Generation Like; Digital Natives; the social media generation. These are all names given to the Millennial generation. But have millennials (ages 18-35) really earned their title as masters of social media? Well, it depends on which platform you’re talking about.
PRRI’s millennial survey reveals that Facebook, somewhat unsurprisingly, is the social media platform used most by millennials. Nearly seven in ten (69 percent) millennials say they are on Facebook at least a few times a week, and most (63 percent) are also on YouTube and Vine every week. Regular use of other social media platforms is more spotty: only three in ten (30 percent) say they use Instagram at least weekly; two in ten (20 percent) report using Twitter a few times a week or more; and just 10 percent say they use Tumblr that frequently.
Looking at millennial subgroups by gender, age, and race and ethnicity, we see that the hierarchy of social media platforms—Facebook, YouTube and Vine, Instagram, Twitter, then Tumblr—largely remains intact.
While large majorities of every millennial subgroup report frequent use of Facebook, millennial women (76 percent) are the most likely to be on Facebook at least a few times a week—more likely than millennial men (63 percent). Millennials of all ages report similar levels of Facebook use, but racial divides in Facebook use do exist—while about seven in ten white (71 percent), Hispanic (71 percent), and Asian-Pacific Islander (API) millennials (70 percent) report using Facebook weekly or more, only 57 percent of black millennials say the same.
Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of API millennials report using YouTube or Vine at least a few times a week. As is the case with Facebook, black millennials (58 percent) are the racial and ethnic group least likely to say they watch YouTube or Vine videos a few times a week or more. Use of the video platforms varies by age—younger millennials (ages 18-24) are more than 10-percentage points more likely than older millennials (ages 30-35) to watch YouTube or Vine videos frequently (69 percent vs. 56 percent, respectively). Millennial men (67 percent) are more likely than millennial women (58 percent) to report watching YouTube or Vine videos at least weekly.
Instagram doesn’t enjoy the same millennial traffic as Facebook, YouTube, and Vine—no majority of any subgroup reports using Instagram at least a few times a week. At 42 percent, younger millennials report the highest level of frequent Instagram use of any millennial subgroup; they are twice as likely as older millennials (21 percent) to report weekly use of Instagram. Millennial women (39 percent) are also more likely than millennial men (24 percent) to use Instagram frequently.
Twitter use does not vary much by gender or race and ethnicity, but it does vary greatly by age—younger millennials (28 percent) are twice as likely as older ones (14 percent) to say they use Twitter at least a few times a week. In fact, younger millennials have the highest percentage of frequent Twitter users of any millennial subgroup.
Use of Tumblr, the least popular of these five social media platforms, also does not vary much by gender, but there are divides among races. At 16 percent, API millennials are the most likely subgroup to say they log on to Tumblr at least once a week. Younger millennials (14 percent) are also nearly 10-percentage points more likely than older millennials (5 percent) to say they use Tumblr a few times a week or more.
For more on millennials and their social media habits, read “How Race and Religion Shape Millennial Attitudes on Sexuality and Reproductive Health.”