Our compilation of the latest social media statistics of consumer adoption and usage of social networking platforms
Social networks have transformed marketing and, as this post shows, their popularity is still growing in our latest global social media statistics research summary for 2023.
Networks vary in popularity with different demographics and they're still evolving. Research by Global WebIndex that we reference in this article shows that globally,
59% of the world's population uses social media. The average daily usage is 2 hours and 31 minutes (January 2023).
We'll keep this post updated during 2023 as the latest statistics are published drawing on our recommended top 10 digital marketing statistics sources. We'll be pointing to new data on the popularity of social media from Global Web Index (worldwide), Pew Internet Surveys (US) and OfCom (UK), and most recently the Datareportal January 2023 global overview.
This post will apply the latest reports to our answers in 7 key areas crucial to understanding consumer use of social networks:
- Q1. What is the overall popularity of social media compared to internet use globally?
- Q2. Which are the most popular social networks by demographics (age and gender)?
- Q3. Which are the fastest-growing social networks?
- Q4. How do social users interact with brands when selecting products and services?
- Q5. What are the different engagement metrics based on consumer behavior when using social media?
- Q6. How do consumers interact with different post formats in social media?
- Q7. What are the most popular times for consumers to use social media suggesting the best times to post?
Now more than ever, marketers need to make smart decisions when planning their digital distribution channels. So reviewing the latest social media diffusion and usage stats is a crucial part of any company's digital marketing strategy.
If you're looking for a new data-driven approach to planning your digital marketing strategy, why not download our free RACE Growth System template?
Q1. What is the overall popularity of social media compared to internet use globally?
Datareportal regularly updates its massive global compendium of social media statistics, which gives some great insights into the world of social media. It's a great download for including slides for your presentations.
How many people use social media?
As per the Datareportal January 2023 global overview we can see that social media growth has continued to increase:
- More than half of the world now uses social media (59%)
- 4.76 billion people around the world now use social media, 137 million new users have come online within the last 12 months
- The average daily time spent using social media is 2h 31m.
The full report from Datareportal contains a huge amount of insight collated from different data providers across 200+ 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. In this post, we focus on the social media data which starts at slide 160 in the report.
This chart, by Datareportal, summarises the importance and growth of social media today.
Post-pandemic marketing update
In addition to business as usual, a special report by Datareportal in July 2020, examines changes in social media usage during the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown period. Notably a monumental increase in online and digital activities.
The increase came after a couple of years where growth had seemed to slow down, this behavior was attributed to changes in user behavior due to the lockdown. However, with growth continuing in 2023, there may be more at play than just the initial lockdown trends.
Q2. Which are the most popular social networks by demographics (age and gender)?
The best source for getting stats on the biggest social media platforms is direct from company statements and earning announcements.
Notably, of the top 4 social media platforms, 3 are owned by Meta. Facebook is the most-used platform in total - but as marketers, we know it's crucial to consider different trends of usage for different demographics, as we'll see below.
The rapid growth TikTok underwent in 2021 (resulting in a 142% increase YOY) saw it ranked the sixth most-used platform for the first time in July 2022. In January 2023 that remains the case.
With Elon Musk's proposed acquisition of Twitter we can expect changes to the platform including how Twitter regulates/empowers freedom of speech values for consumers and businesses.
So, what does this mean for your social media marketing strategy? Clearly, there are lots of opportunities to reach, interact with, convert and engage social media users across a wide number of channels, each with different features.
Don't forget you can use our free RACE Growth System template to identify digital priorities across targeted social media marketing to your identified target markets, through their favorite social media channels. You can find out more about the biggest social media channels in the breakdown below:
Global Facebook demographics
Since it is still the top dog, I'll share the Facebook demographics from Sprout Social Media's 2022 report. But you can get this breakdown for each channel and more in the report. This report was last updated in March 2022.
As we can see, from the Facebook data, the biggest demographic on Facebook is males aged 25-34. For females also this age range represents the largest user pool.
United States Social network popularity
The Pew Research Center news usage research is a very strong recent source showing US social media statistics trends in usage for news. Interestingly, nearly half of those surveyed in 2021 used social media to get news often or sometimes.
More interestingly, the stats breakdown below shows which social media channels are used by which genders, ages, education level, race, and political affiliations. For example, Facebook is a regular source of news to nearly double the amount of women to men. Nearly two thirds of Snapchat's regular news consumers are aged 18-29.
The 2021 Children and parents: media use and attitudes report published by OfCom (UK) is interesting if your business is involved in marketing to children or youth markets or you want to understand future adult use of social media. Notably, 44% of 8-11 year olds use social media apps/sites, swiftly increasing to 87% of 12-15 year olds.
Here's a snapshot of two of the four age groups featured.
Structure your marketing plan around a funnel proven to boost performance. Join Smart Insights as a Free Member for instant access to our RACE Growth System guide to hone your skills and drive the results you need.
Q3. Which are the fast-growing social networks?
Every marketer has limited time for social media marketing, so which fastest growing social network should you focus your efforts on?
The fastest growing social media network in 2021 was TikTok, with 18.3% YOY growth, over 87.1% growth in 2020, as measured by US Social Network User Growth.
With the 'Rise of Social media' interactive tool from 'Our World in Data' you can see the growth of the main networks between 2004 (when Myspace became the first platform to gain 1 million users) up to the end of 2019.
A summary of global social media growth
The number of social media users globally grew from 4.2 billion in January 2021 to 4.62 billion in January 2022. This accounts for a 10.1% growth YOY of global social media usage. In comparison, January 2023 saw a modest 3% growth of +137 million users.
Social media vs internet users: opportunities for growth
This chart shows the total number of Internet users as of January 2023. Whilst 64.4% of the world's population are internet users, 5% of those are still not active social media users.
Social media platforms today are evolving and developing to meet an ever-wider variety of consumer wants and needs. Surely the value that social media usage can add to consumers' lives is more evident than ever before - social media marketers can tap into that.
2023 analysis of regional use of social media shows the wide variation of social media penetration:
- 72% in Eastern Asia
- 74% in North America
- 72% in Southern America
- 84% in both Northern and Western Europe.
- This falls to 41% in Southern Asia, 13% in Western Africa, and 7% in Middle Africa.
As you can see, the makeup of our international social media users is varied. This useful infographic demonstrates the share of global social media users - with Eastern Asia representing 27.7% of global social media users.
Q4. How do social users interact with brands when selecting products and services?
One of the challenges of social media marketing is that by its nature, social media are peer-to-peer, involving conversations between friends, families and colleagues. Given this, brands must be sensitive to how they use social media.
The research from GlobalWebIndex in their social media trends 2021 report shows how/why visitors use different social media services. Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, Reddit and Twitter users all report 'follow/find information about products/brands' in their top 3 motivations.
Platform-specific social media marketing planning
Our new Organic Social Media Learning Path modules (released May 2022) are dedicated to helping marketers optimize their organic Instagram marketing with a strategic approach, integrated across the marketing funnel.
Our bite-sized modules contain tools and templates designed to help you address the systematic issue of businesses using social media platforms to create standalone posts rather than planning a strategy.
Our Social Media Learning Path has modules with dedicated help for:
This example plan, taken from our Facebook module, demonstrates how a joined-up approach can strengthen each stage of the funnel, across the RACE Framework of reach, act, convert, and engage.
Optimize your organic Instagram marketing
Part of the Social media marketing Toolkit
Discover the latest tips and tactics to reach, engage and convert your customers through organic Instagram marketingLearn More
Q5. What are the best benchmarks for different platforms' engagement rates?
Social media statistics benchmarking tool Rival IQ produces these useful sector-by-sector benchmarks of social media engagement metrics including:
- Posts per day
- Posts per week
- Engagement rate
- Top hashtags by engagement rate
These include useful sector benchmarks for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter you can compare against. Here is a sample of the insights from their 2022 report.
Facebook engagement rates
The 2021 median average engagement rate per post (by follower) on Facebook is 0.064%, across all industries. Sports Teams see the highest engagement, achieving an average of 0.27%, followed by Influencers with 0.23% and Higher Education with 0.15%.
At the lower end of the spectrum, Health & Beauty, and Tech & Software receive an average 0.02% engagement rate.
Instagram engagement rates
Engagement rates are significantly higher on Instagram compared to Facebook. As you can see the 2021 average median engagement rate per post (by follower) is more than 10x higher, despite engagement on Instagram dropping approx 30% between 2020-21.
Q6. How do consumers interact with different post formats in social media?
Marketers know intuitively that the right type of visuals and videos are more effective in gaining engagement.
This is supported by observed interaction rates. According to LinkedIn, Images typically result in a 2x higher comment rate and Video gets 5x more engagement on LinkedIn, Live Video gets 24x more.
This is also supported by this data from this Social Bakers social media trends report:
Videos longer than a minute achieved the highest median interactions and median reach on Facebook, according to Socialbakers data.
In fact, for both reach and interactions, there was a correlation that showed the longer a video was, the further it reached and the more interactions it received.
Socialbakers’ metrics for video length are very short (less than 11.882 seconds), short (more than 11.882 and less than 24.362 seconds), medium (more than 24.362 and less than 61.248 seconds), long (more than 61.248 seconds and less than five minutes), and very long (more than five minutes).
Q7. What are the most popular times for consumers to use social media suggesting the best times to post?
Testing different frequency of updates and timing is another aspect of social media optimization based on consumer behaviour.
Each network tends to have a ‘sweet spot’ for frequency based on their algorithms. It used to be beneficial to post several times a day on Facebook for many brands, but with decrease organic reach, a single update tends to be more effective. We find a higher frequency on LinkedIn or Twitter tends to be more effective.
Sprout Social's 2022 social media strategy builder compares the best times to post on social media. Compare these to your patterns of posting and consider how you could post differently.
Each network tends to have a ‘sweet spot’ for frequency based on their algorithm and the most common times for consumer usage. It used to be beneficial to post several times a day on Facebook for many brands, but with decreased organic reach, a single update tends to be more effective.
We find a higher frequency on LinkedIn or Twitter tends to be more effective. The results from Instagram and Facebook show a clear preference for around midweek at midday, so you should consider this when scheduling your post updates.