Social networks have become important tools in the daily lives of millions of people. In total, 4.650 million people on the planet use them. That’s it 58.7% of the world population, many of which use them as their main source of information. And we’re not just talking about Americans (although 84% use at least one), China now has more than 1 billion users, despite still having 415 million citizens without Internet access.
In 2022, the digital social universe looks busier than in years past, with many new guests competing. While the sheer size of Meta’s platforms still dominates thanks to its global reach, there are a number of smaller networks fighting for market share.
The top 10 social networks and messaging platforms are: Facebook (2.9 billion), YouTube (2.3 billion), WhatsApp (2 billion), Messenger (1.3 billion), Instagram (1.2 billion), WeChat (1.2 billion), TikTok (732 million), Telegram (700 million), Douyin (600 million) and QQ (595 million).
This chart by Visual Capitalist illustrates how that social universe is built and ranks the most popular platforms by their monthly user bases.
You can consult the graphic in its maximum resolution here.
Facebook is the largest network, with more than 2.3 billion people using it every month. This means that approximately 36.9% of the world’s population are Facebook users. More than 200 million companies (mainly SMEs) use its tools and more than 7 million advertisers promote their businesses there.
YouTube is Meta’s only competition. Alphabet’s video platform has more than 2 billion monthly active users. In addition to being the second largest social network, YouTube is said to be also second largest search engine after Google, its parent company.
As seen in the infographic, China has its own ecosystem of large messaging and social platforms, but its flagship is Tencent’s WeChat, which has 1.2 billion monthly users.
The only platform in the top 20 that is not based in either the US or China is privacy-focused messaging app Telegram. The Dubai-based company was created after the founders of the Russian social network VK left the country after resisting government pressure to publish data on Ukrainian users.
Yes, let’s face it, social media has always been dominated by Facebook and its sisters. Because basically, when a new rival appeared, Facebook acquired it (Instagram, WhatsApp), or copied its functions (Snapchat). However, TikTok has been the first real enemy to maintain a high growth rate, even as other platforms like Instagram are copying its features.
The short form video platform has also managed to transcend from Asia to the western market and was the number one downloaded app on the planetbecoming one of the favorites of Generation Z.
On the other hand, there are a large handful of platforms that fulfill specific functions. OnlyFans, for example, focuses on adult content creators. Parler and Truth Social appeal to users who want fewer restrictions on the content they post and consume. BeReal aims to create more authentic moments by asking users to post a photo at a random time each day.
To all this incipient creation of new corners where to socialize in a different way, there are now different controversies on traditional platforms with Twitter and Facebook as protagonists. The recent acquisition of Twitter by the billionaire Elon Musk has created chaos in recent weeks, where hundreds of employees have resigned en masse and millions of users have shown their rejection, leaving the platform. On Twitter, everyone is convinced that every day is the last day of Twitter.
And of course, we know that this widespread discontent (albeit temporary) can give rise to a boost for other emerging networks like Mastodon, which could reach figures that were unthinkable a few months ago and become those pillars that people need in their day to day. As we have always seen, no social network is spared from death.
Graphics: Visual Capitalist