Gen Z’s Favorite Social Media Platforms
By: Eliza Rudalevige
If you’ve gotten far enough to click on this article, you already know that Gen Z spends a considerable chunk of their time and energy creating and consuming social media content. But the label “social media” spans a much larger expanse of platforms than it used to, covering text-based social networks to media-sharing apps to content-curation sites. With so many options, which social media platforms still reign supreme among a Gen-Z audience?
According to one study, Instagram clinches the popularity contest for Gen Zers. IG is ubiquitous in middle school cafeterias, high school hallways, college parties, and even office break rooms as Gen Z continues to move into the workforce. Instagram has been a mainstay platform for Gen Z as we’ve grown up—I remember posting my first selfie, peace sign and duck face included, to my feed as a seventh grader with a hand-me-down iPod Touch. Gen Z is definitely an artistic and visual generation, so this photo app is a go-to.
TikTok, the youngest platform on this list, also claims a top-five finish. TikTok exploded into massive popularity during the pandemic as Gen Zers yearned for community and a creative outlet. Gen Z overwhelms the TikTok celebrity sphere, boasting members such as Charli D’Amelio, Khabane Lame, and Addison Rae in their ranks. In fact, four out of five of the top-followed accounts on TikTok are run by Gen Zers.
Snapchat has kept its hold on Gen Z, from filter-laden middle school “streaks” to nonchalant teenage flirting. Gen Z loves Snapchatting because it’s an easy, noncommittal way to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances, and to make connections with people you’ve just met. “What’s your snap?” is the new “what’s your number?” Over time, Snapchat has evolved to provide not just photo and messaging services, but a variety of filters, a news feed, and even entertaining short videos.
YouTube is one of the oldest social media platforms, clocking in at sixteen years old. Although the platform is older than a decent chunk of Gen Z, it’s still immensely popular among the young generation, offering everything from makeup hacks to thrift hauls and back-to-school tips. YouTube is also the second most visited site in the world, making it a global hub of content-sharing, and has expanded its range to movies, sports, and exclusive content on YouTube TV as well as the Community tab that allows subscribers to interact more directly with their favorite YouTubers.
Some call it “goldfish brain” and some call it innovation, but whichever way you see it, Gen Z is always on the lookout for the freshest trends, products, and ideas. Staying engaged with Gen Z is about making a commitment to learn and change as your audience does. For example, take Instagram’s recent updates; the popular app’s Reels feature, introduced in August of 2020, capitalized on the booming success of short-form video content and allowed creators to publish their content cross-platform to reach a larger audience. YouTube’s Shorts feature, which is still in its beta phase, accomplishes a similar goal.
Gen Z sticks with their favorite social media platforms—and brands—over time because they’re able to innovate and keep up with the rapidly changing social media and consumer landscape, which are becoming more and more entwined themselves as we progress into the 2020s. Adolescent is partnered with a vast network of creatives who are experts at riding the newest wave of innovations and social media platforms—so reach out to help us help your business connect with Gen Z.