Since its early inception in the late 90s, social media has become a constant presence in the digital landscape. Regardless of their geographic location and demographic, people worldwide are connected through their social media usage.
But how many social media users are there, and which social media platforms do they gravitate towards?
Whether you want to create a social media marketing strategy or are just interested in social media statistics, we have the answers you're looking for.
Social media is a broad term encompassing a range of online platforms and applications that allow internet users to connect, communicate, and share content in a community environment.
These platforms are characterized by user-generated content and the ability for users to interact with each other in a multitude of ways – from liking, commenting, and sharing posts to direct messaging.
A social media site can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including personal networking, business promotion, educational endeavors, activism, and entertainment.
Some of the most popular social media platforms today include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Snapchat. These platforms facilitate instantaneous sharing of ideas, news, and multimedia content, creating an interconnected web of digital communities.
However, as much as they offer opportunities for connection, they also raise concerns about privacy and misinformation, underscoring the need for responsible usage and critical consumption of content.
Today, social media plays a crucial role in our everyday lives, providing unprecedented opportunities for communication, information sharing, and community building.
Its importance can be seen in several areas:
Social media allows individuals to maintain personal connections and establish new ones irrespective of geographical distances. It fosters both personal relationships and professional networking.
Did you know? The average social media user sends approximately 72 messages each day!
Information and Awareness
As internet users, social media has become a primary source of news, public health updates, and consumer information. This can enhance public awareness and foster informed discussions on a global scale.
Marketing and Business Growth
Social media has proven to be an invaluable marketing tool that allows businesses to engage with global social media users. These sites provide businesses a platform for advertising, customer feedback, and brand building.
Social Movements and Advocacy
Social media empowers individuals and groups to disseminate their causes, rally support, and effect change.
1997: The first recognizable social media site, Six Degrees, was created. It allowed users to create a profile and make friends with other users.
2002: Friendster was launched as a social networking site in the U.S before Facebook, which inspired the social media platforms we know today.
2003: LinkedIn and MySpace were launched.
2004: Facebook was launched. Originally called "The Facebook", it was initially limited to Harvard university students but later expanded to other universities and eventually to the public.
2005: YouTube was launched, creating a new platform for users to share and view videos.
2006: Twitter was launched, introducing the concept of "microblogging", allowing users to post short updates.
2007: The introduction of the iPhone helped drive the growth of social media mobile applications.
2008: Facebook surpassed MySpace in popularity.
2010: Instagram and Pinterest were launched.
2011: Google+ was launched.
2012: Facebook reached 1 billion users.
2013: Vine, the six-second looping video platform was launched, which was later discontinued in 2016.
2016: TikTok, a video-sharing social networking service owned by Chinese company ByteDance was launched internationally. It had originally been launched as Douyin for the Chinese market in September 2016.
2020: Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, social media usage surged as people around the world were confined to their homes.
A social media user is anyone who utilizes internet-based applications designed for creating and sharing content or participating in social networking.
This user group includes individuals of diverse age ranges, from teenagers to the elderly, all of whom are involved in creating, sharing, and exchanging information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.
They engage with platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok, and many others.
Active social media users may log in to a platform daily, though a user's participation can vary greatly from occasional use to multiple daily logins, and their activities range from personal interactions, such as sharing photos and updates with friends, to professional networking or brand promotion.
Importantly, a social media user is not restricted by geographic location, socioeconomic status, or profession - if an individual has internet access and the digital literacy to navigate these platforms, they can be considered a social media user.
The current global social media landscape is always shifting, and statistics from today may not be relevant days, weeks, or months from now.
However, we've put together some helpful statistics to get you started on your social media journey.
Note: The following statistics are based on information available at the time of writing this blog post.
Total Number of Social Media Users Worldwide
As of 2023, there is a reported total of 4.80 billion social media users worldwide. That's 59.9% of the total global population!
Breakdown By Age Groups
Millenials and Gen Z are the most active demographics on social media, but older users aren't uncommon - especially on platforms like Facebook and twitter.
Of these 4.80 billion social media users, an estimated 46.5% of users identify as female, with 53.5% of users identifying as male.
Active Users By Region
As of 2023, China ranks number one as the country with the most social media users with an estimated 1.02 billion users.
India comes in second with 755.4 million, followed by the USA with 302.25 million users.
Did you know? The average social media user spends 2 hours and 35 minutes per day on social media?
Facebook has over 2.98 billion monthly active users worldwide, making it the largest social network.
Its user base is diverse, spanning all age groups, but with a slight lean towards the 25-34 year old demographic. It's used for personal socializing, business marketing, and community building.
YouTube, with over 2.1 billion logged-in users monthly, has a wide demographic reach as it serves as a platform for sharing and viewing videos across a multitude of topics.
It's used by individuals, influencers, and businesses alike, and its user base spans all ages, with slight predominance of 15-25 year olds.
TikTok experienced explosive growth in recent years, and currently boasts over 1.6 billion users. The majority of TikTok users are under 30. The platform is built around short, creative videos, often set to music.
Instagram, owned by Facebook, boasts over a billion users, with a particular popularity among younger generations - the 18-29 demographic constitutes its primary user base.
It's a platform for sharing photos and videos, and is heavily used by influencers, creatives, and businesses for brand building.
LinkedIn has over 930 million users, primarily composed of professionals, job seekers, and businesses. The platform's user base is somewhat older and more career-oriented than most other social networks, with a focus on professional networking and industry discussions.
Twitter has over 450 million active users, with a user base that's largely younger, tech-savvy, and politically aware. It's known for real-time updates, news dissemination, and public discourse.
Snapchat, with nearly 363 million daily active users, appeals largely to younger audiences, particularly those under 25. It's primarily used for sharing ephemeral, or temporary, photos and videos, with a strong focus on fun and creativity.
Trends among internet users have changed vastly in the last two decades, and these changes can tell us a lot - not only about the current social media landscape, but about how individuals work, create, and think.
Social media growth between platforms shows us what types of content internet users prefer to receive their information through, and what to expect in the future from social media worldwide.
As social media evolves, we see an increase in certain trends across all platforms. This includes the rise of video content, increased use of augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence (AI) integration, influencer marketing, and more emphasis on privacy and security.
Rise of Video Content
The use of video content is rising rapidly across all social media platforms, with particular focus on short-form videos and livestreaming. Platforms like TikTok and YouTube Shorts take the lead in this trend, that shows no sign of slowing down.
Increased Use of AR & VR
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are being increasingly incorporated into social media platforms for enhanced user experience. Snapchat has recently launched AR enhancements to its users.
AI and machine learning are seeing an increase in popularity as a way to personalize user experiences, filter content, and improve ad targeting. This trend has received mix reviews, and is considered controversial by many.
As the reign of the influencer continues, platforms have worked to integrate additional features to help influencers connect with their audience, promote products, and create new types of content.
Privacy & Security
Growing concerns about privacy and data security have led to additional features and regulations across many popular platforms, particularly Facebook (Meta), TikTok, and Twitter.
Rise of E-Commerce on Social Media
More social media platforms have opted to integrate e-commerce capabilities, allowing users to make direct purchases without having to leave the app. TikTok has been the latest platform to add such features.
Stories and Fleets
Ephemeral, short-term content like Instagram Stories are increasing in popularity, and more platforms than ever have begun offering these features to their users.
Social media platforms rise and fall, meaning there's always something new to try. Keep an eye on these emerging social media platforms - they might just become the next big thing!
Marketed as a combination of Instagram and Pinterest, Lemon8 focuses on showcasing products and has become a popular social media platform for influencer marketing.
BeReal sends users a notification at a random time throughout the day. Once received, users have 2 minutes to take a photo from both their front and back cameras and must then share it with friends.
An invitation-only social app featuring "rooms" where users can discuss various topics via audio chat. Due to its invite only status, Clubhouse has garnered intrigue.
Dispo is a photo-sharing app that focuses on 'living in the moment', allowing users to snap images with a disposable camera type interface. Users will then have to wait until 9am the following day to view the images, mimicking the delayed gratification of analog film.
Designed for professional networking, Lunchclub uses AI to match like-minded individuals for one-on-one video meetings.
Caffeine.tv is a social broadcasting platform with a focus on livestreaming gaming, entertainment, and the creative arts.
A lot has changed since the advent of social media in the late '90's. Here are a few of the most pertinent changes to keep an eye on:
As Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter gain popularity with an aging user base, platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, and Lemon8 have grown in popularity with users below age 30.
Social media usage has evolved significantly in non-western countries, leading to a more global userbase than ever before. Alternatives to banned apps like TikTok, such as SnackVideo in India, have made social media more accessible.
Certain platforms have also seen shifts in gender balance over time. Pinterest, for example, has traditionally had a predominantly female user base.
Increased Professional Presence
Platforms like LinkedIn have seen a boom in growth due to increased usage by professionals and businesses.
Diverse Cultural Representation
As social media expands globally, an increased representation of diverse cultures and communities has followed.
The democratization of the internet has led to a more diverse socioeconomic userbase across all social media platforms.