Social Ranking: How Millennials & Teens Really Feel About The Platforms They Use

This week we're counting down our five most popular articles of 2016 so far, and giving all our readers access to one each day. Here is the 3rd most clicked, originally published Jan 4, 2016.  Enjoy!

What do 13-33-year-olds really think of Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and the other sites they're spending the most time on?

Our most clicked article of 2015 was Millennials & Teens Sound Off: Their Top 10 Favorite Apps. It makes sense—brands are now understanding that if they want to reach young consumers, they need to tailor marketing for the media and entertainment they’re spending the most time consuming, and knowing which they love the most is a huge advantage. In that article, we reported that Instagram was at the top of their top ten favorite app list, beating out Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and more.

But they’re using multiple platforms for multiple purposes, so in one of our most recent surveys of young consumers, we took our exploration of their social media preferences to a new level. Which social platform do Millennials and teens think is the most fun? The most boring? The most addictive? We got 1000 13-33-year-olds to sound off on the social media that they use, and got the real scoop on how they rank the apps and sites they're hooked on. 

We had young consumers look at a list of positive and negative descriptors, and asked them to choose the social media app that they felt is best described by each. The result is a snapshot of their range of feelings on these platforms. Here’s an overall look at which apps were most likely to be chosen for each descriptor, for 13-33-year-olds overall:  

Facebook's ubiquitousness for young consumers is clear here. They see the site as the most popular, addictive, authentic, boring, and annoying all at once. FB's wide range of functions are a factor: because so many things are done on the platform (photos, status, news sharing, etc.) it can play more than one role in users' lives, and evoke many different feelings. 

Arguably, YouTube performed the best in the positive attribute list, ranking the highest for the most descriptors, and not coming in the top three position for any of the negative list. Interestingly, Twitter has a bit of the opposite problem, coming up as the second most annoying and most mean platform overall, and not ranking in the top three for any of the positive attributes. In our social media use tracker, we have seen Twitter use plateau amongst young consumers, while visually-driven Instagram (which ranked as one of the most popular, addictive, and creative) has seen use steadily climb. 

Of course, we've talked before about the difference between older Millennial and teen social media users, and a look at the rankings according to age presents some interesting differences. Here is a comparison of the top picked app for each descriptor among 13-17-year-olds and 18-33-year-olds: 

For 13-17-year-olds, Facebook ranked as the most authentic platform, but did not rise to the top for any other positive descriptors. This indicates a weakness in Facebook's perception among its youngest users: it's not standing out from the crowd. These are consumers who are more accustomed to specialized social media, apps and sites that have taken just one Facebook's many features and made it a focus. The competition is possibly drowning out the originator. For teens, YouTube is clearly the most highly regarded site, coming up as the most addictive, creative, fun, and innovative. 

Facebook's difficulties with young users is also clear when we look at the age comparison for the negative descriptors: 

Here, Facebook is the most annoying and ties as most boring for teens. While Twitter takes those dubious honors among 18-33-year-olds. 

Those who read our first paragraph might be wondering why Instagram, which ranked as Millennials and teens' favorite app, is also the one they see as the most fake. We explored this dichotomy in our most recent Ypulse Quarterly: while young consumers have perfected the art of looking perfect on social, and the platforms have become an integral part of their lives, there is an awareness of the dangers of social media illusion. In addition, while they believe they personally are conveying their true selves on social media, they perceive others' posts as less authentic. 

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The Newsfeed

“Art is basically my job and I enjoy it so much.”—Female, 15, MD

Snap is making its “biggest move” in scripted original content, teaming up with NBCUniversal and the Duplass brothers for their next series. The Duplass-owned creative studio Donut will produce original series for Snap shot in vertical video. NBCU and Snap will also be opening a joint digital content studio focused completely on mobile-first entertainment, “formaliz[ing] their partnership” and putting Snap firmly in the producing/original content creation camp. Snap’s mobile-only approach is part of a movement to shake up how we view videos—in fact, they’re calling their offering “a fundamentally new medium.” (THRTechCrunch)

Eggo frozen waffles are capitalizing on their unexpected Stranger Things’ fame. The brand has seized the marketing opportunity of being a part of one of Millennials & Gen Z’s favorite shows, tying themselves into Netflix’s Super Bowl ad, creating a special toaster for select fans, and swarming New York Comic Con with people dressed up like Eleven armed with “watch party kits” (aka “waffles and a microwavable syrup server”). To prep for the premiere of season two of the show, Eggo is sending out a fully-loaded food truck for the red carpet premiere, and going all out on social media to connect with fans. (MediaPost)

More teens than ever have severe anxiety, but why? The American College Health Association found a 12% increase in undergrads reporting “overwhelming anxiety” from 2011 to 2016, and several studies concur that “there’s just been a steady increase of severely anxious students.” Social media is part of the problem—constant like-monitoring and cyber bullying isn’t helping the most stressed generation to date. There’s also an increasing (and constant) perceived need to over-achieve. One psychology professor observes, “There’s always one more activity, one more A.P. class, one more thing to do in order to get into a top college.” (NYTimes)

Ypulse research has shown that 88% of Millennial parents are trying to avoid helicopter parenting—but they might not be able to help it. The constant media storm of global atrocities and everyday stories of parenting gone wrong combined with advertisers’ willingness to fear-monger, results in a generation of (understandably) anxious parents. It doesn’t help that the tech to constantly monitor kids is easily available (albeit pricey)—from drone surveillance meant for the military to devices that track “blood-oxygen levels all night long.” One relationship therapist sums up, “Everyone is having a hard time drawing a line and just figuring out what’s reasonable versus what’s over-protective.” (Refinery29)

Brands are turning college students into mini-sales forces. Aerie, Victoria’s Secret Pink, and Express are just a few of the many brands that have a program for college campus reps where students receive swag, experience, and other perks for helping bring brand awareness to their colleges. Though brands don’t always require social posts, most ambassadors do share their swag on social, bringing organic ads to their friends’ feeds. The biggest draw is that social posts from reps “[come] across as natural, authentic, a product that they would normally use or want to talk about.” (Racked)

“[Celebrity] can mean anything nowadays and it's a rather diluted term; from YouTube star, to someone on Instagram with millions of followers, to reality TV dopes, etc.”—Male, 30, WI

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