Social & Influencers

Social media platform use is steady, except on X: report

The share of Americans who said they’ll maintain or up their use of the platform formerly known as Twitter in the next month fell by 12 points from earlier in the year, per Horizon Media.
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Social media: can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

Since last November, Why Group, Horizon Media’s behavioral science practice, has been tracking trust in social media platforms relative to current events with monthly surveys of around 1,000 Americans. The latest edition of its Social Media Trust Tracker covers data from June, when Linda Yaccarino became CEO of X; July, when Instagram released Threads; and August, when X lifted its ban on political advertising and former president Donald Trump posted on the platform for the first time since being unbanned.

Amid those changes and more, Why Group found social media usage in general hasn’t changed much—although some platforms seem to have bigger potential upsides for brands than others.

Trust issues: The surveys found that the top three “trust factors” in social media among Americans were data safety, trustworthy information, and platform reliability, the same as in the March–May surveys. But for some of the seven factors listed in the surveys, the gap between their importance and how well people think platforms perform on those fronts widened.

  • Two-thirds of respondents said that data safety is important, while only 21% said they trust platforms to deliver, marking a six-percentage-point gap increase.
  • User verifiability—aka verifying people are who they say they are—saw a five-point gap increase, with 46% saying it’s important and 15% saying they trust platforms to verify users’ identities.

Gen Zers and millennials are driving that gap growth, according to the report. Despite the gaps, though, respondents seem to be using social media to keep up with news and current events more—44%, or seven points higher than the last report, to be exact.

X takes an L: Why Group found steady use for all the major social platforms with the exception of one. The number of respondents who said they anticipate they’ll maintain or increase their use of X, the site formerly known as Twitter, in the next month fell by 12 points from April to August.

  • The group of those leaving the platform entirely skews toward Democrats, but not toward any particular age group.
  • X only slightly underperformed other platforms in terms of trust, but “the possibility of an alternative to Musk’s changes could be the tipping point,” according to the report.
  • About half (49%) of respondents who have tried or are open to trying Threads said a top reason they’re excited about the platform is because it presents an alternative to X or its owner, Elon Musk.

Unspooling Threads: Despite “seemingly immediate success,” the platform has since shown signs of flagging. Whu Group found that while 10% of its respondents have tried Threads, just 3% use it regularly. Plus, some of the attributes Threads has touted to attract users aren’t resonating:

  • One in three of those who have tried the platform said it had a positive community.
  • One in five said it’s safe, and 15% said it’s less political than other apps.
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Still, Why Group advised brands not to write it off just yet. Though they can’t run ads there, brands may want to establish a presence on the platform and monitor its performance, which could prove useful if the platform does take off—a possibility that may increase during election season given the exodus of Democrats from X and general concern over the trustworthiness of information there.

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