How to Reach your Target Audience on Social Media

Developing a social media presence is no small task.  With multiple platforms to choose from, it’s important to consider where to place your efforts.  To help you, this post describes user profiles for the most popular social media platforms.

Facebook remains the most frequently used platform among adult users, and enjoys high rates of use across all demographic groups (Duggan, 2015).

  • A Pew Research Center report estimates that 72% of online adults aged 18 and older use Facebook.
  • Use rates were highest among women (77%); Hispanic (75%), 18-29 year old (82%), and urban (74%) user groups.
  • Use rates were lowest among male (66%), Black (67%), 65+ age (48%), and rural (67%) user groups.
  • 70% of Facebook users say they log in daily.

Instagram appeals to younger internet and mobile phone users (Duggan, 2015).

  • 55% of adults aged 18-29 use Instagram compared to 28% of the general population of adults 18 and over.
  • Instagram is more popular among Blacks (47%), compared to Whites (21%) and Hispanics (38%).
  • The proportion of online adults who use Instagram has doubled since 2012.
  • 59% of Instagram users visit daily.

LinkedIn appeals to the educated and employed (Duggan, 2015).

  • 46% of college graduates use LinkedIn, compared to 25% with some college, and 9% with a high school diploma or less.
  • Employed people use LinkedIn at higher rates than unemployed people (32% vs. 14%).
  • 41% of people earning $75,000 or more per year use LinkedIn, compared to those earning $50,000 – $74,999 (32%), $30,000 – $49,999 (21%), and less than $30,000 per year (17%).

Twitter is more popular among younger users, but use is leveling off (Duggan, 2015).

  • 32% of adults aged 18-29 use Twitter compared to 23% of the general population of adults 18 and older.
  • Twitter use rates have remained constant for the last three years.

It is also important to consider how users are accessing and absorbing information. Increasingly younger people use their mobile devices to access social media sites and prefer image and videos to lots of text.

Mobile devices are popular among transition-age youth (Statista, 2016).

  • 89% of 13 to 14 year olds and 93% of 15 to 17 year olds have mobile access to the internet.
  • Teens aged 16-24 spend approximately 200 minutes per day on mobile devices, as compared to adults aged 25-34 (150 minutes), 35-44 (102 minutes), 45-54 (54 minutes) and 55-64 (30 minutes).
  • In addition to text messaging (86%), teen users access Instagram (61.4%), Facebook (60.8%), Snapchat (60.2%), YouTube (53.6%) and Twitter (36.9%) on their mobile devices.
  • When teens were asked to rate their most important social network, 28% said Snapchat, 27% said Instagram, 18% said Twitter, and 17% said Facebook.

Visual communication is trending among teens and young adults.

  • 18-24 year olds account for about 45% of Snapchat customers (eMareter, 2015).
  • The number of Instagram users aged 12 to 17 is projected to grow from 13.6 million in 2014 to 19 million in 2018 (Statista, 2016).
  • Teens (aged 16-19) spend most of their time on YouTube (Hutchinson, 2015).
  • Millennials and Plurals (born after 2003) are visual and creative in a visual way (Modo Labs, 2016).

The role of social media is ever-expanding and needs to be considered in any outreach effort.  As Morley Winograd (a USC Fellow, Speaker, and Author from the Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy) concluded about Millennials at the 2016 Kurogo Higher Education Conference, “If you’re trying to talk to them, market to them, or engage them in any way, and you’re not on social media, then you don’t have a chance.  And if you are on social media, it is essential to address the generation’s interest in the visual.” (Modo Labs, 2016)


eMarketer (April 8, 2015). Millennials smile for Snapchat.  Retrieved from

Duggan, M.  (August 19, 2015).  The demographics of social media users.  Retrieved from the Pew Research Center at

Hutchinson, A. (August 12, 2015).  Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat most popular networks among millennial teens [Report].  Retrieved from Social Media Today at

Modo Labs (April 26, 2016). Social media use among college students and teens – What’s in, what’s out and why.  Retrieved from Modo Labs at

Statista (2016).  Most popular social networks of teenagers in the United States from Fall 2012 to Spring 2016.  Retrieved from

Winograd, M. (March 23, 2016). Engaging new generations of students: Millennials and Plurals.  Presented at the Kurogo Higher Education Conference at Cal State – Northridge.

Photo credit: laura pasquini via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA


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