App Consumption: When you’re most likely to go viral on social media

In 2020/21, TikTok was the most downloaded app in the world, with over 1.158,000,000 downloads. This was followed by WhatsApp Messenger, at 845,500,000, and Facebook, at 825,500,000. As it was the year of lockdown, this is no surprise. After all, if you weren’t video calling your family and doing zoom quizzes with your friends, you were perfecting your TikTok dance techniques.

But, which app is the favourite amongst the great British population? And which city is the most obsessed with social media, and the idea of going viral? We surveyed the country so that you can discover this and more here.

Facebook is the most popular app in the UK

With 68% of Brits checking up on their friends and family every day, Facebook is the most-used daily app in the UK, followed by Instagram and TikTok.

People are most likely to use and post on Instagram and Facebook between 4.30-6.30pm, as soon as they’ve finished work, whereas people are most active on TikTok after 9pm.

But what’s perhaps most surprising, is that Facebook has come out on top as the most popular app in the UK, with 50% of people saying it’s their favourite. With TikTok dances becoming the star of the show during lockdown, you’d probably expect it to emerge as the winner, but only 11% of people said it was their favourite app – although its popularity has increased by over 100% in the space of a year.

Facebook continues to be popular amongst the older generation, with 75% of those aged 55+ heading over to the site every day. In contrast, every other app is favoured by younger people, with those aged between 25-34 spending the most time browsing TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat every day.

Sheffield is the social media hotspot of the UK

Whilst as a nation, we’re pretty obsessed with social media, one city takes the crown – and that goes to Sheffield, with 61.5% of the population logging onto their favourite apps at least once a day.

Birmingham and Glasgow follow close behind, in second and third place.

Top tips for going viral on Instagram

So, you’ve spent hours taking and editing the perfect selfie, or you’ve captured an aesthetic image of your #matchalatte, and now you’re sat there patiently waiting for the likes to roll in?

Whilst we can’t all be influencers, there are things you can do to try and get your picture in front of as many eyes as possible and give it the best possible chance of going viral.

1. Create your own aesthetic

To go viral, you should try and grow your own following first. Head on over to your favourite influencers’ grids and see what you like the most about them. You might think that they post whatever picture looks best, but you’ll see there’s definitely a cohesion between all of them – for example, they may use the same filter, or all of their images may be the same shades.

Take all of the aspects you like from each grid and turn it into your own unique look. By not trying to be like anyone else, you’re already partway there in growing your own following, and increasing your chances of going viral.

2. Engage with other content

Whilst getting comments and likes on your own posts are great, you’ll end up limited if you don’t give the same love to others. Start building up a connection with other accounts where you can support each other – just make sure that you put some thought into your comments. A simple thumbs up or a flame emoji could leave Instagram thinking you’re a bot.

3. Use analytics to your advantage

If you’re serious about going viral on Instagram, you need to understand when your followers are online and engaging with you, and which type of content performs best. That way, you can schedule posts at times when you get the most engagement, to encourage your post to go viral.

Top tips for going viral on TikTok

If your aim is to go viral on TikTok, then there are slightly different rules to Instagram. Follow these three steps, and with a bit of patience, you might just get lucky.

1. Keep your clips short

Our attention spans aren’t long, and TikTok evaluates the quality of your video by assessing the average length of time watching it, and the total length – so keep it short to get the length of time higher.

2. Play trending music

Whilst we’d always recommend doing a voiceover as it helps TikTok to understand exactly what your video is about, to increase your chances of going viral, you should also use a popular song or sound on TikTok right now – play it quietly so you can put the voiceover over it.

3. Reply to your comments

Take the time to reply to all of the comments you receive – it’ll make your followers more likely to respond to videos in future. Just try to avoid replying too quickly – otherwise TikTok can block you for 24 hours from commenting.

So, now you know the best way to go viral, it’s time to put these tips into action.

Brought to you by the broadband experts at


Following the data of 2020/2021’s most downloaded apps from Sensor Tower for Q1 2020, Q2 2020, Q3 2020, Q4 2020, and Q1 2021, we conducted a survey to reveal Brits’ social media behaviours, how this differs by age group and city, as well as determining which apps out of TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat they favour the most.

Answers were taken from 1,000 UK social media users via TLF in June 2021.