Since its inception in 1996, social media has managed to infiltrate half of the 7.7 billion people in the world. Social network platforms almost tripled their total user base in the last decade, from 970 million in 2010 to the number passing 4.48 billion users in July 2021.
The spectacular year-on-year adoption of new users on the platforms is, however, slowing down. It now relies on the continuous growth in the number of people with internet access and smartphones, particularly in developing regions.
So, how big is social media and how has it evolved today?
In this awesome statistical roundup, you’ll discover the latest social network data by the numbers and key demographics, here’s a summary of what you’ll learn below:
- Social Media Usage Statistics (Top Picks)
- How many people use social media?
- Global social media growth rates
- Social media penetration by country
- Social media in the US by the numbers
- Social media growth in the US
- Most popular social media platforms
- Average time spent on social media
- Social Media Usage by Device
So without further ado, let’s dive into the top 12 statistics you cannot miss surrounding one of the fastest adopted technologies in the last century.
Social Media Usage Statistics (Top Picks)
- 4.48 billion people currently use social media worldwide, up more than double from 2.07 billion in 2015
- The average social media user engages with an average of 6.6 various social media platforms
- The social media growth rate since 2015 is an average of 12.5% year-over-year. However, growth is on the decline with 2019-2020 data revealing a 9.2% growth rate
- By region, social media growth in 2019-2020 is led by Asia: +16.98%, Africa +13.92%, South America +8.00%, North America +6.96%, Europe +4.32%, and Australasia +4.9%
- 60.99% of the 7.87 billion people in the world use social media, of eligible audiences aged 13+, there is 63% that are active users
- 93.33% of internet users are on social media; however, a titanic 85% of mobile internet users are active on networks
- Out of 4.48 billion social media users, 99% access websites or apps through a mobile device, with only 1.32% accessing platforms exclusively via desktop
- Globally, the average time a person spends on social media a day is 2 hours 24 minutes; if someone signed up at 16 and lived to 70, they would spend 5.7 years of their life on it
- Facebook is the leading social network at 2.9 billion monthly active users, followed by YouTube (2.3 billion), WhatsApp (2 billion), FB Messenger (1.3 billion), and WeChat (1.2 billion)
- 72.3% of the total US population actively use social media, totaling a number of 240 million people
- In the US, 54% of social media users are female, while the remaining 46% are male, compared with a global average of 45.6% for female, and 54.4% for male.
How many people use social media?
As of 2021, the number of people using social media is over 4.48 billion worldwide, with the average user accessing 6.6 social media platforms on a monthly basis. Popular platforms like Facebook have over 65.86% of their monthly users logging in to use social media daily.
All social networks report growth data on the number of monthly active users or MAU’s rather than the number of accounts, as this data is more accurate for measuring actual use and territory penetration.
What percentage of people use social media?
The current percentage of people using social media is 56.8% of the world’s total population. However, when we look into platform penetration rates from people in eligible audiences, 93.33% of 4.8 billion global internet users and 85% of 5.27 billion mobile phone users are on social media.
- 4.48 billion people use social media worldwide, according to platform reports on the current number of active users
- 56.8% of the world’s population is active on social media when looking at eligible audiences aged 13+ years, rising to 82% in North America
- Out of 7.87 billion people in the world, 56.8% of the population use social networks, regardless of age or internet access
- Out of 4.8 billion internet users, 93.33% are active users
- Out of 5.27 billion unique mobile phone users, 85% are active users
- Out of 4.48 billion social media users, 99% access the websites or apps through a mobile device
How many social media accounts does the average person have?
According to the Global Web Index, the average number of social media accounts a millennial or Gen Z-er has is 8.4 worldwide, up 75% from 4.8 accounts in 2014. The study of 46 countries with internet users aged 16 to 64 shows Japan had the lowest average number of social network accounts at 3.8, comparably India had the highest with 11.5 per person.
- The average number of social media accounts is 8.4 per person in 2020
- The growth in the number of accounts per person is up 75% from 4.8 accounts per person in 2014 to 8.4 in 2020
- Firstly, the growth of multi-networking relates to the widening of platform choice. Secondly, it’s also down to specialization of individual platforms, e.g., Instagram (photos), YouTube (video), and LinkedIn (work)
5 Highlights for Backlinko’s audience:
- India: Averages 11.4 accounts per person
- USA: Averages 7.1 accounts per person
- UK: Averages 6.9 accounts per person
- Canada: Averages 6.8 accounts per person
- Japan: Averages 3.8 accounts per person
How many people use social networks for business?
40% of all internet users worldwide use social media for work purposes. In the U.S., only 27% of people actively use social media in their jobs, compared with the highest by country in Indonesia at 65%, or the lowest at 13% in Israel.
5 Highlights for Backlinko’s audience:
- India: 47% of people use it for work
- Canada: 31% of people use it for work
- Australia: 30% of people use it for work
- USA: 27% of people use it for work
- UK: 27% of people use it for work
Social media usage by gender
The current global average gender split of social media users is 54% men versus 46% women. However, in the US, women are the leading user base; 76% of all female internet users have social network accounts compared with 72% of all men.
Which gender uses social media more by region?
- North America: 54% female vs. 46% male users
- South America: 52% female vs. 48% male users
- Western Europe: 50% female vs. 50% male users
- Southern Africa: 52% female vs. 48% male users
- Southern Asia: 27% female vs. 73% male users
- Oceania: 53% female vs. 47% male users
Which gender uses social media more by platform?
As you can see from the data above, social network usage is different for men and women globally when examining location. Perhaps the most notable gap in gender differences is where we look at the use by the platform.
When looking at the top 8 social platforms by monthly active users, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and TikTok index higher in male users. Sites like Facebook and Instagram are more female orientated, especially Pinterest, which dominates with female audiences.
|Social network||Male (% usage)||Female (% usage)|
Global social media growth rates
How much does social networking grow year on year?
In 2021, there are 4.48 billion people actively using social media in the world, and this is an increase of 13.13% year-on-year from 3.69 billion in 2020. Back in 2015, there were only 2.07 billion users – that’s an overall increase in users of 115.59% in just six years.
6 Year Social Media Growth Statistics:
- 2021: 4.480 billion active users (+13.13%)
- 2020: 3.960 billion active users (+13.7%)
- 2019: 3.484 billion active users (+9.2%)
- 2018: 3.196 billion active users (+9.0%)
- 2017: 2.796 billion active users (+21%)
- 2016: 2.307 billion active users (+11%)
- 2015: 2.078 billion active users
Top 10: Growth of social media users by country
According to Keipo’s analysis, the country with the most significant social media growth in 2019-2020 was India, with 130 million new users joining platforms – equivalent to 9.6% of their total population. In second place was China (15 m), Indonesia (12 m), Brazil (11 m), Iran (9.4 m), and the USA in 6th place with 6.9 million new users.
Below, we have the top 20 social media growth rankings by country, representing the largest number of users, not percentage increase:
Growth of social media users by region
The total number of people using social media grew by 9.2% between April 2019 and Jan 2020. When looking at the number of people growing by region, Europe had the slowest activation of new active users at 4.9%. Whereas Asia was the most considerable social media user base growth at 16.98%, followed by Africa increasing by 13.92%
Social media growth by region 2019-2020:
- North America: +6.96%
- South America: +8.00%
- Europe: +4.32%
- Africa: +13.92%
- Asia: +16.98%
- Australasia: +4.9%
Day one: When did social media start?
The rise of social media began back in 1996 with the release of the networking site Bolt (now closed). Shortly after, in 1997, Six Degrees was released where users could add friends and make profiles. Following that, services like AOL Instant Messenger, Live Journal, and Friendster launched all paving the way for the leader, Facebook, in 2004.
Timeline: Early days of social media
- 1996: The first social networking and video website is Bolt, which was active from 1996-2007
- 1997: A site called Six Degrees was created where users could upload profile information and connect with users by making ‘friends’
- 1997: AOL launched its Instant Messenger service, who acquired it from an Israeli based company, it was originally called ICQ and launched in 1996
- 1999: This was the launch of LiveJournal, the first popular blogging platform
- 2000: Habbo, a game based networking site, was released
- 2002: Friendster launched, where users made profiles, connected, and share content
- 2003: LinkedIn launched the first business-orientated social networking site
- 2004: Facebook, the most popular platform of all time launches
Social media penetration by country
Which country has the most active social media users in the world?
Social media penetration = active users vs. total population.
According to Statista’s data from 2020, the most active country is the U.A.E., with 99% of its population using social media. The average penetration rate globally is 49%. When isolating the data to eligible users aged 13+, the average social media penetration by country rate is 63%.
Key Statistics by the total population
- On average, 49% of the world are active social media users, regardless of age
- On average, 63% of the world’s population aged 13+ are active on social media
- USA has 70% regardless of age, 83% for only those aged 13+ years
- UK has 66% regardless of age, 79% for only those aged 13+ years
- Canada has 67% regardless of age, 77% for only those aged 13+ years
- Australia has 71% regardless of age, 85% for only those aged 13+ years
- India has 29% regardless of age, 38% for only those aged 13+ years
In which countries can networks look to expand?
Social media has the most substantial opportunity for growth in developing countries, with billions of new users to sign up. Think tank data company Pew Research Center noted a steady increase in internet and smartphone adoption, which significantly relates to the growth of social media in certain developing countries or regions.
In 2014 there was a median of 42% of people that accessed the internet occasionally, now this figure must be well over 65%, which was the last number recorded from the Pew study in 2017. There was a similar story for the adoption of smartphone use also, doubling to almost 42% in the same period.
Advertising revenue will not grow at the same rate
Unfortunately, social networks looking to expand in these territories will make a lot less from the advertising profits per user, so user volume is critical for their earnings.
For example, Facebook reports the average revenue per user would be $41.41 for signing someone up in the US; however, in the Asia-Pacific region, that figure lies at $3.57.
Social media in the US by the numbers
What percentage of Americans are on social media?
According to platform statements, the number of social media users in the US is 240 million in 2020, meaning 72.3% of Americans are actively using sites monthly. The most popular platforms in the United States are YouTube at 81.9% and Facebook at 73.4% among internet users aged 16 to 64.
Number of Americans on social media:
The US social media penetration is calculated by the total number of active social network users versus the total population or those aged 13+.
- 72.3% of the total US population have social network accounts, regardless of age, totaling a number of 231.47 million people
US social media use by gender:
In America, social media is more prevalent among women, in particular, Snapchat and Pinterest, whereas men are using sites like YouTube and Twitter more.
- 78% of females
- 66% of males
US social media use by ethnicity:
The percentage of social media use versus the total population by race for the entire US population is:
- 80% Hispanic
- 77% Black
- 69% White
US social media use by age:
Unsurprisingly, the percentage of Americans using social media by age is primarily Gen Z and Millennials.
- 84% of those aged 18-29
- 81% of those aged 30-49
- 73% of those aged 50-64
- 45% of those aged 65+
Social media growth in the US
What is the current growth rate of social media in the US?
70% of the US population has active social media accounts, with a year-on-year growth rate of 3.1% from 2019-2020. An original record of the US market size was 5% in 2005, growth in the US took just under 6 years to penetrate 50% of America’s population in 2011.
- America’s social media growth rate between 2020 and 2021 was 4.3%
- The total number of users in America has grown by 10 million between 2020 and 2021
US growth of social media users by platform
A selection of surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center 2012-2019 shows the percentage of US adults who state they use the following apps on their phone or desktop.
Key US Network Growth Statistics 2020-2021:
- TikTok is up 18.3%
Most popular social media platforms
What are the most used social media sites?
In 2020, Facebook is the leading social network with people with 2.85 billion of 4.48 billion social media users worldwide. YouTube and WhatsApp follow this with over 2 billion, then Messenger, WeChat, and Instagram, all having 1 billion or more users.
|Network||Active users (MM)|
Average time spent on social media
How much time do people spend on social media each day?
In 2020, the average time spent on social media per day is 2 hours 25 minutes globally for users aged 16 to 64 on any device.
In comparison, the time spent on networks by the average person in the US is 2 hours and 7 minutes, 18 minutes less than the global average.
The World Health Organization estimates global life expectancy to be 73 years. If the average person persisted with the same social media usage, they would spend 5.7 years / 2,080 days on platforms in their eligible lifespan.
- Globally, the average time a person spends on social media a day is 2 hours 25 minutes / 145 minutes
- The average person will spend 5.7 years on social media from the age of 16+ to the average life expectancy of 70
- The average person will spend 36.5 days a year on platforms from the age of 16+
- Out of the 46 countries surveyed, people in the Philippines spend the most daily time networking at 4h 15m
- People in Japan spend the least daily time on networking at 51 minutes
Time spent on social media by country
Below, we have the average daily time spent on social media in hours and minutes from 46 countries; the data source is the Global Web Index 2020 report.
5 Highlights for Backlinko’s audience:
- Brazil – 3 hours 42 minutes
- U.S.A. – 2 hours 7 minutes
- U.K. – 1 hour 49 minutes
- Australia – 1 hour 45 minutes
- South Korea – 1 hour 8 minutes
Daily time on social media growth statistics
Below, we have the growth in time spent on social media in minutes; the data source is from all internet users from 47 countries, aged 16 to 64, and on any device.
|Year||Time (minutes)||Growth (%)|
How often do Americans use social media sites?
Below we have the frequency of visits Americans have to these popular social media sites, all platforms other than Twitter get at least half of their users visiting the platform every single day.
|Platform||Use “Less often” (%)||Use “Weekly” (%)||Use “Daily” (%)|
Social Media Usage by Device
What’s the percentage of social media usage on mobile vs. desktop?
In regards to social media usage by device, 99% of people in the world access networks on a mobile device (tablet or phone). Around 78% are solely accessing platforms from their mobile phone, compared with only 1.32% visiting their social networks via only their desktop.
What’s the internet’s mobile vs. tablet market share?
According to StatCounter, the current mobile vs. desktop market share worldwide is weighted more towards mobile, with 55.89% of people accessing the internet on a feature or smartphone. Only 41.36% of people now access the internet on desktop (leaving 2.74% on tablets).
By comparison, this shows just how “mobile” social media is.
- 99% or 4.43 billion social media users access networks using a mobile device
- 78% or 2.97 billion users access networks exclusively on their mobile phone
- 1.32% or 50 million exclusively access networks on a desktop
- 20% or 760 million users use both desktop and mobile phones
- There are 3.50 billion smartphones in the world, which means 84.85% of smartphone owner’s access social media from their phones
- There are 5.27 billion unique mobile phone users in the world
There you have it for my rise of social media statistics roundup.
In terms of technology adoption, it’s mind-blowing to see how quickly a social network can explode. For example, TikTok was on one in five devices connected to the internet in 24 months.
Now I’d like to hear from you:
What else would you like to see added to this roundup? Or have a question?
Either way, please jump in and leave a comment below.