Mobile social media worldwide - Statistics & Facts
An ever-increasing number of people are using mobile social media platforms as a means of communication, news consumption, and creative expression. Social applications are not only important for personal use, but they are also increasingly being utilized by businesses and organizations to expand their audience reach. Due to the ubiquitous presence of smartphones, mobile social media apps are becoming even more widespread, and with an estimated 5.85 billion global social media users by 2027, global mobile social media usage shows no signs of slowing.
Leading mobile social media platforms
WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and Snapchat are market leaders of mobile social media, amassing millions (or even billions) of users across each service. As of January 2023, Meta’s instant messaging service WhatsApp had around two billion global users, far ahead of second placed chat service WeChat, owned by Chinese multimedia company Tencent Holdings. Another of Meta’s Family of Apps (FOA), Facebook Messenger, is a chat, voice, and video communications platform that is home to over 930 million global users. Telegram, a cloud-based instant messaging app that can be used across numerous platforms has 700 million global users. In addition, Snap Inc’s Snapchat, with its disappearing pictures called ‘snaps’ and customizable filters, has 635 million users around the world.
Meta-owned Instagram, arguably the most prominent home for photo content on mobile devices, is one of the most popular social media apps in the world. India is home to the largest Instagram audience, with around 230 million users as of early 2023. Additionally, the app finds success in terms of audience size in the United States and Brazil. Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is the most followed person on Instagram, with 539 million followers. Lionel Messi and Kylie Jenner come in second and third position, with 424 million and 379 million followers, respectively.
As Instagram is used extensively by influencers and celebrities alike, understanding what fans want to see on the app is key in retaining and growing a follower base. The type of format in which content is posted make can make a big difference in keeping audiences engaged and interacting. Carousels (posts which can include up to ten images or videos) are the leading type of content on Instagram. In 2022, carousels received on average 232 user interactions, up slightly from the previous year.
Snapchat: taking on the world
Like Instagram, India is home to Snapchat’s largest audience, followed by the United States, with 182 million and 108 million users, respectively. Pakistan, France, and the United Kingdom are also home to relatively large users bases of the Snap app. As of the beginning of 2023, North America had 100 million daily active users of the social messaging platform, whilst Europe had 93 million. The rest of the world accounted for 190 million DAU. Since 2014, usage of the app has grown steadily with countries outside of North America and Europe, and finally surpassed both regions at the end of 2020.
In June 2022, Snapchat introduced a subscription service, which had over three million subscribers as of the first quarter of 2023. The paid version of the app, costing users 3.99 U.S. dollars per month, offers experimental and pre-release features.
TikTok – Gen Z’s platform
Young audiences are drawn to the social media app TikTok, where users can create and share short form videos with everyone. Brimming with lip-syncs, dancing, comedy, life hacks, and just about everything in between, female users under 24 years make up the majority of TikTok's user base as of April 2023. Users aged 25 to 34 years make up a substantial amount of the app’s audience, but interest in the app clearly wanes with age.
A video by Bella Poarch currently has the highest number of views on the app. As of March 2023, @bellapoarch’s lip sync of Millie B's "M to the B" had 61 billion likes. User @jamie32bsh's second-placed video, "dancing in front of the bathroom mirror," had about 52 million likes from the time of its upload in January 2022 and March 2023. TikTok videos with a runtime longer than 54 seconds received an average of 32.1 thousand views as of January 2023. Moreover, the least number of views were for videos that lasted less than 10 seconds, with an average of about 21 thousand views.
TikTok’s appeal and playful tone has not kept the platform clear of scrutiny. Citing data security threats, and warnings that the Chinese government could harvest personal data via the app, TikTok is currently subject to partial or complete bans in numerous countries. In April 2023, Afghanistan and India had full restrictions, whereas Pakistan had a partial ban. Overall, there were TikTok bans on governmental devices in 13 other nations or regions.
Social media-centered advertising
Social media advertising continues to be the most important method for brands, with increasingly more focus on mobile based marketing. In 2022, global social media ad spending on mobile amounted to 186 billion U.S. dollars – a figure expected to rise to 300 billion U.S. dollars by 2026. Additionally, last year saw China spend a total of 80.55 billion US dollars on digital search advertising, placing second only to the U.S. with 80.67 billion.
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Stacy Jo Dixon
Research expert covering social media usage worldwide