Statista, Data Reportal, & eMarketer
Data Reportal estimates that there were 3.484 billion social media users worldwide in 2019, which is around 45% of the total 7.676 billion internet users all over the world. The number of social media users has grown 9.01% year-on-year (YoY) from 2018’s 3.196 billion, capping a ten-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.64% across a decade from 0.97 billion users in 2010.
Social media usage is so widespread across so many geographies across the globe that the busiest of social networks are churning out content on a massive scale in real time. On Twitter, for example, a total average of 500 million Tweets go out daily—that’s over 6,000 Tweets every second. The number of social media users generating this content is likewise staggering; on Facebook, for instance, there was an average 1.63 billion daily active users last September 2019.
This article explores the social media landscape primarily in terms of social media users, and will delve into the main categories below:
How many of the world’s population would be active in social media in the next five years to 2024?
Given the UN’s population growth estimates and predicting internet penetration rates based on historical trends, the total global social media users could potentially reach over 4.75 billion half a decade from now. That means nearly 6 out of every 10 people on the planet will have a social network account.
Statista, Data Reportal, eMarketer, and FinancesOnline market projection
That said, this forecast is limited, and does not take into account the already saturated internet penetration rates of advanced nations. Internet penetration rates continue to skyrocket in developing countries, and it is largely these new users coming online that will fuel the growth of social media use in the future. However, the pace of social media uptake among these populations will depend on other variables, such as gender disparity, perceived value, and access to technology.
What age uses social media the most? How much time do we spend on social media in 2019?
Chances are, you’re a young adult from America with several social media accounts primarily viewing videos on Youtube, sharing them on Facebook, and exchanging stories on Instagram. Social media users are typically 18- to 34-year-olds spending an average of 2 hours and 16 minutes daily on an average of 8.9 social network profiles, with Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram being the go-to online destinations. America—particularly North America—boasts the highest social media penetration rate at a 62.25% average across four geographic areas.
Now, while these figures (and the ones before) may seem astronomical, they’ve actually slowed down from previous record highs. Data Reportal reported that the growth of social media users has declined considerably from 2016 and 2017 at peaks of 21% and 14% YoY growth. If the current growth rate according to Data Reportal holds steady, there will be around 3.797 billion social media users by 2020, and over four billion by 2021.
More conservative estimates from Statista likewise paint a picture of sustained—albeit recently slowed—growth. From 2010 to 2019, there were massive YoY growth spurts of over 25% from 2010 to 2011 and over 20% from 2013 to 2014. According to Statista, the last few years have been hovering around 7% YoY growth, and if the trend continues, there will be nearly three billion users next year at over 2.9 billion social media users.
As mentioned before, America leads the pack when it comes to social media penetration rates (62.25%), with Africa on the other end of the spectrum (21%). In terms of individual geographical regions, however, Eastern Asia matches Northern America’s 70% social media penetration rate.
In terms of penetration rates by country, the UAE has a staggering 99% social media user penetration rate—nearly everyone in the population has a social media account! In fact, the majority of countries with the most impressive social media penetration rates listed below are above the global average (~45%).
Data ReportalDesigned by
A caveat, however, is that these figures are based on the total population per country, and not just the eligible (13-years and above) population. Accounting for data from different news and analyses, the social platforms themselves, and investor earnings announcements, a number of countries max out the social media penetration cap aside from the UAE, including Malaysia, the Philippines, and Taiwan.
Alright, so what do we use social media for?
Different geographies have different prevailing uses for social media, according to social media statistics collected by FinancesOnline. In the US, for example, social media is primarily used to connect with people (7 out of 10 users), while in Italy, social media is a major source of news (50% of the population get their news from social networks).
Of course, sharing experiences across our network of connections is still the primary function of social networks and platforms.
A breakdown of age and gender demographics give an interesting peek at social media user trends. For example, what age uses social media the most?
Starting from a general age of eligibility for opening a social media profile at 13 years old, and looking at profile demographics from some of the platforms of Facebook, the top social network in the world, it’s clear that 25- to 34 year-olds are the dominant age group, followed closely by the 18- to 24-year-olds. There’s a slight skew towards male users.
Social media statistics by FinancesOnline show that Millennials unsurprisingly are the most digitally connected, with 90.4% of the Millennial population in the US being active social media users, followed by 77.5% of Gen X-ers, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers.
How about how many teens use social media in 2019? Teenagers make up around 10% of the total social media population, but depending on the country, as much as 9 out of 10 teens may be on social media.
Teen to Young Adult (13 - 24 Year Olds)%
25-34 Year Olds%
35-44 Year Olds%
45-54 Year Olds%
Boomers (55+ Year Olds)%
Data ReportalDesigned by
Additionally, in the US, 35% of people aged 65 and older use social media, reflecting a 22% CAGR from 2005’s meager 2% penetration rate among seniors. As internet and social media use rises in the other geographic regions, it is likely they will undergo the same trend regarding social media use in this advanced age range.
Add to that the fact that today’s young adults raised on digital networks will be tomorrow’s elderly, then future generations will likely easily get ahold of that picture of that one time granny got wasted on a party and it became a viral meme on Reddit.
Now, what about gender disparity? Who uses social media more: male or female?
Some geographies lean a lot more towards specific sexes, like Ukraine and Yemen having the highest female and male user ratios the world over. Ukraine has 9.4 million female social media users—around 57% of the total eligible population in the country. Meanwhile, Yemen has 2 million male social media users, which means 3 out of every 4 Yemeni males of eligible age have social media accounts.
Interestingly, Facebook’s overall male-to-female ratio is nearly even.
It’s all about Facebook, regardless if you’re looking at social networks or social messenger apps. Facebook and its properties Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger are undoubtedly leaders in their fields, and Google—despite years of effort on platforms like Google Plus—still can’t break into the market except for its video platform Youtube, which has 1.9 billion users.
Facebook is the undisputed social media leader, both in terms of social networks and messengers. Facebook and Instagram lead the social network pack, though Youtube, arguably a social network and video platform hybrid, outstrips Instagram by around 900 million users.
Statista & Data Reportal
Meanwhile, WhatsApp and FB Messenger dominate the social messenger app landscape with 1.5 billion and 1.3 billion users respectively. China’s major messengers, WeChat and QQ, however, are enjoying the wealth of users the Chinese mainland has to offer, easily beating Microsoft’s Skype and even other East Asian entries like Viber and Line.
The change in user demographics among these platforms also paint an interesting picture.
Youtube is definitely a pastime that has taken a chunk out of TV viewing, for instance, as 80% of 18-49 year-olds worldwide watch videos on the platform several times a month. Over at Twitter, 80% of active users are rich Millennials, hinting how active social media use sometimes reflects privilege.
Meanwhile, on Facebook, usage among teens is in decline, down from a high of 71% in 2015 to 51% in 2018. Does this simply reflect the current user base becoming more mature, either by way of straightforward teen users aging along with the passing years, or by the platform attracting new users who are older?
Statista & Data Reportal
Or maybe the teenage taste has simply changed: in 2018, teenagers preferred to use Snapchat (41%) over Instagram (22%) or Facebook (15%). In the US alone, a lot of young adults, including age-appropriate teens (18-24 years old), are Snapchat users (78%).
How long does the average person spend on social media?
Time spent on social media is mostly culturally driven, and the worldwide average of 2 hours and 16 minutes of time spent in social media spans the lowest of 36 minutes a day on average in Japan, and the highest of 4 hours and 12 minutes a day on average in the Philippines.
Aside from cultural differences, the social platform involved also marks some socio-economic distinctions. For instance, 45% of people who earn over $75,000 annually are LinkedIn users.
Social media platforms and networks have varied ways of making money. LinkedIn, for example, offers a premium membership business model that fits snugly into its value proposition as a professional social networking site for job seekers and employers. A large chunk of revenue within social media as an industry, however, is gained via advertising.
Ad revenue is taken from a portion of a social platform’s total active user base who serve as an addressable market. In the case of some of the most popular social networks below, nearly all of their monthly active users (MAU) are also advertising audiences.
Facebook, for instance, has an addressable market of 2.121 billion MAU, just a few tens of millions of users short of its total MAU of 2.271 billion. It’s no wonder that there are over 65 million local business pages on Facebook in the US alone.
Interestingly, the predominantly male demographic skew on social media is broken by Instagram, where influencer-slash-models are the norm, and SnapChat, which initially thrived on a privacy-based value proposition where message histories become inaccessible after a short time.
Despite Facebook having a few more income streams, advertising does comprise a large chunk of its total revenue. And since a social network’s advertising audience is nearly all of its MAU, Facebook naturally has a gargantuan lead over its competitors in terms of advertising revenues.
|Platform||Annual Revenues (USD millions)|
So do these social media statistics and numbers show us anything meaningful when it comes to the near future? FinancesOnline recently looked into social media trends and a few stand out as movements that appear to have much staying power.
Social selling and social shopping—essentially social media-based demand and supply—won’t be going away any time soon. So much so that platform-specific buy-and-sell hubs, such as Facebook Marketplace, are thriving. In fact, social selling tools do far more than just sell. Social selling tools are often used for lead development (68.9%), account research (64.9%), and call preparation (60.3%), and some reps also leverage social selling tools for activities like stakeholder research and awareness building, among others.
Yet another trend that everyone can expect to continue is mobile-optimized social media experiences. In 2018, social media visits via mobile increased by 21% in the US, while desktop visits, in turn, declined by roughly the same amount. Indeed, when 91% of active social media users access their favorite platforms via their smartphones, it’s clear that the mobile revolution has yet to plateau.
With global social media user growth has not yet at a saturation point, the trends currently driving social media interactions between brands and people are expected to continue. These include influencer marketing, social advertising, and user-generated content. With over three billion social media users the world over (and counting) as a potential addressable market, even more trends and buzzwords will surely arise in the years to come.
FinancesOnline is available for free for all business professionals interested in an efficient way to find top-notch SaaS solutions. We are able to keep our service free of charge thanks to cooperation with some of the vendors, who are willing to pay us for traffic and sales opportunities provided by our website. Please note, that FinancesOnline lists all vendors, we’re not limited only to the ones that pay us, and all software providers have an equal opportunity to get featured in our rankings and comparisons, win awards, gather user reviews, all in our effort to give you reliable advice that will enable you to make well-informed purchase decisions.