Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room, or rather, on the internet: Twitter. It’s what everyone’s talking about thanks to Elon Musk’s acquisition of the platform in the end of October. Since then, he’s made changes that Gen Z and Millennials have not been afraid to critique: he’s made technical changes, altered verification status (detrimentally for some brands), and is drastically changing employee’s lives from massive layoffs to cutting off remote work. All happening in such a short time, young consumers on the platform are watching his every move, responding both with critical discourse and mocking memes.
In our new trend report The TikTok Effect, we ask 13-39-year-olds which social networks they’re currently using. YPulse’s data lets us compare where Twitter is falling in comparison to all the other social networks they’re on, and how many young people we’re actually talking about when the future of Twitter usage is debated:
More than one third of young people are Twitter users—but are they ready to move on?
Currently, Twitter is the sixth top social network young people overall are using with 39% of 13-39-year-olds on the platform overall, and Millennials slightly more likely to say they’re users than Gen Z. But in comparison to other major platforms, Twitter is falling behind youth-driven spaces like TikTok and even Snapchat. The platforms that rank above Twitter, including Facebook, are currently pushing or already completely reliant on video content, especially short form video, which YPulse data shows is a top source of entertainment for Gen Z. Twitter, in turn, fails to make it in Gen Z’s top five favorite social media platforms, but is number five for Millennials.
This similar usage, but lower affinity, makes sense when you look at Twitter’s major demographic; Statista reports that the largest group of Twitter’s global users are 24-35-years-old, making Millennials the platform’s top audience. Users 13-24-years-old make up roughly 24% of users—and we know that these younger users are very capable of making themselves heard. With Gen Z and Millennials making up over half of all Twitter users, they drive conversations, viral moments, and often prominent opinions on the site. Now, they’re fueling much of the criticism for Musk’s ownership, and threatening to jump ship should things get worse than they already are.
But whether they’re really committed to leaving is up in the air, as is what platforms could be boosted by such a move. Mastadon, one of the apps claiming new users from Twitter’s drama claims they’ve reached 1M monthly users in the wake of Elon’s takeover. Searches for the German-based company have been spiking on Google and young people’s interest in it has a lot to do with the platform’s commitment to regulating hate speech, a fear Twitter users have over Musk’s free speech initiatives. Mastodon says it “will only promote servers that ‘are consistently committed to moderation against racism, sexism, and transphobia.’”
Tumblr is also shooting their shot at gaining users (even if not celeb ones), as only 6% of Gen Z and Millennials currently use the platform. In a recent tweet, they wrote, “We are cringe. But we are free,” hoping to draw in new users hesitant of the platform’s identity as an older cringe-worthy corner of the internet, by reminding them that at least it’s not Twitter. However, Tumblr’s old aesthetics have gone viral in recent months, and the dismay on Twitter could be the impetus for its revival.
Their top social networks aren’t exactly social
The top two platforms Gen Z are using are TikTok and YouTube, meaning they aren’t always being “social” online—instead, they’re consuming entertainment that they could share with friends, but mostly enjoy alone. YPulse data shows that entertainment is the main reason Gen Z is logging onto social platforms, more so than Millennials. The older gen is using Facebook more than anything else, and the vast majority tell YPulse they’re going there for posts from their friends and family. Meanwhile, Gen Z says content from family and friends are low on the list of what they want to see on their favored TikTok and YouTube.
But, lacking in true “social” qualities as it may be, video content nearly has a monopoly on Gen Z’s social network usage and attention. TikTok is, as it has been, pulling ahead over social platforms that have been staples in their usage since Gen Z and Millennials were kids and teens, like Instagram and Snapchat. It’s the platform Gen Z names as their absolute favorite, and though Millennials use it less, it’s high on that ranking for them, too. But as of now, YouTube remains on top, but by a slim margin; in YPulse’s Media Consumption Monitor report, 48% of Gen Z say they would rather watch a short video than a long one—showing TikTok really has changed the way they look for content.
Discord and Roblox are nearing top platforms like Twitter and Facebook for Gen Z
Gaming-centered platforms Discord and Roblox are making Gen Z’s top 10 most used social networks, above other long-standing platforms like Pinterest, WhatsApp, and Reddit. And they’re nearing the popularity of Twitter and Facebook, each breaking 30% of Gen Z as users, showing that connections through gaming are rivaling these traditional social networks. Millennials are significantly less likely to say they’re using these platforms (-25pts less likely for Roblox), because while they are gamers too, they don’t see it as a social space in the same way Gen Z do. In fact, YPulse’s Gaming report data shows 96% of 13-39-year-olds play video games in some capacity, but 40% of Gen Z say hanging out with friends is a main reason they play video games, compared to 27% of Millennials.
So, while Gen Z’s number one and two most used platforms lack social connection, their gaming interest fuels it. In fact, YPulse’s Clicking on Community trend report shows one third of Gen Z say outside of their family and friends, a video game they play is where they find their sense of community. And while everyone is waiting to see if platforms like Twitter can hold onto their Gen Z audience, gaming platforms have no doubt that their young audience will only continue to grow.