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U.S. Social Media Trends 2016

U.S. Social Media Trends of 2016

Special to Hudson Valley Public Relations by Thomas Hoerup, Intern SUNY New Paltz 


  • U.S. Social Networks by Unique Visitors
  • Social Media Use for Adults by Age Group
  • Teens and Social Media
  • Key Points

U.S. Social Networks by Unique Visitors

In the past few years, social media has been dominated by what is known as the Big Five. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram have been standing firm as the most visited networking sites. In the U.S. these Big Five continue to have a presence, but are beginning to be challenged by newer mediums. Snapchat is continuing to stay stable and grows from their 2015 statistics in total unique mobile visitors. Many media experts expected a drop off due to the app being mobile only (similarly to PokemonGo).

U.S. Social Networks by Unique Visitors (Total Unique Visitors in Millions)
Total Audience by Percent Reach

Facebook continues to be the powerhouse in every department, with LinkedIn growing to more in favor of mobile usage in comparison to 2015.  Twitter recently has added live, breaking news broadcasts having entered an agreement with the NFL and Bloomberg News. Notably, Facebook has continued to try to keep users in the site longer, with instant news articles, and limiting the organic visibility so that users see more of what they like.

Twitter continues to grow ad revenue, although they are only projected to grow 0.1% in share of ad revenue in recent reports. Twitter and LinkedIn are losing shares of ad revenue to Facebook.

US Social AD Revenue 2016

Social Media Use for Adults by Age Group

In 2016 Facebook remains the most used social media site, which is no surprise to many. What may be surprising to some is the acceptance of LinkedIn in the business community, whose audience now eclipses Twitter in terms of  total users. LinkedIn is also closing of the gap regarding reach to 18-24 year olds (seen below) where Twitter lead in both the past few years. Twitter appeals to thought leaders and may have reached a comfortable level for that audience, and it’s profit and ad revenue continue to improve. LinkedIn is now considered the platform for the business community, their ad revenue and profit also continue to improve. 

When split into age groups, Facebook Clearly has an advantage with users 35+. Instagram and Snapchat follow the projected trends of higher use by adults under 44. 

Unique Visitors by Social Network

Social Media Use for Adults by Age Group

According to the Pew Research Center, 65% of American adults use some form of social media (7% growth from 2005). Facebook again remains the choice of an older generation, and remains a dominant force in all categories. Snapchat is providing a new choice for the older crowd as well. Facebook News has clearly had an impact on lengthening the time unique visitors are on their site. It is an integral part of their structure and provide many with topics in which to use the platform for. Facebook is receiving complaints and facing blame in regards to their algorithms rewarding popularity in news sources, rather than relevance and factuality. Google is also facing this issue, but Google+ is likely to be unaffected because of the transparency and action of the Google team.

Social Media Users by Age Group

Social Media Usage by age group

Teens and Social Media

Teens provide a different side of social media. These are the users who use it at their core. Simple communication in a social form. Not surprisingly, as seen below, Snapchat and Facebook are competing for their attention. Snapchat has for the first time overtaken Facebook in a category. With 87.9% of all teens using some form of social media, this is an important market area. After being bought by Facebook in 2012, Instagram continued to rise in all areas. Facebook was able to regain Teen users because of the features that combined the platform with Instagram. Social media and its relationship to teens remains the same. Many teens use social media. The new development noted this year, is that more and more teens are using more than one site, as shown by the growth of some sites, but the tiny adjustment of total teen users.

Percent Teen Users by Channel past five years

Key Points

  • Facebook continues to dominate every age group, but really still focuses and draws in a crowd of adults over 45. Most of Facebook’s content is light and family oriented. 
  • Twitter has positioned their platform as the channel for breaking news, clearly focused on thought leaders. 
  • LinkedIn has become the platform for business now embraced by skeptical millennials who now embrace this channel. 
  • Facebook was able to regain Teen users over the past 5 years because of the features that combined the platform with Instagram. Snapchat may be supplanted by Instagram should Facebook continue to mirror many of Snapchats features. 
  • Teens favor sites with video-shareability and use multiple social channels more than any other age group.