Top 10 Most Popular Social Media Apps: Which Is the Best?

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | Jul 11, 2024

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In the modern age, social media has undeniably become enmeshed in people’s daily lives. Everyone is either checking their Facebook, prettifying their Instagram feed, watching YouTube, filming a TikTok, or tweeting their innermost thoughts. Social networking platforms have become so commonplace that hundreds of them exist today. But what are the most popular social media apps out there?

Anyone who isn’t living under a rock can probably name the world’s biggest social media companies. You’ve got the likes of Meta, who owns Facebook and Instagram, and Google, the proud parent company of YouTube. Of course, we’ve got other sites like TikTok, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and they are also rising in popularity.

But what makes these social media sites better than the rest? What makes them tick, and why do people stay active on them when there are so many other options? Keep reading to see the impact and key features of the top 10 social media platforms today.

Someone holding an iPhone with icons of different social media sites.

Why People Love Using Social Media So Much

Social media sometimes gets a bad rep and tons of criticism for its impact on people’s mental health. From cyberbullying to the rat race to getting likes, there’s a lot about these networks that give people anxiety. But even with that, people still stay active on their favorite platforms. Why is that?

There are many reasons why people love being on social media. According to Statista, the number one reason why people use social media is to keep in touch with others. Almost 50% of users use these platforms to stay connected with family and friends. Through social media posts and life updates over messaging apps, people can stay on top of their loved ones’ lives.

These channels are also amazing sources of information and fun, entertaining content. There’s always a cool video, beautiful photo, or exciting live stream to see. That’s why so many people end up mindlessly scrolling on their favorite platform for hours at a time.

Social platforms also give users a chance to post their content. Many people on the internet enjoy posting life updates, personal photos, and even challenge videos on social networking sites. They also use platforms to speak up about issues they’re passionate about to make some sort of social impact online. In short, these sites are avenues for self-expression and creativity.

And it’s not just everyday people who are on social media. Even brands consider it a marketing tool and a place to connect with their target audience. This is where businesses run ads, engage with their customers, and post announcements about their company. Cool, right?

The Top 10 Most Popular Social Media Apps (and What Makes Each One Unique!)

Are you ready to learn about the top social networking platforms in the world and how they contribute to the digital ecosystem? Let’s jump right in! Here are the top 10 most popular social networking sites and what makes each one so special.

1. YouTube: Everyone’s Favorite Video-Sharing Platform

Let’s kick off the list with the video-sharing giant YouTube. This platform was founded in 2005, and one year later, tech giant Google bought it. Since then, it has become the largest social network for videos. The website houses millions of videos ranging from music videos, vlogs, TV shows, and even full movies.

What’s cool about these videos is that most of them are user-generated content. That means anyone with an account can record videos and upload them on the platform for others to watch.

This social media channel has become a hub for communities sharing valuable video content with each other. There are beauty gurus who post makeup and skincare advice, family channels full of parenting vlogs, and even cooking shows.

People can like and comment on videos they love and subscribe to channels they wish to see more from. The most successful YouTubers get the chance to monetize their videos and even get sponsorships from brands. What more can you expect from the undisputed king of video?

A laptop screen showing a list of YouTube videos on the website’s “Trending” section.

2. Facebook: The Social Media Giant That Started It All

Many people consider Facebook to be the first social media giant that paved the way for other platforms. Mark Zuckerberg and his college roomies at Harvard founded this iconic platform back in 2004.

Fast forward two decades later, and it’s the social media channel with the highest number of active users per month. According to Shopify, that number sits at around three million people every month as of April 2024. Insane growth, right?

The concept of the platform is simple. Everyone has a timeline (aka a personal profile) where they can post life updates and share interesting posts. You can add people to your network to be “friends” with them. When you do, their posts will show up on your feed, where you can see updates from your loved ones.

This social networking site is amazing for staying connected with friends and family. It breaks boundaries and is popular among all age groups. So, it’s perfect for staying in touch with pretty much everyone.

The platform has grown so much that it now has features like the Messenger app and Marketplace for selling products. It even allows brands to run ads on the website and across the entire Meta network.

The Facebook login page displaying on a laptop that is next to a plant.

3. Instagram: The Aesthetically Pleasing Lifestyle Platform

Next up, we have Meta’s other incredibly successful platform—Instagram. This social media site is a hit among younger internet users, from Millennials to Gen Z. Why? Because it’s all about aesthetics. It’s the platform for beautiful visual content, from photography to cinematic short-form video.

Because the platform is so popular for its visual storytelling, it’s home to many communities that rely on visuals. Many creators and brands post content related to fashion, travel, food, art, books, and other lifestyle topics. These accounts curate only the trendiest, most visually striking photos and videos to create the perfect IG feed design.

The app is also home to one of the biggest influencer cultures in any social platform. Here, influencers thrive thanks to brand opportunities and paid partnerships left and right. These creators make tons of money from making beautiful user-generated content promoting the hottest lifestyle brands.

Other features on the platform include:

  • Reels: Short-form, vertical video content that has its tab on the app.
  • Shops: Where people can buy products straight from the app and tag them in their content, too.
  • Stories: Candid videos that expire after 24 hours.
  • Live: Streaming sessions where creators can talk to their followers in real-time.
  • Direct messages: People can send each other “DMs” to talk on the platform’s in-app messaging feature.

Someone holding a phone with a pretty, aesthetically appealing Instagram feed on the screen.

4. X Platform: The Rise and Rebrand of X, Formerly Twitter

Since its creation in 2006, Twitter has been an awesome text-based platform for sharing thoughts, news, and stories. In 2022, Elon Musk bought the platform. One year later, he rebranded it to X. Thankfully, the platform’s concept stayed the same.

Because X is in the business of short-form, text-based content, it’s an amazing source of news and current events. The app has “trending topics” at any time that tell users what issues and events are currently making waves online.

It’s also a place of public online discourse. Anyone can jump in and “tweet” their thoughts on something, no matter how trivial. It’s a great platform for verbalizing your opinions and putting them into words for others to read.

Every user on X has a timeline where they see the tweets of people they follow. They can “heart” tweets they like and even “retweet” those they want on their profiles. When talking to specific users, people can “mention” them using the @ symbol for fast, direct, concise communication.

Fun fact: Twitter is the birthplace of the hashtag. That’s incredibly cool, given that most, if not all, platforms use it as a tool for their own apps!

A laptop with the black and white X logo on the screen.

5. Reddit: The Popular Crowdsourced Forum

Another platform people often use to voice out quite literally any thought they have is Reddit. This popular online forum was founded in 2005. Today, users share movie reviews, funny anecdotes, relationship advice, current events, pop culture moments, and anything else under the sun.

At present, it has hundreds of thousands of “subreddits,” aka smaller forums categorized into specific topics. Popular ones include r/Science, r/todayilearned, r/funny, and more. Whatever you want to talk about online, you will most likely find a subreddit dedicated to it. In these forums, anyone can participate and pitch in their two cents. That makes the forum’s community discussions incredibly diverse and well-informed.

A close-up shot of the Reddit app icon on an iPhone screen.

6. LinkedIn: The Career-Oriented Professional’s Favorite Social Network

Who says career-focused professionals who want to climb the corporate ladder can’t enjoy social media?

LinkedIn is a terrific professional networking platform founded in 2022. Its main purpose is to help people expand their network of contacts to further their careers or grow their businesses. That way, you can meet people within your industry who are interested in collaborating and working together.

Instead of a personal profile, each user on the platform has their resumé. Here, you can boast about your education and work experience. Recruiters who stumble upon your profile can reach out to you and discuss awesome career opportunities.

Instead of providing aesthetic posts and life updates, LinkedIn’s content centers on career development tips and think pieces. It’s perfect for anyone trying to make it big in their company or industry!

An iPhone screen displaying LinkedIn’s company profile on the platform.

7. Pinterest: For Creating Mood Boards and Finding Inspiration

Pinterest is one of the best social networking platforms for finding inspiration. This platform is amazing for discovering all kinds of things you enjoy.

Every user on the platform gets a “board” where they can “pin” cool content they see according to various themes. You can make boards for hobbies and personal projects, like fashion ideas, home décor inspo, and even wedding mood boards!

While Instagram is still the king of lifestyle content, Pinterest actually has a huge influence on trends, too. Many people look for makeup, travel, fashion, design, and food inspo here first and then incorporate those ideas into their lifestyle. Then, the trickle-down effect happens. When they become super popular, they become full-blown trends that take the internet by storm.

A close-up photo of the Pinterest app icon with two notifications on a smartphone.

8. TikTok: The Trendy, Gen Z Fave

There’s nothing quite like the rise of what some might argue is the biggest social platform today—TikTok. This young app started as back in 2016 and then rebranded to its current name in 2018.

In recent years, the platform skyrocketed and quickly became one of the most popular social media platforms for teens. Its user base — led by Gen Z — creates user-generated content in the form of short-form videos. These clips range from funny videos, dance challenges, informational clips, tutorials, music recs, and more.

What’s awesome about the app is that it has easy-to-use editing tools. That way, anyone can record and edit videos they want to use on the platform. Basically, anyone can express themselves creatively and live out their influencer and vlogger dreams on the platform!

Another cool thing about the app is that everyone has a “For You” page. Here, the algorithm recommends videos (aka TikToks) you might find interesting based on content you’ve liked before. This feature is amazing for increasing dwell time on the app.

Someone holding a smartphone with the TikTok logo on its screen.

9. WhatsApp: The Social Messaging App

WhatsApp is a Meta-owned messaging platform that lets people send texts, voice messages, and media to others. You can also create group chats to communicate with friend groups, family, people from your class at school, and more. You can even make voice and video calls on the app, making it a proper text-and-call platform.

The app features end-to-end encryption of every message sent through the platform. That means only those within a chat can see the messages sent back and forth. With this layer of security, you don’t have to worry about third parties reading through and tampering with your messages.

Someone holding a phone with the WhatsApp logo on the screen against a teal background.

10. Snapchat: Great for Sending Fun, Private Photos and Videos to Friends

Last, we have Snapchat. This platform is a bit old-school now, but it was once one of the most popular social apps.

The app allows people to send private photos, videos, and messages to everyone through “Snaps”. You can also post them on your “Story,” where your friends can see your content for 24 hours. 

Fun fact: Snaps was the inspiration behind IG’s Stories feature.

One of the best things about Snapchat is its innovative augmented reality filters, which you can use in your Snaps. This is an awesome way to spruce up your otherwise boring videos and photos. We wouldn’t be surprised if this is also where IG drew inspiration from their filters!

An iPad showing the Snapchat app in the App Store.

What’s the Best Social Media Platform of Them All?

It’s difficult to say that one social media site is better than the rest. Each one addresses a specific type of social media user. So, the “best” one per se depends on each person’s preferences and needs.

For example, those who want to connect with friends and family might find Facebook and WhatsApp most useful. Lovers of fashion, food, travel, and other lifestyle niches will enjoy IG and Pinterest best. Those focused on their careers may believe LinkedIn is the best for them, and so on. It all depends on what you need to gain from social media.

Are you not sure which platform you want to be most active on? Reflect on what you truly want and need out of the digital world. Then, come back to our rundown of each platform to see which will help you meet those desires.

Take Your Social Media Presence To the Next Level, Starting With Instagram

Every top social media network has a special role to play in the digital ecosystem. Some, like YouTube and TikTok, act as video-sharing platforms. Meanwhile, people love going on Twitter and Reddit to share their thoughts and opinions. The likes of Facebook and Instagram, on the other hand, connect friends.

If you want to strengthen your digital presence, it’s ideal to be active on many of these social media sites. But it’s better to concentrate on growing your presence in one platform and work your way up. We recommend building a community on one of the most popular social media apps, like Instagram. And for that, Path Social will be your BFF.

Path Social is one of the best tools you can use to grow your Instagram page fast. We use AI to find your target audience and promote your content for them to see. That makes it easier for your potential fans to discover your page, allowing you to grow quickly. The best part? All the followers you get from our promotion methods are 100% real, never fake. So, become huge on social media and gain more IG followers today with our help!