customers use is an effective way to connect with your target audience where they’re at. According to the latest Sprout Social Index™, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are the top social media platforms consumers will use in the next 12 months.
In the eyes of the consumer, all social platforms are not created equal. Their social platform preferences vary based on factors like age and interest—and even then there’s no guarantee the platform of their choice is where they like to engage with brands.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. From the rise of short-form video to the evolution of social messaging apps in the customer experience, the digital landscape is changing. Keeping up with platforms, new and old, is crucial if you want to attract new fans, and connect with current ones. In this article, we’ll share the need-to-know stats—including our research from the Sprout Social Index™—and insights about some of the most popular social media platforms to help you determine which ones to prioritize in your strategy.
15+ of the top social media platforms to boost your strategy
- Google My Business
- Platform to Watch: BeReal
- Monthly global active users: Nearly three billion
- US users: Over 179 million
- Average time spent per day (US): 30 minutes
- Largest age group: 25-34 year olds
- Who should use it: Brick and mortar small businesses (think: local events and reviews) and nonprofits (think: fundraisers) are two industries that stand out on Facebook. It’s also useful for creating different interest groups, customer service and social advertising.
Why you should be on Facebook
Reigning as the most popular social platform by monthly active users worldwide, Facebook is one network businesses can’t afford to ignore in their digital strategy. According to the Sprout Social Index™, 71% of consumers and 65% of marketers plan on using this platform the most in the next year.
For brands looking to increase their reach and grow their business, there’s a good chance their next customer is on Facebook. Paid social ads reach those customers—in fact, more than a quarter of all digital ad spending goes towards Facebook.
Facebook messaging and reviews are also crucial customer service and social media tools. Considering 60% of consumers say they use Facebook the most for customer service, it’s a key platform to meet your customers where they’re at. Adding a Facebook chatbot through a tool like Sprout Social can boost your conversational social messaging and responsiveness.
- Monthly global unique active users: Over two billion
- US users: Over 68.1 million
- Average time spent per day: 28 minutes
- Largest age group: 26-35 year olds
- Who should use it: Direct-to-consumer brands like retailers or even financial services can benefit from offering customer service to an international audience.
Why you should be on WhatsApp
WhatsApp is the most popular global messaging app. For brands, WhatsApp presents an opportunity to personally connect with customers all over the world, providing timely support and real-time business updates. And making personalized interactions easier matters—70% of people say they expect conversational experiences with brands on social, and 60% of brands say DM-ing plays a role in their customer care strategy. With a tool like Sprout, marketers can efficiently manage their WhatsApp DMs alongside all other social media messages to ensure no customer gets left behind.
If you’re wondering how to use Whatsapp for business, there are many options; from standard customer care to creative marketing. For example, Dior recently launched a campaign using Whatsapp to host exclusive conversations with global influencer, Jisoo.
— L 🤍 (@effxrpink) May 7, 2022
Why you should be on TikTok
Known for less-polished, meme-y short videos, TikTok dominates as one of the platforms US consumers spend the most time on, and it’s no longer the new kid on the block. With 38% of consumers expecting it to be one of the platforms they use the most this year, it’s time to give TikTok marketing a try.
Showing up with authentic content on TikTok can build trust with consumers on the platform—73% of users feel a deeper connection to brands they interact with on TikTok vs other platforms. Considering nearly half of users say TikTok helped them make purchase decisions, that trust can go a long way.
TikTok trends can inspire other social content—on the app or on other platforms—and help marketers understand what topics are relevant to younger consumers. And while TikTok remains a core platform to reach Gen Z, the app has aged up, making it possible to reach a more cross-generational audience, too.
Monthly global active users: Over two billion
US users: Over 159 million
Average time spent per day (in the US): 30 minutes
Largest age group: 25-34 year olds
Who should use it: Travel, beauty, fashion and health/fitness tend to do well on Instagram. If your brand is all-in on influencer marketing, posting user-generated content and using short-form video, Instagram is crucial.
Why you should be on Instagram
Instagram is one of the most widely used platforms among US adults, and 49% of consumers expect it to be the platform they use most this year. As the preference for short-form video increases, brands need to invest in platforms like Instagram where this content is king. Instagram is also a key place to tap for influencer or creator collaborations—which is especially impactful for Gen Z and Millennial audiences.
The ease of Instagram shopping has also made the platform a shopping hub. With 70% of shoppers looking to the platform for their next purchase, leveraging this feature can help you connect with customers while making sales. Consumers are also sliding into DMs with questions and feedback, making Instagram a valuable component of your customer service.
- Monthly global active users: Over two billion
- US users: 240 million
- Average time spent per day (in the US): 45.6 minutes
- Largest age group: 15-35 year olds
- Who should use it: The industries with the strongest influencer media value on YouTube are tech, gaming, food and beverage, beauty and fashion. And as the second largest search engine in the world, YouTube content can expand your reach beyond the platform.
Why you should be on YouTube
YouTube is an ideal platform for brands looking to reach and engage with their audience—both in-platform and in Google search. With the addition of YouTube Shorts, the platform has kept up with the times by adding a short-form video feed—a format consumers find 2.5 times more engaging than long-form.
Of all the social platforms, YouTube is where people spend the most average time per day, second only behind TikTok. In fact, while 51% of consumers plan on YouTube being one of their top-used platforms this year, only 35% of marketers say the same. Entertainment is a content factor, but you can also feature products in visually-appealing ways. Chipotle uses their channel for short films and celebrity features, but they also feature simple videos highlighting new dishes.
Why you should be on Twitch
According to the 2022 Sprout Social Index™, 37% of consumers think live video is the most engaging type of content. Though Twitch is often associated with gaming, it’s quickly becoming the go-to platform for all things live-streaming. At any given time there are millions of active streamers on Twitch, making it an ideal platform for brands looking to target younger audiences like Millennials and Gen Z through live video. HelloFresh, for example, recently started a six-episode series of cooking challenges on Twitch called “Unleash the Feast,” where streamers could watch, participate by commenting, win prizes and more.
Why you should be on Pinterest
Pinterest is great for spotting emerging trends and targeting niche audiences. It’s also consumers’ go-to platform for inspiration and finding new brands—97% of top Pinterest searches are unbranded, and 85% of users go to start a project, like planning for a wedding or a birthday. And while the majority of their user base skews older, Gen Z users are growing on the platform.
Check out how Whole Foods uses Pinterest for posts that are inspiring, visually-appealing and plug their products in a natural way.
- Monetizable daily active users: 237 million
- US users: 76.9 million
- Average time spent per day: 34.8 minutes
- Largest age group: 18-29 year olds
- Who should use it: The jewelry industry gets the most engagement on Twitter, as does fast-moving consumer goods, food, beverages and home. But higher education is an industry that can uniquely benefit from Twitter by creating different channels for the variety of sports teams, areas of study and communities they cater to.
Why you should be on Twitter
Twitter is one of the top social media platforms for brands keeping up with the latest trends and conversations that their target audience cares about. One of Twitter’s newer features, Twitter Spaces, makes it possible to have live conversations with your audience that you can promote beforehand, and Tweet out later.
Twitter also enables brands to receive direct audience feedback and questions. And being responsive can build your brand’s image—Twitter customer care interactions lead to a 58% better attitude towards brands. This makes the platform a powerful place to collect consumer insights on how to improve products, services or social content.
- Members worldwide: 830 million
- US users: 190 million
- Average time spent per day: 34.8 minutes
- Largest age group: 25-34
- Who should use it: Almost every business can benefit, but some of the top industries they highlight in a recent report are tech & information, finance, healthcare, media & entertainment, marketing & advertising, travel and hospitality, retail, consumer goods and real estate.
Why you should be on LinkedIn
While LinkedIn is often associated with B2B marketing, there are plenty of reasons why brands should consider developing their LinkedIn strategy. As the world’s largest professional network, it’s one of the best social media platforms for business and for lead generation; brands are able to hyper-target their professional audience using rich demographic data and interest-based filtering. It’s also home to job seekers and investors, making LinkedIn a valuable resource for recruiting and establishing your employer branding strategy to differentiate from your competitors.
- Members worldwide: 430 million
- US users: 221.19 million
- Average time spent per day: 34 minutes
- Largest age group in the US: 20-29
- Who should use it: Reddit is a great place to build community or join specific conversations. Some of the most popular Reddit topics of 2021 were cryptocurrency, gaming, sports, weddings, health and fitness, food and drink and movies and TV.
Why you should be on Reddit
Reddit is one of the most trafficked social media sites, with billions of visits per month and over 100,000 interest-based communities. It’s a platform known for promoting authentic connection, where Redditors specifically look for and join conversations they can trust. Reddit is home to engaged communities filled with people who share all kinds of interests. Even if you don’t join the conversation, listening to what Redditors are saying leads to valuable insights that you can use to improve your brand’s product and services.
11. Google My Business
- When looking for contact info, 64% of consumers look for a business’ Google My Business page.
Why you should be on Google My Business
While not a traditional social media app, Google My Business is an equally important platform because of the role reviews play in the buyer journey. Google reigns supreme as consumers’ favorite review site—63.6% of consumers say they’re likely to check Google reviews to research a business.
Platforms like Google My Business make it easy for you to respond to customer reviews as they come in, and quickly address inaccuracies or misinformation. The ability to monitor feedback directly in Google My Business helps you strengthen your brand’s online reputation while providing customers the context they need to make informed decisions.
Why you should be on Yelp
An online review management strategy is a must-have for any brand that wants happy customers and a shot at cultivating brand advocacy. Yelp is especially beneficial for businesses in industries like food and beverage, local services, nightlife and entertainment. The reviews on Yelp go a long way in influencing customer sentiment toward a brand—both positive and negative. And though no one likes to be criticized, negative reviews can help businesses identify areas for improvement and double down on their strengths. Plus, responsiveness helps—45% of consumers say they’re more likely to visit businesses when they respond to bad reviews.
Why you should be on Tumblr
Creativity never runs dry on Tumblr, where there are over 518.7 million blogs publishing 12.8 million posts per day. Tumblr gives brands an opportunity to flex their creative muscle with a variety of content formats from text posts to photos to videos and even audio content. It also gives brands the power to reach their intended audience, targeting users based on demographic information like location and interest. What’s more—Tumblr’s popularity is on the rise with the younger generation. Gen-Z makes up a whopping 48% of the microblogging site’s audience.
One of the more recent big brand moves on Tumblr was made by Disney+ to promote the show, Loki. Capitalizing on the fandom communities Tumblr is known for, they created the “Tomblr” page where star of the show, Tom Hiddleston, took the wheel to answer fan questions.
- Average monthly unique visitors: 463 million
- Total reviews: Over one billion
- Traffic from the US: 68% of all traffic in May 2022
- Who should use it: If you’re in the tourism industry, from accommodation and transportation to destination experiences, Tripadvisor is a crucial platform to be on.
Why you should be on Tripadvisor
For travel and hospitality brands, few review sites are more important than Tripadvisor. It’s one of the most popular travel review websites in the US, and about 12% of bookings for hotels or private accommodations by US consumers are done through Tripadvisor. In other words, the review site represents the last chance a business has to convince travelers to choose their services over a competitor.
When brands maintain their Tripadvisor profile, they’re better positioned to provide travelers the details they need to make informed decisions. And as travel continues to climb—and face challenges—now is the time for brands to revisit and revive their Tripadvisor strategy.
- Daily active users: 300+ million (as of Q1 2022)
- US users: 87.3 million
- Average time spent per day: 30 minutes
- Largest age group: 15-25 year olds
- Who should use it: Businesses that hold in-person events or experiences can benefit from using customized geofilters or AR effects on Snapchat.
Why you should be on Snapchat (H3)
While it may not have a flashy, “billion-with-a-B” active users like other apps do, Snapchat can be a beneficial platform if your audience is mainly Gen Z. And with daily active users increasing by 18% year over year, the platform’s popularity isn’t fizzling out with younger crowds.
Snapchat has also leaned into augmented reality beyond filters by offering easy AR shopping. Considering that 92% of Gen Z is interested in AR shopping experiences, Snapchat could be a powerful platform to amplify your products to this audience. While 19% of consumers say Snapchat will be one of the platforms they use the most this year, only 9% of marketers say the same. Which points to a gap that your brand could fill.
- Monthly active users: Over one billion—mostly communities speaking Chinese languages
- US users: 1.48 million
- Average time spent per day: 82 minutes
- Largest age group: 22% of users in China are between 31 and 40. Another 22.7% are 51+
- Who should use it: Brands with an international presence and target audiences who speak Chinese languages.
Why you should be on WeChat
Part messaging app, part payment app, part lifestyle platform, WeChat’s social commerce integrations and high message capacity have made it an element of everyday life for users—especially those in China. On the social connection side, WeChat users send more than 45 billion messages every day. And on the financial side, WeChat is a leader of mobile payments in China. Users are able to do everything from booking and paying for medical appointments, to reserving taxis and tables at restaurants. WeChat’s many app integrations make it easy to follow Official Accounts—basically, business profiles. In fact, nearly 50% of users follow 10-20 Official Accounts.
If a significant portion of your audience is in China or speaks Chinese languages—including Chinese tourists who are driving adoption of WeChat around the world—WeChat is a prime platform to connect with them.
17. Platform to watch: BeReal
- Total global installs: 10.7 million
- Monthly visits: Over five million
- Largest age group: Gen Z
- Who should use it: That has yet to be determined. But if you want to experiment with authentic content and get in on the ground floor of a new platform, start experimenting on BeReal.
Why you should keep an eye on BeReal (H3)
BeReal is one of the new social media platforms quickly gaining attention. Known as the “anti-Instagram,” the goal of BeReal is to feature more authentic content with zero polish. The app offers you just a two-minute window each day to post, during which you’ll take and publish an unedited photo that features both a front-facing and back-facing view.
The platform saw a 390% increase in downloads in Q1 of this year vs Q4 of 2021. But it’s still early stages, leaning more into human connections than brand accounts and, on top of that, prohibits advertising. Yet, Chipotle is a stand-out brand that has found creative—and lucrative—ways to use it, even with a tiny following compared to their other channels.
Which social media platforms are your audience members on?
To build customer relationships that last, you first need to identify where your audience lives online. But knowing which social media platforms your customers frequent is only half the battle. You also need to understand what makes each social media site tick and the rules of engagement.
To effectively set benchmarks for yourself on various social media platforms, check out our social media benchmarks by industry resource for the data and insights you need to inform your social strategy today.