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Social networks are now so well established, that there are now a core 'top 5' social networks which doesn't change much from year-to-year. But, as we'll see in this post, the most popular social media sites vary a lot by level of usage in different countries and demographics. So understanding these differences in popularity of different social networks is really important when targeting specific audiences. When comparing the most popular social networks it's best to review them by active account usage, not just the number of user accounts. We'll also see in this summary that some social networks are growing more rapidly than others while some are now in decline.
We'll keep this post updated during 2017 as the latest statistics are published drawing on our recommended top 10 digital marketing statistics sources. We'll be pointing to new data around social media channel penetration in the US from Pew Internet, as well as interactions based on research by Trackmaven, but first, we present the answers to some of the key questions marketers should consider when deciding on how to invest their time in social media. Since it is still early in the year, many graphs will have to rely on stats from Q4 2016 until the stats for Q1 2017 a released.
This compilation of the most popular social networks worldwide prepared by Statista gives a clear picture with Facebook ruling supreme. This won't be a shock to anyone! With over 1,870 million active users, it holds an 18% market share, 7% more so than its closest competitor, the Facebook-owned, WhatsApp.
Following from this, we have predominantly APAC favoured platforms, with QQ (9%), WeChat (8%) and Qzone (7%) all with over 600 million active users, highlighting the array of offerings the APAC. We then see a cluster of predominantly western social media networks in Tumblr (6%), Instagram(4%) and Twitter (4%).
Among US users (the most advanced major market and thus a good bellwether for future global trends) Facebook is also retaining a huge lead on the competition. It actually increased it's penetration to 89% of US internet users, whilst Facebook-owned Instagram came 2nd with 32% penetration.
Every marketer has limited time for social media marketing, so which social network should you focus your efforts on? This compilation from Statista on the growth of Twitter shows how it compares to Facebook, WhatsApp and China's WeChat - it's clearly losing ground - sad since we love it!
Another factor which determines the time we put into social media marketing is the engagement of the audience. Here we again see the dominance of Facebook - it's also got the greatest engagement in time according to this insight from the US consumer panel from comScore.
comScore has also published a more recent update on engagement in the UK comparing Facebook vs Twitter vs Instagram vs Pinterest vs Snapchat.
The above chart from Comscore shows engagement in terms of time spent on the platform vs reach among the millennial demographic. It's interesting to see how effectively Facebook dominates, but also interesting to see how well Snapchat and Instagram are doing in terms monthly usage per visitor. For more Snapchat stats, see our post on Snapchat Marketing Statistics.
Facebook's dominance is truly extraordinary. Not only does it take the top spot, it's other platforms also take 2nd and 3rd respectively. Facebook Messenger has an impressive 47 penetration, and Instagram (also owned by Facebook) comes 2nd for engagement.
In this recent chart from Pew Internet below, we can see in terms of active daily use Facebook is also in the lead. 76% of users log in daily, whilst 51% do for Instagram (owned by Facebook). Twitter manages just 42% of users login in daily, only just over half the Facebook figure.
TrackMaven analysed 51 million posts from 40,000 different companies over 130 industries to establish which social networks achieve the greatest engagement per follower. The results show that Instagram absolutely dominates when it comes to interactions per 1,000 followers. In fact, it is so much higher than the other channels we've had to include a second chart just to show the difference between Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter!
As you can see, Instagram dominates, but when it comes to the other networks Facebook has a considerable lead on Twitter and LinkedIn. This is in large part because people tend to post a lot more on Twitter because it doesn't have an algorithm that only serves posts to a small section of an audience. This has turned Twitter into a bit of fire hose of content where companies have to share more and more often to be heard through the noise. This has resulted in lower engagement per post.
We also want to highlight the great summary of social media and mobile stats from WeAreSocial Singapore, which is mainly extracted from GWI who they partner with.
For statistics on the social network usage and growth, we recommend Global Web Index (GWI) as one of the most reliable research sources of social media statistics to compare consumer use and engagement across different social networks. Research is conducted in quarterly waves, each of which has a global sample size of more than 40,000 internet users. Many other social media research programmes are no longer active. Although Global WebIndex is a paid subscription service, their blog provides useful insights on digital consumer behaviour and the Global Web Index Slideshare gives the latest top-level summaries which we share later in this compilation.
Each year, We Are Social update their massive global compendium of stats which gives some great insights into the world of social media. It's a great download for presentations. It's particularly interesting how far some countries are diverging in terms of social media use, and surprising that Western Countries are actually lagging a fair way behind in adoption rates.
Annual growth continues apace, particularly in the number of mobile social users, which hit 17% last year.
Asia-Pacific is driving much of this growth, which internet usage rates high and number of active social media users increasing 14% on the year before.
When looking at the world by number of internet users, it really rams home the importance of East Asian and South Asian markets. Digital offers new opportunities to reach these people, although as always cultural differences are considerable challenges to international marketers.
The full report from we are social contains a massive amount of data across 537 slides. It provides country-specific data for the vast majority of the world, so you might want to check out the slides of the countries in your core markets to get a better idea of the current state of social in the areas you operate.
US consumer technology adoption specialists Pew Research Center released a new set of data on US Social Media US on October 8th which shows the latest social media trends and how far it has permeated society. Looking at data from the past 10 years, it charts the meteoric rise of social media.
10 years ago on 7% of the US population used one or more social networking sites. Now that figure has increased almost tenfold, to 65%. Of those who use the internet a massive majority of 76% of American's use social media.
Social Media has grown massively, but it's growth is now starting to plateau. Interestingly the over 65s segment are now driving growth, as other age groups have plateaued completely and use is hardly growing it all. Among the 50-64 age cohort, use hasn't increased since 2013.
This is a great visualisation of the popularity of social networks based on the interviews in the GWI report. If you pick out your country it's probably way behind the countries in which these four core social networks are most popular. Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico, India and Brazil are in the top 10 for each with significantly higher levels of use than the US, UK and European countries.
This chart is striking for the similarity of usage across different age groups. It shows that the social networks are now at a stage of maturity where they give opportunities to reach all age and gender groups. The exceptions to this are Instagram and Tumblr which are clearly popular with younger age groups.
By Dave Chaffey
Dave is CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights. He is editor of the 100 templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ Digital Marketing experts. Our resources used by our Expert members in more than 80 countries to Map, Plan and Manage their digital marketing. For my full profile, or to connect on LinkedIn or other social networks, see the About Dave Chaffey profile page on Smart Insights. Dave is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Emarketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.
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