Uses and Characteristics of Major Social Media Platforms

· Blog

Did you know that the total number of users of various social media platforms in Canada is 34.47 million?(*) Or that, not surprisingly, Facebook remains the most used social media in the country?

Do you know the story behind the creation of Facebook, what year Snapchat was invented or who are the most prominent users of TikTok?

To answer those questions, we have developed the following overview of the main social media, their uses, their quirks, as well as some fascinating data!


Founded in October 2010 by American Kevin Systrom and Brazilian Michel Mike Krieger, then acquired by Facebook in 2012, Instagram is now integrated into the Meta banner (Meta being the corporate owner of Facebook). This downloadable application on smart devices can also be used on a web browser, although the latter limits the functions of the platform.

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Instagram allows sharing of photos, videos, stories and live videos. The platform relies on interaction between users who can add "likes" or comments on published material. Messaging is also available on the app.

Known for its engagement rate and the opportunities it offers in influencer marketing, Instagram remains most popular among millennials (25-34 years old) and Gen Z (18-24 years old). In Canada alone, there are more than 16 million Instagram users.

Among the disadvantages of the platform, note that you cannot share the content of Instagram followers directly other than via the stories function, or by broadcasting it on another social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). It is also not possible to publish clickable links elsewhere than in the biography or stories.

Facebook and Facebook Messenger

Also under the Meta banner, Facebook was originally created by Mark Zuckerberg and a few collaborators while students at Harvard University. "The Facebook," as it was originally called, was aimed first at Harvard students before expanding to other academic institutions, and then to the public in 2006.

Downloadable on a mobile device or accessible on the web, the platform allows you to share various types of content, ranging from text to photos and famous memes, video and live content.

It is estimated that globally Facebook had about 2.93 billion monthly active users in the second quarter of 2022. In Canada, the number of Facebook users was 29.44 million in 2022. Those 25 to 34 year old are the main users of the platform (26%).

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In addition to being a great way to share and communicate with friends or loved ones, Facebook is a marketing tool of choice. However, frequent changes in algorithms and those that affect the platform used for page management (recently renamed Meta Business Suite) can give professionals a hard time.

Messenger is the related application dedicated to online messaging. Available on mobile devices as well as on computers, this messaging system even allows users without a Facebook account to use it by signing up with a phone number.

Some figures: in June 2022, 24.5% of Messenger users were aged 25 to 34, compared to 21% aged 35 to 44 and only 1% aged 13 to 17.


Based in the United States, YouTube is a platform serving as both video hosting and social media. It was founded in 2005 by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim, three former employees of PayPal, and then acquired by Google in 2006.

A pioneer in the world of video sharing and described as the second largest search engine after Google, YouTube is widely used by Internet users all over the world and especially among 15-35 year olds. In Canada, there were 26.6 million users in 2021 and this number is projected to reach 33.26 million in 2025.

One of the main advantages of YouTube is free access to a wide range of videos, from musical and artistic performances to explanatory or educational videos, tutorials of all kinds, to fun channels for young and old, to name just a few. However, the platform has repeatedly been criticized for retaining some problematic channels.


Sometimes referred to as a microblogging site because of its length-limited tweets, we recognize Twitter thanks to its blue-bird logo. Twitter was created in 2006 by Americans Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass.

Easy to use, this platform allows you to subscribe to various accounts, whether they are relatives, public figures, institutions, media or different companies. It is used to share informative content, opinions, anecdotes and so on. Initially, the site allowed the sending of just 140-character tweets, but that limit has now been doubled to 280 characters. Of course, users get around the limit by posting multiple tweets, one right after the other, to convey longer messages.

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People 25-34 years old are the most present on Twitter (38.5%), out of all countries combined. In 2022, there were more than seven million Twitter users in Canada. Acquired by Elon Musk on October 27, 2022, at a cost of $ 44 billion, Twitter will most certainly change in the coming months.

Already, Mr. Musk's decisions are not going unnoticed with a new paid system for authenticating accounts, a wave of mass layoffs just days after the change of ownership, followed by numerous resignations of other employees. Mr. Musk himself has said he will resign as CEO after an online poll said he should. Many rumours are circulating of all types, from changes that might be made to speculation about impending bankruptcy.

Twitter plays an important role for communications and public relations. Indeed, most journalists, media and politicians use it regularly. However, as a result of recent and rather drastic changes, some users have made the decision to boycott the platform.


The professional online platform par excellence, LinkedIn is an American social network created in 2002 and which was acquired by Microsoft in 2016.

Widely used for networking, recruiting candidates and finding jobs, contracts and internships, LinkedIn is also used to share professional-related content, join common interest groups and organize professional events.

As of June 2022, more than 20 million Canadians were on LinkedIn. The majority of these are between the ages of 25 and 34, representing 54.3% of all Canadian users. In addition, a greater proportion of men are present on this social network: it is estimated that in January 2022, 57.2% of global LinkedIn users were men.

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One of the fears about this tool is the disclosure of a lot of professional information that could fall into malicious hands and even lead to identity theft.


Commonly nicknamed simply "Snap", Snapchat launched in 2011 to allow the sharing of photos and videos, as well as the exchange of private messages. It was developed by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown, students at Stanford University in California.

Originally dedicated to sharing private photos between users, the application now allows the sending of videos, video chat, sharing of stories and the creation of Bitmoji avatars.

This social media is mainly used by teenagers and young adults (15-25 years) who represent 48% of users. In Canada, it is estimated that the total number of Snapchat users will reach 11.5 million by 2025.

From a professional communications point of view, Snapchat seems to lag behind other platforms who offers better benefits for influencer marketing campaigns.


Created by Americans in 2010 and initially accessible via the web only, Pinterest acquired a mobile application in 2011 (first on iOS). This social media is intended for sharing photographs in the form of sections and photo albums, through illustrations found all over the web.

The name of this social platform is the contraction of the words pin and interest. Indeed, users are invited to "pin" photos corresponding to their interests.

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Since 2013, the site has adopted a monetization strategy with its advertising pins. The platform even launched into augmented reality in early 2022.

Pinterest's audience is predominantly female. In Canada, there were approximately 3.29 million Pinterest users in 2021 and this number is expected to reach 4.10 million by 2025.

Interestingly, Pinterest is the only major platform to ban ads about weight loss.


A brand new social platform dedicated to video sharing, TikTok was created in 2016 by the Chinese company ByteDance. TikTok quickly conquered the short video market, offering the ability to design creative content by adding visual effects, songs and combining videos.

It is estimated that the number of active users worldwide is over one billion at present. TikTok mostly reaches young audiences. In the United States, 47.4% of TikTok users are under the age of 30 and 25% of the platform's followers are between the ages of 10 and 19. In Canada, the figures are much the same; as of May 2022, an estimated 43% of Canadian users are aged 18 to 29.

Ideal for content creators and creative users, TikTok has some negative aspects related to the security and preservation of the privacy of its underage audience.


Developed in 2009 by two former Yahoo employees, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, WhatsApp is an encrypted instant messaging service used both on mobile phones and the Internet. Its name refers to the common news-seeking question, "What's up?" In addition to making it possible to send messages (text, audio, video), the application allows the exchange of files and the creation of discussion groups. However, it is regrettable that it is impossible to send large files (video larger than 16 MB or documents larger than 100 MB).

Acquired by Facebook in 2014, this messaging application is popular worldwide, especially among 26-35 year-olds.

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With 2 billion active users worldwide and more than 8 million in Canada, WhatsApp is at the forefront of instant messaging applications. Did you know that more than 100 billion messages are sent every day on WhatsApp?


Founded in 2005, Reddit is a site and community that integrates discussions, forums and news, and allows users to respond to posts and vote for their relevance. Initially mainly used by programming and science enthusiasts, the site has expanded to all types of subjects.

Mainly frequented by the English-speaking community, this platform is mainly composed of Americans; the other two countries from which the largest proportion of users come are the United Kingdom and Canada.

People aged 18 to 29 are the most found on Reddit with a ratio of 64%, compared to 29% among 30-49 year-olds.


Created in 2009, then made more widely available in 2010, Quora is an American platform that is similar to a web forum offering questions and answers. These questions and answers are structured by topics and users can edit, validate, reject or report answers depending on the quality of the information they contain.

Of Quora's top users, nearly half are Americans. It has a total of 40 million monthly users.

And you may not know it, but Quora creators Adam D'Angelo and Charlie Cheever are two former Facebook employees!


Twitch is a web-based live video streaming platform and mobile app that was launched in 2011. Its predecessor,, was founded in 2007 by Justin Kan, Emmett Shear, Michael Seibel and Kyle Vogt as a smaller-scale version of what we know of Twitch today. Indeed, this channel continuously broadcast Justin Kan's daily life!

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Twitch is now the largest streaming platform. Initially dedicated to the live transmission of video games, Twitch has diversified, although it is still renowned for its content related to video games.

Key statistics for the platform include that in 2021, Twitch averaged 2.78 million concurrent viewers and 22.8 billion hours of content were consumed on the platform in 2021. The users are mostly young men between the ages of 18 and 24.

This interactive platform can be used by streamers to generate revenue but Twitch takes a percentage of that revenue and the content broadcast must remain exclusive to Twitch.

Some emerging platforms

In addition to the networks already discussed, there are other alternatives that deserve to be known. These include Discord, which is beginning to establish itself in Canada. Started in 2015, it, like Twitch, was also originally designed for video game enthusiasts and was quickly adopted by developers to reach their publics. Discord is a system that allows communication via video, text or audio, and that integrates private servers that can be reached by groups of people sharing a common interest. Larger communities also exist.

Created in 2020, the BeReal app has been increasingly popular since the beginning of 2022 and also seems to be gaining ground in Canada. As its name suggests, this application invites users to be "authentic" by publishing everyday and at the same time an unedited and unmodified shot and without the usual Instagram filters.

(*) Most of the statistics in this text are from Statista.