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Table of Contents

Twitter vs. Facebook vs. Instagram: What's the Difference?

Twitter vs. Facebook vs. Instagram: An Overview

Social media helps billions of people worldwide stay connected. Facebook, Twitter (TWTR), and Instagram (which is owned by Meta, formerly Facebook) are among the most successful social media brands. The three sites appeal to different demographics. Facebook has broad appeal across ages. Instagram users tend to be younger, and Twitter is favored by affluent college graduates.

Key Takeaways

  • Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all popular social media platforms used by people around the globe.
  • Each appeals to slightly different types of users and offers unique services or features.
  • Facebook has a broad appeal: 68% of adult Americans report using the platform.
  • Twitter users are more likely to be college graduates, affluent, and live in a city.
  • Instagram users tend to be young. About 1 billion users check in with Instagram monthly.


Facebook

There are nearly 8 billion people on the planet, and 2.9 billion of them use Facebook at least once per month. With nearly a third of the world's population connected over a single social network, it's worth asking: who isn't Facebook's target market?

To say that everyone is its target market is not an understatement. Facebook had 248 million monthly active users in the United States and Canada at the end of 2019. About 68% of all U.S. adults have an account. There are some slight differences when digging into the demographics.

For example, 74% of adult women are Facebook users, compared with just 62% of all adult men. And the platform, as is all social media, is more popular with younger adults. Roughly 80% of 18- to 49-year-olds have an account. But older Americans are still represented. In the 50 to 64 age group, 65% are on Facebook, as are 41% of those 65 and older.

Nearly one-third of the world's population is now connected over Facebook.

Demographics of Users

Facebook users are not distinguished by their ethnic background. However, high school graduates are less likely to use the platform compared to college graduates, as are those living in rural parts of America. But for the most part, almost everyone who uses social media as a means of connection uses Facebook.

This is perhaps why Facebook's (now Meta) initial public offering (IPO) was one of the most anticipated in financial history. It went public in May 2012 at a valuation of $104 billion, which was the third-largest IPO in the U.S. at the time. Facebook makes money primarily through targeted digital advertising. It reported $70.7 billion in revenue in 2019, up significantly from $55.84 billion the year before. However, earnings fell to $18.48 billion compared with $22.11 billion previously, as costs and expenses rose.

Founder, chair, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the largest shareholder. He held 12.17 million Class A shares and 365.72 million Class B shares as of April 2019. This gave him 53% voting power over the company.

Facebook made two significant acquisitions following its public debut. It bought Instagram in 2012, paying roughly $1 billion in cash and stock. Facebook acquired messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, which appreciated to $22 billion in value thanks to a rise in Facebook's shares.

Twitter

Before being banned, followers could keep up with former President Donald Trump via Twitter. The micro-blogging service gave Trump direct access to the 31 million daily active users in America who are on the platform. He had nearly 88 million followers as of Jan. 8, 2021, when he was banned.

About 24% of adult Americans say they have a Twitter account. Men and women represent Twitter users nearly equally. Like with Facebook, users skew younger, especially among 18- to 24-year-olds. In this age group, 45% report they use Twitter. This compares to 33% for the 25 to 29 age group, 27% for the 30 to 49 age group, and 19% for the 50 to 64 age group. High school graduates are less likely to use Twitter compared to college graduates. Its users also tend to be more affluent and live in a city.

Twitter went public in November 2013 and achieved a valuation of $25 billion on its first trading day. It reported $3.46 billion in revenue in 2019, up from $3.04 billion the previous year. The bulk of revenue came from promoted tweets, while data licensing accounted for the remainder. Jack Dorsey, who is a co-founder, CEO, and company director, holds 18 million shares, or 2.34% of the company.

Instagram

Young people cannot seem to survive without Instagram. The social network for photo and video sharing is especially popular among 18- to 24-year-olds. In this age group, 71% say they have an Instagram account. Usage drops off significantly for older Americans. In the 25 to 29 age group, just 54% have an account. Only 40% of Americans in the 30-49 age group report using Instagram, and the figure is 21% for those 50 to 64 years old.

71%

The percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds who report using Instagram.

Meta says 1 billion users are active on Facebook every month, and 500 million use Instagram every day. About 47% of users also report using Instagram. More women than men say they have an account: 39% to 30%. Users are typically college-educated, urban, and more affluent.

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion. The purchase was met with skepticism because the photo-sharing site was just two years old and didn't have any significant revenue at the time. But that changed. In 2018, Bloomberg analysts estimated the platform was worth $100 billion, with revenue surpassing $10 billion. Because Instagram is an app, it has helped Meta shift from web browsers to mobile devices.

Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Census Bureau. "Demographic Overview - World."

  2. Facebook. "2019 Form 10-K," Page 44.

  3. Facebook. "2019 Annual Report," Page 46.

  4. Pew Research Center. "Social Media use in 2018: Appendix A: Detailed Table."

  5. Reuters. "Historic Facebook debut falls flat."

  6. Facebook. "2019 Annual Report," Page 42.

  7. Facebook. "2019 DEF 14A Proxy Statement," Page 41.

  8. Facebook. "Form 10-Q: September 30, 2012."

  9. Facebook. "Form 8-K: February 19, 2014."

  10. Reuters. "Facebook's WhatsApp acquisition now has price tag of $22 billion."

  11. Twitter. "Selected Company Metrics and Financials," Page 1.

  12. Twitter. "Permanent Suspension of @realDonaldTrump."

  13. Reuters. "Twitter shares soar in frenzied NYSE debut."

  14. Twitter. "Proxy Statement 2019," Page 69.

  15. Facebook. "Tell your brand story your way with Instagram."

  16. Pew Research Center. "Social Media use in 2018: Substantial ‘reciprocity’ across major social media platforms."

  17. Reuters. "Facebook to buy Instagram for $1 billion."

  18. Bloomberg. "Instagram Is Estimated to Be Worth More than $100 Billion."

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