Twitter vs. Facebook vs. Instagram: An Overview

Social media helps billions of people worldwide stay connected, and Facebook, Inc. (FB), Twitter, Inc. (TWTR) and Instagram, owned by Facebook, are among the most successful social-media brands. Each of the three sites appeals to different demographics.

With over 1 billion users worldwide, Facebook tends to appeal to adults, while Twitter's active users tend to be younger, and Instagram’s are often between the ages of 18 and 29.

Facebook

Since a substantial portion of the world’s population is actively using Facebook, “Who isn’t Facebook’s target market?” may be an easier question to answer. As of 2018, 214 million American adults used Facebook. The site was especially popular among online people 25-34, who accounted for 58.3 million of those users. While its user base is dominated by those over 25 years of age, Facebook still has more than 46 million users under the age of 25.

Facebook is more popular with middle-aged adults than other social networks. In the United States, 84% of users were between the ages of 30 and 49. Facebook is popular among those in rural, suburban and urban areas, and those at every income level and educational background. There is also not much of a difference in usage among different ethnic backgrounds. The bottom line is, almost everyone who uses the internet as a means of communication is on Facebook regularly.

Twitter

Younger users depend on Twitter for news. No other medium in recent history has changed how news is distributed more than Twitter. The microblogging site allows users to keep up with events in a real-time news feed and charges advertisers to promote their targeted messages. Of Twitter’s 321 million active users in 2018, 14% were between the ages of 18-24, 21% between the ages of 25-34, and 19% between the ages of 35-44.

Internet users living in urban areas are more likely than their suburban or rural counterparts to use Twitter. The majority of regular Twitter users are male, while women tend to gravitate toward Facebook and Instagram. Twitter is more popular than other sites with the more affluent.

Instagram

Young people cannot survive without Instagram. The photo- and video-sharing network has become completely entrenched in the lifestyles of younger internet users. The migration of youth from Facebook to photo-sharing social networking sites such as Instagram explains why 64% of its 500 million daily users are between the ages of 18 and 29.

For more than half of American teens and people in their early twenties are on Instagram, and it is even more heavily used among higher-income youth. Americans in this demographic rely heavily on mobile devices, and posts to Instagram can only be made using one, adding to its popularity. In its infancy, Instagram was heavily skewed toward female users, and even as of 2018, 68% of its users were women.

Key Takeaways:

  • Facebook has universal appeal and is the most popular social network among middle-aged (in internet terms) users.
  • Twitter's audience skews younger than Facebook's and is primarily a source for news.
  • Instagram's users tend to be very young, teens and twenties, and very active and loyal.