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How European Gen Z & Millennials Describe Their Favorite Social Media Platforms, in 3 Charts

Which social platforms do young Europeans think are the most fun, creative, or fake?


  • Young Europeans are spending huge amounts of time on social media—and they don’t feel bad about it
  • Gen Z is most likely to associate TikTok with the most positive words, while Millennials are still  thinking of Instagram most highly
  • Brands need to know what platforms young Europeans are enjoying the most to continue to reach them there

YPulse’s recent WE tech/device usage report found that young Europeans are spending an average of 6.1 hours a day on their smartphones—and the majority of that time is spent on social media. In our WE social media behavior report, young Europeans self-report spending an average of 3.58 hours a day on social media—and they’re not trying to cut back. Less than half say they’ve been feeling social media fatigue, supporting what we’ve known for a while: social media—and the memes, GIFs, and viral trends they find there—is a huge part of their lives and culture. After all, young Europeans largely consider their favorite platforms to be a positive influence in their lives—our social media behavior report found that the majority agree that social media has a more positive impact on the world than negative and disagree that it makes them feel worse about themselves. Meanwhile, our recent WE New Content Creators trend research shows that social media is increasingly becoming a valid career path—and a way for them to express their creativity for all the world (or at least a few thousand followers) to see.

But when it comes to consuming or creating content, not all social media platforms are created equal. While YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok may be their favorites, the ways they describe these spaces are vastly different—and hint at which platform’s numbers we’re likely to see grow. We asked young people in Western Europe to tell us which platform they would most describe as fun, addictive, entertaining, fake, mean, and more. Here’s how platforms were viewed most positively, and which were, well, not:

When it comes to the kind of entertaining content that young Europeans can’t put down, TikTok and Instagram take the cake. Among both Gen Z and Millennials, Instagram is their top-used platform, and also the platform they’re creating content on for an audience beyond friends and family the most, which helps explain why these gens consider it the most popular platform. Instagram also wins for most creative—but just barely. Close on its heels is TikTok, which young Europeans also deem the most fun, addictive, and entertaining. YPulse has been tracking the meteoric rise of TikTok for a while now, and it’s fast becoming the top app among Gen Z—and Millennials are catching up to it, too. In fact, in North America, TikTok has officially become young consumers’ favorite app. And since they are most likely to see the platform as fun, entertaining, creative, and addictive, young Europeans likely aren’t far behind. This is especially true for Gen Z, who are more likely than Millennials to associate TikTok with the most positive words provided:

According to the younger gen, TikTok is by far the most fun, addictive, entertaining, popular, and creative social media platform. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. TikTok is the place for European Gen Z content creators—and it’s where culture is created. In fact, our WE Pop Culture Redefined trend research found that Gen Z is far more likely to care about a meme or viral video on social media than any other classic pop culture moment, including the release of a movie, song, or TV show, a big sporting event, or even a celebrity scandal, and that TikTok is one of the top platforms they’re using to keep up with pop culture. TikTok is also fueling Gen Z fashion trends, from cottagecore to dreamcore, to pearlcore to—the latest—fairy grunge, as well as beauty trends, from hyaluronic acid hair treatments to #skintok to YSL’s lipstick printer.

But more than just a cultural gateway and place to consume entertaining or fun content, TikTok is a place for young peoples’ personal creativity to shine, too. The platform’s features, such as Duets, makes it easy for young people everywhere to participate in trends, and with an algorithm that allows popular videos to get posted onto the #foryoupage for any user to see, it’s possible for anyone to go viral—which inspires even more creativity on the platform. What’s more, TikTok is a place largely considered by Gen Z to be real, i.e. a place where creators—and brands—show their true selves. In fact, just 10% of Gen Z (and only 12% of Millennials) consider TikTok “fake,” unlike Instagram:

After popular, the second top way both gens describe Instagram is “fake.” Millennials are even more likely to see it that way, perhaps because they have grown up with social media being highly curated, filtered, and picture-perfect. Gen Z, on the other hand, pioneered the Cult of Ugly, which prizes images on social media that are more real, raw, and unfiltered. And while TikTok may be the top place they’re going for this kind of “real” content, cross-pollination between all platforms has become the norm, and seeing a creator’s TikTok account info on their Instagram profile (or vice versa) is common, which would help explain why Instagram is less fake in the eyes of Gen Z.

Gen Z and Millennials are equally likely to call Instagram “popular,” and it’s true—more young Europeans use Instagram than TikTok. But though Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to say Instagram is entertaining, fun, and creative, the older gen iz also more likely to say that TikTok is these things than Instagram. While 21% of Millennials say Instagram is fun, for instance, 30% say TikTok is. Brands need to recognize that having a strategy for reaching young consumers on TikTok is imperative not only for reaching them now, but for continuing to reach them in the (very near) future as the platform continues to rise in popularity—and be viewed in a positive light by young Europeans.

YPulse Western Europe Business users can access the full Social Media Behavior behavioral report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Western Europe Business account? Find out more here.