Reports Media & Marketing

Death of the town square Social fragmentation and a decentralised digital future

Report by Hanna Kahlert
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20,000 foot view: Social platforms have long ‘civilised’ the online world by providing common gathering grounds, but internal disruption and proliferating competition threaten this status quo. While the dominant players are unlikely to change substantially, competition, on-platform feature fragmentation, and algorithmic ‘filter bubbles’ will dilute social platforms’ common-ground value. This report dives into the shifting audience preferences for community, curation, and offline experiences that will put further pressure on cracks already forming – creating a landscape of increasingly fragmented audiences, both within platforms and between them.

Key data and insights included in this report: 

  • Analysis of the current marketplace of social media platforms
  • Weekly active user (WAU) penetration for social media platforms including Facebook, X, and Instagram
  • How fragmentation will affect legacy platforms and newer apps
  • Consumer behaviours around social media usage and cutting down on screen-time
  • What overlap there is between similar platforms such as TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts
  • Social media preferences by age group and platform

All survey data is this report is based on the MIDiA Research Q4 2023 Consumer survey, fielded in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Sweden, South Korea, and Brazil and Q1 2024 Consumer survey fielded in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Poland, Turkey, and South Africa. Data includes breakdowns by country, age, gender, social media platform usage, social video platform usage, and social media behaviours.

Table of contents:

Number of words: 3377

Number of pages: 15

Number of infographics: 3

Key insights

Figure 1: Audiences's digital hierarchy of (digital) needs

Figure 2: What the growing impact of fragmentation means for legacy platforms and the long-tail

Figure 3: As consumers look to reclaim time, where does this leave social media?


Companies and brands mentioned: BlueSky, ByteDance, Clubhouse, Discord, Facebook, Fizz Social, Instagram, Marketplace, Mastodon, Messenger, Meta, Reels, Shorts, Snapchat, Threads, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter, WhatsApp, X, YikYak, YouTube, and 20VC