Social media is no longer a foreign concept, at least to more than 3.5 billion people on the internet. Notably, the number of people using any form of social media has been on the rise in the early 2000s. The social media landscape has evolved so much that companies that were prominent earlier are nowhere today in terms of market share.

In 2006 and earlier, MySpace was the largest social media platform. Interestingly, MySpace accounted for 19.45 million social media users out of 21.44 million. YouTube was the only other major platform whose users were about 1.95 million. Interestingly, MySpace was the most visited website in 2006, performing better than Google. Fast forward, MySpace dropped out of the league of active social media sites.

Facebook headquarters in 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, United States. Photo credit: Jimmy Baikovicius.
Facebook headquarters in 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, United States. Photo credit: Jimmy Baikovicius.

Today, Facebook is the king of social media. As of October 2019, there were 2.414 billion monthly active users (MAU) on Facebook globally. Just ten years ago, the total number of MAU on Facebook was a mere 242 million, according to Statista data. It implies that in 10 years, the number of MAUs on Facebook grew by over 910%. In comparison, the number of MAUs on YouTube, the second-largest social media site worldwide, was 2 billion as of October 2019. In 2009, there were 413.61 million MAUs on YouTube. As such, YouTube’s usage has grown by a little over 383% in ten years.

In terms of revenue, the social media sites industry is burgeoning year-on-year. Notably, the global social media industry registered $15.62 billion in revenue in 2013. Through the years up to 2019, the industry has seen significant growth in revenues. By year-end 2019, the industry is expected to register$42.91 billion in revenue.

Which countries are pursuing social media aggressively?

The US is the most significant player in the social media sites industry. Of the top ten biggest social media sites worldwide, five originate from the US. They include Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. Collectively, the five social media sites have 8.3 billion monthly active users. Additionally, the US is the leader in the social media industry in terms of revenue generated. In 2018, social media companies in the country earned $34 billion in revenue. Between 2013 and 2018, the annual growth in revenue in the industry was at 36%. 

The remaining five social media sites among the world’s best-ten are Chinese. These include WeChat, QQ, QZone, TikTok, and Sina Weibo. Collectively, social media sites boast of 3.48 billion monthly active users. According to Statista, Chinese social media companies earned 60 billion yuan ($8.54 billion) in revenue from ads in 2018. Compared to 2017, the ad revenue in 2018 was almost 90% growth.

Areas where the application of social networking sites industry is most

Individuals across the world use social networking sites (SNS) for various purposes. It, however, depends on the objective of the website. For instance, Facebook is a platform where people meet new friends and where they can catch up. Other sites like Twitter provide an opportunity for users to blog or microblog to share information. Instagram, on the other hand, is a platform for sharing photos while LinkedIn is for professional networking. 

Notably, the application of SNS is massive in communication. Today, many companies have a presence on or more SNS where they communicate with their customers and obtain feedback. Some SNS like WhatsApp provides an opportunity for individuals to keep in touch as well as spreading information faster.

Industry outlook

While the number of monthly active users is still on the rise, the rate of growth is falling. The rate of user growth in the SNS industry peaked in 2014 at 12.5%. Since then, the rate of increase in social media site users has continued to reduce significantly. According to Statista estimates, the annual increase in social network users will be around 5.6%. This rate will further slow down to 4.7% in 2020. Therefore, one can easily conclude that the number of social media users will soon peak, perhaps in the five to ten years. 

In terms of the number of SNS users per country, China will continue to lead with over 799.6 million users by 2023. Although India is expected to add over 100 million users by 2023, it will remain far behind China but far ahead of the US, where SNS users are expected to reach 257.4 million by 2023. Last January 2021, it has also been recorded that India had about 320 million users.