Social media continues to transform how we communicate, gather information and connect with others. It’s the place where we get our news, check in with our friends and family, and discover the latest hot spot for lunch or the newest fashion trends.

In fact, 4.62 billion people around the world use social media, with 424 million new users joining a social network in the last year, according to the DATAREPORTAL Digital 2021 October Global Statshot Report.

More than 58.4% of the world now uses social media.

Americans account for 270.1 million social media users as of February 2022. Love it or hate it, businesses and organizations need to have a visible presence and relevance in the social media realm to stay competitive.

Facebook is the most popular social media platform across the globe, with Instagram coming in a close second, according to Global Web Index’s February 2022 – Social Media in the US report. In the US, Facebook is used by nearly 75% of consumers. It’s important to note that Facebook and Instagram are owned by the same company, Meta. This could ultimately raise concerns about one company having access to a multitude of profiles and information, and the potential to share or sell that information to other groups or advertisers.

Americans are also increasing their presence on apps like Reddit as this platform allows consumers to create community or topic-based content, while maintaining a level of anonymity.

Over 2 in 5 social media users have 5+ social media accounts.

Despite its pronounced popularity, Gen Z – those ages 25 and under – are nearly 1.4 times less likely to use Facebook than the average social media user. Instagram is their preferred platform as it aligns with their motivations for using social media.

TikTok has also found a new fan base. Initially a favorite among younger folks, engagement among Gen X – those ages 42-57 – has grown 79% since December 2020. Engagement skyrocketed 147% during the same timeframe for baby boomers – those ages 58-76.

“Businesses will need to pay close attention as shifts in user demographics across all social networks will have a direct impact on how brands meet their target audiences where they are,” said Marc Ehrhardt, president of The Ehrhardt Group. “Companies will likely need to reconsider some platforms previously viewed as ‘not our market’ as the digital landscape continues to evolve.”

Why are we using social media?

There are many motivations for using social media, and the news still plays a leading role in why consumers scroll. Nearly 70% of Twitter users say this is the place where they get their news. Americans who tweeted about news in 2021 focused primarily on three areas: entertainment, politics and sports, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

However, Facebook is still the leading source for news for Americans according to Pew Research Center, despite the network continuing to facing criticism for misinformation being shared on the platform.

48% of U.S. adults say they get news from social media “often” or “sometimes.”

While baby boomers are using social media to read the news and stay in touch with family and friends, Gen Z are using it to follow influencers, find content and stay up-to-date on their favorite brands.

Online Shopping 2.0

Social media is redefining how we shop. As commerce continues to move from brick-and-mortar outlets to online experiences, consumer preferences are evolving. Social outlets such as Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Shopping are leading the way in e-commerce with significant growth among Gen X (24%) and Baby Boomers (33%) during the last 12 months. TikTok is currently the most popular social media platform in the US for finding products to buy.

According to new data from Sprout Social, more than 68% of consumers have already purchased directly from social media and 98% of consumers plan to make at least one purchase through social media this year. With social spending projected to hit $1.2 trillion by 2025, businesses will need to get social with their product base to keep up with the competition.

The digital landscape is changing. Our social media habits and motives are evolving. Social media is no longer just for “socializing.” It is the hub of information and commerce. The place where ideas are shared, agendas are promoted, and you can still keep in touch with grandma. It is a multi-faceted and ever-evolving environment that pulls in and captivates billions of people across the globe daily.


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The Gulf South Index is a cooperative project between The Ehrhardt Group, a public relations, content, issues and crisis firm, and Causeway Solutions, a nationally recognized research and data analysis company, that are both based in the Gulf South.

The Index delves into hundreds of thousands of data points to paint a better picture of how the millions of people living in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle are going about their lives. We want to find out more about how we make decisions, from what we are buying and how we are getting our news to where we plan to travel.

We cannot comment on the methodology of the surveys and research we did not conduct, which is why we do our best to link to the source articles or studies that we share here.

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