How Many People Use Social Media?

You already know that social media is here and growing all the time. That said, it’s important to keep track of some of the specific data regarding the different social networks; it allows you to target the right social networks and plan more effective campaigns. So let’s take a look at some recent developments in social media and how many people are using the major platforms today.

Social Media Statistics: Issues to Keep in Mind

Before we examine some numbers, it’s important to understand some of the particulars when it comes to social media stats. You should, first of all, be aware of the distinction between total and active users. Total users refer to the number of people who have signed up for a service. Active users are people who actually use the service on a regular basis. For our purposes, it’s more helpful to focus on active users.

One problem that can distort social media statistics is spam bots. These are widely used by people who want to inflate their influence on social media. When you see offers to purchase large numbers of Facebook or Twitter followers at a low price, you can be sure that spam bots are being used. Because of the spam bot problem, social sites have purged many accounts that turned out to be fraudulent. Similar tactics are used by websites that want to create the appearance of having lots of traffic. This can be used to sell advertising or to sell websites.

Twitter estimates that about 5 percent of its users may be fake. Facebook, meanwhile reported that as many as 137 million of its accounts may be fake, which is close to 10 percent. Because it’s hard to identify the exact scope of the spam bot problem, it’s probably safest to assume that social media statistics are slightly lower than reported.

People Using Social Media Worldwide

Let’s begin by looking at the larger numbers – people using social media globally. At present, just under half of the world’s population has internet access. This amounts to over three billion people. There are, meanwhile, over two billion active social media users globally. In other words, 2/3 of the people online use social media. This tells you how pervasive social media has become.

When discussing the Internet and social media usage, you must also consider the rapid growth of mobile devices. The number of mobile users worldwide is approximately the same as the number of people with internet access -about half of the population. These two figures, of course, overlap a great deal -that is, people with mobile devices are also likely to have internet access. As mobile is the fastest growing and most popular way to access the internet, it’s more and more likely that someone logging onto a social media site will be doing so from a cell phone or tablet.

Social Media Usage in the U.S.

According to the Pew Research Center, which has tracked social media stats from 2005-2015, nearly 2/3 of Americans use social media sites, about the same as the world in general. What’s really interesting to note about social media usage in the U.S., however, is that there’s been a tenfold increase of adults using social media in the last ten years. 2005 is around the time when social media was just beginning to take off. It has grown steadily, and even exponentially, since that time.

It’s also interesting to note the increase in older users. Social media was originally considered the online realm for young users -teens and young adults primarily. This was certainly true of MySpace, the first giant social network. Since that time, social media usage has increased dramatically among all age groups, including seniors. In 2005, only 2 percent of seniors used social media; in 2010, that figure was 11 percent. By 2015, it had jumped to 35 percent.

As you might expect, usage among other age groups, such as 30-49 and 50-64, has also increased dramatically over the last decade. The highest usage has always been in the 18-29 age group. All of these social media monitoring figures suggest that these platforms are becoming universally popular.

Number of Users for Leading Social Media Sites

Now let’s look at how many people are using the leading social media platforms.

  • Facebook: Statista reports that, as of the end of 2015, there were 1.59 billion active Facebook users. In 2012, that number was just over one billion. As has been widely reported, Facebook use, while staggering, has leveled off someone in the last few years. It’s still the top social network by far, but some newcomers, such as Pinterest and Instagram are now growing faster. Facebook, which replaced MySpace as the hip new social network when it launched back in 2004, is now widely perceived as an older, more mainstream service. Because of this, younger users are starting to abandon it in favor of newer platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
  • Twitter: Statista reports that, as of the end of 2015, there were a little over 300 million active users on Twitter. Like Facebook, Twitter grew impressively from the time of its founding in 2006 to around 2014, when growth began to level off. Like Facebook, it is becoming less popular among younger users.
  • Pinterest: This image-based social site, which launched in 2010, has been one of the fastest growing social sites in recent years. It currently has about 100 million active users. One of the most significant metrics about Pinterest is that users are primarily female. In fact, women make up 85 percent of Pinterest users. On most social sites, gender differences are minimal.
  • Instagram: This is the fastest growing social network among younger users. It has about 300 million active users, who share an estimated 70 million photos daily. Keep in mind that Instagram is a mobile app, which points once again to the growing connection between mobile and social media usage.
  • LinkedIn: The leading professional network, LinkedIn has over 400 million members, with about 1/4 of these in the U.S. Unlike other popular social networks, people mainly use LinkedIn for networking, to find or fill jobs or make new business contacts.

Social media is very dynamic, so you have to keep up with the latest trends and statistics. Older social networks may decline as new ones are launched. You also have to look at who is using each platform and for what purposes. The only overall trend that is unlikely to change is that social media will continue to grow by leaps and bounds.