Generational preference: who is frequenting which social media platform?

Facebook is the most widely used social network in Australia across all generations, however image sharing communities like Instagram and Pinterest are picking up speed, according to the latest research from Roy Morgan.

The results are based on in-depth Roy Morgan Single Source interviews with more than 50,000 Australians over the 12 months to March 2019 compared to four years earlier in the year to March 2015, and may be of interest to niche publishers with audiences that largely fall into a particular generation.


Roy Morgan said that Facebook is Australia’s most widely used social network in early 2019 with over 17.1 million Australians aged 14+ visiting the network in an average four weeks.

Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan, said “Facebook is visited by over 17.1 million Australians in an average four weeks reaching over 83 per cent of Australians aged 14+. This is an increase of more than 4.2 million from four years ago, although most of that growth occurred from 2015 to 2017. Since 2017 usage of Facebook has grown by a more modest 540,000 as the network appears close to maximising its Australian audience.”

Facebook also experiences a user base that is strong across all five generations with a majority of Australians in every generation using Facebook.

Australians aged between 43-58 years old in Generation X are (marginally) the most likely to use Facebook with over 87 per cent of Generation X using Facebook in an average four weeks.

There are also over four-in-five Australians in Generation Z (82 per cent), Generation Y (86 per cent) and Baby Boomers (86 per cent) who use the social network. Facebook is also the most popular network for Pre-Boomers aged at least 72 years old.

You Tube

The research analyst said that YouTube is in a clear second place and the popular online video sharing site has an estimated 15.3 million visitors in an average four weeks, up by over 3.5 million (+29.7 per cent) from four years ago.

“However, similarly to Facebook, YouTube’s user growth has slowed in recent years with an increase of only 200,000 since 2017,” said Ms Levine.

YouTube has now displaced Facebook as the leading online community for Generation Z visited by 89 per cent of Australians aged 14-27 years old in an average four weeks. Unlike Facebook, usage of YouTube declines by age with 82 per cent of Generation Y, 72 per cent of Generation X, 65 per cent of Baby Boomers and 46 per cent of Pre-Boomers using the video-sharing site in an average four weeks.

Instagram and Pinterest

However, image sharing sites Instagram and Pinterest are the social networks that have grown the fastest in recent years, with both sites more than doubling their visitors.

Ms Levine said “Facebook-owned subsidiary Instagram has more than tripled its user-base since 2015 and over 8 million Australians now visit Instagram, up from only 2.4 million in 2015. This is an increase of 238 per cent in only four years and over the last two years Instagram has gained nearly 1.8 million new users.

“It’s a similar story at Pinterest which has more than doubled its user base from around 2.7 million four years ago to almost 7.4 million today. This is an increase of over 4.6 million from four years ago and Pinterest has attracted over 2 million new users in just the last two years alone.”

However, Ms Levine notes that although Instagram and Pinterest are the ‘hottest’ social networks for attracting new users, the two are attracting different audiences – Instagram a younger audience, and Pinterest the older generations.

For Instagram, over two-thirds of Generation Z (68 per cent) and a majority of Generation Y (52 per cent) use Instagram in an average four weeks compared to under a third of Generation X (32 per cent), under a sixth of Baby Boomers (15 per cent) and 7 per cent of Pre-Boomers.

Interestingly, Pinterest has a similar distribution of users as market leader Facebook. Pinterest is used by 40 per cent of Australians in Generation X, and almost the same proportion of both Generation Y (38 per cent) and Baby Boomers (38 per cent). A third of Generation Z (33 per cent) use Pinterest and just under a quarter of Pre-Boomers (24 per cent).

The Roy Morgan research did not note gender demographics for each of the social networks, however NPN is taking an educated guess that the majority of Instagram and Pinterest users are female.

Other sites to post impressive growth include:

  • Twitter, now with over 6.6 million visitors has increased by over 3 million (+83 per cent);
  • LinkedIn which now has almost 4.9 million visitors, up by over 1.4 million (+40.9 per cent); and,
  • Reddit which now has over 2.9 million visitors, up by over 1.2 million (+71 per cent).

Roy Morgan did not provide demographic data relating to Twitter, LinkedIn or Reddit.


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