Social media’s popularity and reach are expanding along with the global digital population. Online platforms, which allow users to access a wide range of information, are a part of everyday life and are continuously changing how people engage with one another globally. In their early years, social media sites were mostly seen as online communities for younger populations, however, people of all ages regularly use such platforms for matters of business, socializing, dating, politics, and daily communication.
What do people do on social media?
In 2022, almost half of all social media users said that they use it for staying connected with family and friends. Other popular reasons for using social networks included filling spare time, looking for inspiration, and reading news stories. Social media is a popular news source in many countries - over 70 percent of adults in Nigeria, Thailand, Malaysia, and South Africa said that they used social media to access news. The amount of time that people spend on social media has steadily increased over the last decade. In 2023, people spent on average 151 minutes per day on social media.
Is Facebook still the most popular social media platform?
What do users want from Instagram?
Meta’s image-based Instagram is often associated with the creation of aesthetically pleasing images, influencers, and a view into the lifestyles of celebrities. However, users of the platform now expect more varied content. At the beginning of 2023, over 50 percent of Instagram users said that they enjoyed seeing funny posts on Instagram, whilst 46 percent said that creative content was their preferred type of content. In December 2021, Instagram reached a milestone, amassing approximately two billion monthly active users, and whilst audience growth has in no doubt expanded for the platform, it is still no match for its predecessor Facebook.
Who is using TikTok?
TikTok, launched in 2017, has established itself as a major player in mainstream social media. As of early 2023, TikTok had over one billion monthly active users. With a focus on recording dances and lip-syncing videos, TikTok appeals to younger users. It is most popular with women aged 18 to 24 years, who make up one-fifth of all users. Male users of the same age group are the app’s second-largest demographic.
As of March 2023, Italian comedian, web video producer, and influencer Khabane "Khaby" Lame is the most followed content creator on TikTok, with over 155 million followers on the platform. Ranking close second is dancer Charli D’Amelio with 150 million followers.
Social media as a marketing tool
The United States is the leading worldwide market for social media advertising, with a total expenditure of 72.3 billion US dollars in 2023 followed by China and the United Kingdom, with 71 billion and nine billion US dollars, respectively. As of January 2023, Facebook was the platform most used amongst marketers, with 89 percent of global marketers reporting using Facebook. Instagram and LinkedIn followed, whilst one-quarter of marketers used TikTok for advertising. Moreover, 86 percent of industry professionals said that increased exposure was the leading benefit of using social media as a marketing tool, whilst 76 percent stated that increased traffic was the biggest advantage.
Social media subscriptions
The use of social media is still mostly free, but tech companies have been pushing for users to become paying subscribers to lessen their reliance on advertising profits. For a cost of between 11.99 USD and 14.99 USD, Meta Verified subscribers receive a blue verification badge, extra account protection, and direct account support, to name a few. Twitter Blue subscribers also receive a verification mark, as well as the ability to edit tweets and use NFTs as profile pictures. As of April 2023, there were around 640 thousand Twitter Blue subscribers. Snapchat and Reddit also offer premium versions of their social platforms but at a much lower cost than Meta and Twitter.
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Stacy Jo Dixon
Research expert covering social media usage worldwide