Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

How U.S. Adults Use TikTok

Around half of adult TikTok users in the U.S. have never posted a video themselves. And a minority of users produce the vast majority of content

Around half of adult TikTok users in the U.S. have never posted a video themselves. And a minority of users produce the vast majority of content

An image of someone using the TikTok app on their smartphone
(Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)
How we did this

Pew Research Center conducted this study to gain insight into TikTok users’ views of and behaviors on the site, as well as how those opinions might vary based on their posting activity. To conduct this analysis, we surveyed 2,745 U.S. adult TikTok users in August 2023. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP) – an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses – and indicated that they use TikTok.

869 of these respondents volunteered a valid TikTok handle (their unique username preceded by an “@” sign) for research purposes. This allowed us to analyze their actual (observed) behaviors on the platform and compare them with their responses to the survey.

Here are the questions used for the report, along with responses, and its methodology.

A new Pew Research Center study matching the survey responses and on-site behaviors of U.S. adult TikTok users finds that a minority of avid posters create the vast majority of content on the site. And most users post seldom, if at all – instead using TikTok primarily to view and consume content made by others.

These findings come at a time when one-third of U.S. adults say they use the site and a growing share get news there. Among our key findings about how the American public is using TikTok:

A small share of users are responsible for producing the majority of TikTok content. The top 25% of U.S. adults on TikTok by posting volume produce 98% of all publicly accessible videos from this group. This is in line with the Center’s previous research on Twitter users, which found a similar ratio of highly active users creating the majority of content on the platform.

The typical TikTok user posts seldom, if ever. About half of all U.S. adults on the site have never posted a video themselves. And the typical user has not added any information to the “bio” field on their account.

A chart showing that The most active 25% of U.S. adult TikTok users produce 98% of public content

The posting behaviors of younger adults do not stand out dramatically from other age groups. Users ages 18 to 34 are much more likely than their older counterparts to use TikTok in the first place. But around half of these younger users have ever posted on the site – similar to the share among users ages 35 to 49.

Users who have posted videos on TikTok are more active on the platform in general than non-posters. Posters typically follow more users, have more followers themselves, are more likely to have filled out their account bio and are somewhat more likely to find the content of their “For You” page extremely interesting.

TikTok users are more likely than not to find their “For You” page interesting. TikTok is defined by its algorithmically curated “For You” page, and users generally like the content the algorithm serves them. Some 40% of users say this content is either extremely or very interesting to them, far more than the 14% in total who say it is not too or not at all interesting.

The study began with a survey conducted in August 2023 of 2,745 U.S. adult TikTok users. It includes direct observation of the accounts and posting behavior of 869 respondents who volunteered to share their account handle for research purposes.

All these accounts – regardless of their privacy settings – contained basic account metadata. This includes their bio and display name fields, counts of followers and followed accounts, and the total number of “likes” the user had received on any videos they posted. For accounts set to public, we were also able to observe any public videos posted to the account to get a better understanding of adult TikTok users’ posting behavior.

Related:

Who posts videos to TikTok

A dot plot showing that about half of TikTok users have ever posted a video

Around half (52%) of U.S. adults on TikTok have ever posted a video on the platform.1 And although there are substantial differences in which groups of Americans use TikTok in the first place, there are only modest differences in the posting behavior of users based on their demographic characteristics. Notably, there are no significant differences in the share of users who have posted on the site based on gender, political affiliation or educational attainment.

TikTok use is especially prevalent among younger adults – 56% of all U.S. adults ages 18 to 34 say they use the platform. But 52% of users in this age group have posted a video to their account. That is identical to the average among users overall, and similar to the share of users ages 35 to 49 who have ever posted.

A minority of users produce the majority of TikTok content from U.S. adults

While about half of U.S. adult TikTok users have ever posted a video at all, an even smaller share – 40% – have posted videos that are publicly visible. As a result, a relatively small share of users produce the vast majority of content that appears on the platform.2

The typical TikTok user does not customize their bio

A wireframe of a TikTok profile showing that the median user follows 154 accounts, but has just 36 followers

TikTok users do not tend to present a detailed profile of themselves on their accounts.

Although 70% of users have changed their account nickname from the site-provided default, an identical share have not added any information to the “bio” field on their account. The median U.S. adult user follows 154 other accounts but has just 36 accounts who follow them – and has received no likes from other users.

How posters differ from non-posters in their use of TikTok

A table showing that Users who post content to TikTok are more active in other ways as well

TikTok users who post on the platform differ from non-posters in several important ways. Those who have ever posted a video are nearly five times as likely to have customized the bio field on their profile. They are also a bit more likely to have updated their account nickname from its default.

Posters also engage with a lot more other accounts on TikTok: A typical (median) poster follows nearly four times as many other accounts as someone who doesn’t post, and they have more followers as well. While it’s true that a small share of U.S. adults on TikTok are highly prolific, not everyone who posts videos does this a lot. The median poster has put up a total of six public videos in the life of their accounts and received a total of 149 likes in return.

What TikTok users think of their ‘For You’ page

Some 85% of TikTok users say the content on their “For You” page is at least somewhat interesting, including 40% who call it either extremely or very interesting. Only 14% say it is not too or not at all interesting.

Younger users are especially interested in the content they see on the platform. Some 47% of users ages 18 to 34 say they find the videos on their “For You” page either extremely or very interesting, compared with 36% of users ages 35 to 49 and 31% of those 50 or older.

There are only modest differences on this question based on other demographic factors like gender, political affiliation or educational attainment. Similar shares of posters and non-posters find the “For You” page at least very interesting.

A bar chart showing that 4 in 10 TikTok users find their ‘For You’ page extremely or very interesting

But posters are slightly more likely to report the highest level of interest in the material that TikTok’s content algorithm suggests to them. Some 17% of these users say they find the content of their “For You” page extremely interesting, compared with 11% of non-posters.

  1. On TikTok, videos can be listed either publicly or privately, but total “like” counts for the whole account are public, even if associated videos are private. Therefore, we consider an account to have posted content if there are any public videos on the account, or if the account is set to private but there are likes recorded on the account.
  2. Due to the privacy settings of some accounts, we could only count videos that were publicly listed on TikTok in this analysis.

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