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. 

Want to access insights on young consumers just like this every day? Simply click here to find out more about becoming a subscriber.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here. 

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?


The Newsfeed

“The wedding trend I have noticed is the white wedding dress being phased out and an array of colors and styles being used.”

—Female, 32, FL

Millennials are about to receive “one of the largest intergenerational wealth transfers in history,” according to UBS. This comes right as they reach peak earning age, making Millennials a powerful spending force—so how can Wall Street pull their purse strings? Besides transparent business practices, they’re expecting on-demand everything across all channels. Easily-navigable banking apps and mobile-first financial advice services are must-haves to impress them. (Business Insider)

Today’s teens are having safer sex, according to a CDC report. Not only are fewer teens having sex, but those that are, are more likely to be using contraceptive methods. Compared to 1988, 9% fewer 15-19-year-old females and 16% fewer males have had sex. The teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. also hit a historic low, with 99.4% of female teens who have had sex using contraception at least once, compared to 97.7% in 2002. (CBS)

Most young consumers use ad blockers, but they don’t always mind seeing ads online—as long as their “space” is respected. Defy Media and TMI Strategy found that 13-25-year-olds were open to seeing ads that are contextually relevant and informative, and don’t interrupt their experience. Anything that “clogs their feed” is off the table, but they’re not averse to all ad placements: 78% don’t consider product placement offensive, 62% follow at least one branded account, and 44% are subscribed to a branded newsletter. (Adweek)

The future of Facebook is going to be a bit more private. Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that the platform’s new mission is to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” Connecting with friends and family will come back to the forefront, with Groups as a “lynchpin” of this “next era” to make smaller communities and more closed-circle communication a focus, instead of the cluttered public feed. (NYMag)

Japan’s Millennials would stay at one company for life, defying the job-hopping stereotype in favor of job security. From 2001-2015, the percentage of Japan’s Millennials who supported lifelong employment and one-company careers skyrocketed from 64% and 40% to 87% and 55%, respectively. In fact, last year, less than 7% of 25-34-year-olds switched jobs at all. Overall, Japanese employees leave jobs at less than half the rate of Americans, and younger Japanese workers are “even more risk averse.” (Bloomberg)

“I love reality TV shows. It's always fun to watch average people make themselves look foolish just for a shot at fame.”

—Female, 17, CA

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies