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This is How WE Gen Z & Millennials’ Social Media Use Has Changed in 2022

Three young adults looking at their social media

This is how European Gen Z and Millennials’ social media usage has shifted compared to a year ago…

TL;DR

  • YouTube became the most-used social media platform among young Europeans in 2022
  • TikTok is increasingly popular among Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe, with a five-point increase in usage since last year
  • Fewer report using Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Pinterest, compared to 2021

Twice a year, YPulse surveys young Europeans’ on their use of social media, and the findings are revealed in the Social Media Monitor Report. Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe continue to spend enormous amounts of time on social media—an average of 3.58 hours a day by their own estimations—so it is crucial for brands to understand what exactly these young consumers do when scrolling on socials. These reports look closely at the most popular social media platforms among Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe, and dig into everything social media: from what platforms are most entertaining to which starts the most trends. European Gen Z and Millennials’ social media preferences are constantly evolving, and the way they view some of the biggest social media players is shifting the social landscape.

Last year, YPulse found that video-based platforms are increasing in popularity, and Gen Z’s use of these platforms was increasing nearly across the board. But what changes have we seen in 2022 regarding social media usage among young Europeans? As we approach the new year, this chart shows how social media usage has changed compared to a year ago:

This is How WE Gen Z & Millennials’ Social Media Use Has Changed in 2022

YouTube became young Europeans’ most-used social media platform in 2022

YouTube is now the most used platform among 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe, and while its usage remained the same among Gen Z and Millennials this year, the Google-owned company benefited from the decrease in usage of Instagram and WhatsApp, which we’ll talk about more later. But it’s significant that overall YouTube usage stayed consistent in the face of mounting video competition. These generations have grown up on YouTube, and this video platform provides far more than entertainment for them. Our Self-Taught trend research also shows that it’s one of the top resources young consumers go to when they want to learn something new. YouTube has also managed to stay relevant among young consumers with the launch of YouTube Shorts in 2021, a direct competitor to TikTok. Data from our own brand tracker YScore+ shows that this new short video platform is performing relatively well in Western Europe compared to other video services.

Fewer young Europeans used Facebook and Pinterest this year

Three in five Gen Z and Millennials say they use Facebook in 2022, a nine-point decrease from 2021. Facebook Messenger, the messaging app of Facebook, is also facing a lack of interest from young European consumers. Nearly half of them were using Facebook Messenger in 2021, but this year, this number decreased by ten points. In Western Europe, Facebook is increasingly accused of privacy breaches, and has been heavily fined by the EU in 2022. It’s not just in Western Europe that Facebook is not doing well, the company had a tough year globally: the app lost active users for the first time in its 18-year history, and the value of its mother-company Meta plunged by $700 billion in 2022.

Facebook is not the only social media platform that lost young European users this year: Pinterest is also suffering from the fierce competition taking place in the attention economy. This year, the app lost its place in the top 10 most-used social media platforms, and now ranks 12th on the list, behind Discord and Twitch. Pinterest is trying hard to remain relevant among European Gen Z and Millennials, and released two new features in 2022 to appeal to these gens. Earlier this year, Pinterest announced the launch of Shuffles which helps users create mood boards and collages. The final collages can then be shared with friends, and even be tampered with to “remix” the creation in a new way. And only a few weeks ago, Pinterest announced it was broadening its global accessibility by adding new languages to the app—including two new European languages: Croatian, and Bulgarian—in an effort to reach a global audience.

TikTok growth among Gen Z and Millennials in WE continued

It’s not news that TikTok has become extremely popular in recent years among young consumers, in North America as well as Western Europe. In 2021, YPulse already reported that no platform has seen growth comparable to TikTok’s. But our data shows that the growth in usage continued in 2022. The video-sharing app that brought Musical.ly to the next level has changed the music industryspawned fashion trendscreated the next generation of celebrities, and is generating the pop culture moments young consumers care about most. TikTok is the go-to platform for brands wanting to reach Gen Z and Millennials, and our recent trend report The TikTok Effect shows that the success of the app is influencing the type of content young consumers want to see on other platforms, as well as the future of online marketing.

But usage of WhatsApp and Instagram decreased slightly

WhatsApp and Instagram use saw a slight decrease among young Europeans in 2022. Despite the many privacy issues that WhatsApp encountered last year, it remains a popular platform among young Europeans, 69% of whom say they use the platform in 2022, a three-point decrease from last year. While Instagram is facing a similar three-point decrease in usage since last year, the platform remains a staple among Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe. The Meta-owned social media is one of young Europeans’ top sources of entertainment, and YPulse’s data from Fits For The Feed trend report also shows that young people name Instagram as the top social platform when it comes to helping to create fashion trends.