As we move forward in the digital age, social media continues to gain importance in our daily lives. However, 2023 is seeing it take on a whole new significance. While we’re getting used to living with a pandemic, it hasn’t gone away completely and still puts a strain on normal interactions sometimes. Social media has helped combat this and alleviated some of the pressures and feelings of isolation.
However, the role social media plays in our lives is continuously changing, and it's not always positive. We've seen social media used as a tool to spread misinformation, divide people, and sow negativity.
It's essential to continuously evaluate how social media is affecting us, and one of the ways to do this is to look at which sites are the most popular. Doing this reveals what people want most from these platforms, mainly to share their lives and connect. Below we've compiled all the relevant stats you need to know about the most popular social media sites in 2023.
Social Media Users Around the World in 2023
According to Internet World Stats, about 5.25 billion people are connected to the internet worldwide, which is just a touch above 66 percent of the entire global population. This is up from 4.5 billion and 59 percent in 2020.
These numbers might seem impressive, but think about how much more we have relied on the internet in the last couple of years. The reality that 34 percent of the world's population is still not connected speaks to some of the harsh inequalities that still exist regarding the internet and all it has to offer.
In 2021, there were 3.96 billion social media users. Interestingly, around 20 percent of all internet users do not use any form of social media.
As long as this group exists, there will be room for social media growth, but if we look at what's been happening over the years, we can see that things are leveling off. There will always be a percentage of people who won't use social media, but as we move into 2023 and beyond, it will be interesting to see if this number goes up or down.
The Most Popular Social Media Sites By Number of Users
Now that we have it clear that social media is a huge part of people's lives, let's get into which sites are the most popular.
Some of the numbers won't surprise you, but others will. This data is from Statista:
- Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are unsurprisingly some of the most popular social networking sites in the world. These three have held top positions since the first data was collected.
- Social media use continues to grow in China – WeChat and QQ are both exclusively used in China yet are both in the world's top ten most popular sites.
- After showing promising signs of growth over the previous few years, TikTok has exploded to become the sixth most popular social media site in the entire world.
Only time will tell if this growth continues throughout 2023 and if TikTok will make its way even closer to the top. In the past, this hasn't been the case.
Sites such as Snapchat grew quickly to about this point until their popularity eventually waned. Some claim this trend keeps repeating because Facebook has too much control over the market, which was a significant issue in 2021. Snapchat and other apps are carving out strong niches, however.
Time Spent on Social Media
On average, people spend 142, or 2 hours and 22 minutes per day using social media. However, this average is global, and some people use it much more than others. Here's a breakdown of daily social media use around the world:
South America and Africa are well above the average, whereas Europe, North America, and Asia are below. This could be because internet use in South America and Africa is growing, and social media and internet use are restricted for most people in China.
Some Stats About the Most Popular Social Media Sites
Depending on how we measure it, the same social media sites are the most popular. Facebook clearly stands on top, especially when you consider that Instagram and WhatsApp are also part of Facebook.
To demonstrate just how popular these sites are, consider the following stats about each one:
- Each time someone visits Facebook, they spend an average of 10-12 minutes on the site. [We Are Social]
- 88 percent of all Facebook users access the site from a mobile device. [Hootsuite]
- Facebook's revenue per user has doubled in the past three years. [Kleiner Perkins]
- Overall, 74 percent of all Facebook users go on the site at least once a day [Pew]
- Over a billion people use Instagram, but 80 percent of users are from outside the U.S. [Statista]
- 72 percent of teens use Instagram daily [Business Insider]
- Instagram users "like" 4.2 billion posts a day [Time]
- There are 95 million new posts each day [Reuters]
- 63 percent of Instagram users use the site daily [Pew]
- Tik Tok now has more than 600 million active users, making it one of the world's most popular social media sites.
- There are about 13 million new videos uploaded to TikTok every day [Sensor Tower]
- 42 percent of Tik Tok's monthly revenue comes from the U.S. [Sensor Tower]
- 14 percent of young adult internet users in the US are on Tik Tok [Forbes]
- 28.56 percent of Tik Tok users open the app at least once a day [eMarkerter]
- 500 million tweets are sent each day [Twitter]
- Twitter became profitable for the first time in 2017 [Recode]
- User growth shrunk from 2018-2019, suggesting the platform may be in decline. [eMarketing]
- 71 percent of users are reading the news on Twitter [journalism.org]
- Just 42 percent of Twitter users use the site every day [Pew]
- 65 billion WhatsApp messages are sent each day [Business Insider]
- WhatsApp is used in 180 countries around the world [WhatsApp]
- WhatsApp has 1.6 billion daily active users [Tech Crunch]
- There are 100 million voice calls made each day on WhatsApp [WhatsApp]
- YouTube is the world's second-largest search engine, behind only Google, which belongs to the same company. [Pulse Marketing]
- The average mobile session is 40 minutes [YouTube]
- There are over 1 billion mobile videos viewed each day. [Statistic Brain]
- 73 percent of all Americans aged 18-24 use Snapchat, down from 78 percent a year ago[Pew]
- 47 percent of U.S. teens think it's better than Facebook [Fool]
- 66 percent of all Snapchat users are under the age of 25 [Hootsuite]
The Most Popular Social Media Sites You've Never Heard Of
Looking at the list of the most popular social media sites, we see many of the ones we're most familiar with.
In 2019 Tik Tok was unknown, but it's become a sensation, at least amongst the US youth. It was one of the most downloaded apps in the United States not too long ago. Yet there are quite a few most of us have probably never heard of. For example, what's QZone?
It turns out, that many of the world's most popular social media sites are specific to China.
1. China has severe restrictions on internet use. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are not allowed to operate there.
2. China has the world's largest population. This population is getting more and more affluent by the minute, meaning they have more time and money to access the internet and social media.
It's hard to say if these sites will overtake Facebook and YouTube as the world's most popular sites, but as long as China maintains its strict regulations, these platforms likely aren't going anywhere.
Here's a little more information about these hugely popular social media sites that are relatively unknown in other parts of the world.
WeChat is very similar to other messaging apps, such as WhatsApp or LINE. It's used almost exclusively in China, where Facebook, and its family of apps, are not allowed to operate. However, because China's population is so large, and because so many people use WeChat, it's made it near the top of the list of most popular social media sites.
Here are some more stats about WeChat:
- It was first released in January 2011, making it one of the newer social media platforms worldwide.
- There are 1.26 billion WeChat users.
- Each day, there are more than 38 billion messages sent over the WeChat platforms [Tencent]
- Of the 1.058 billion users on WeChat, just 70 million live somewhere other than China. [Business Insider]
- 98.5 percent of Chinese people aged 50-80 use WeChat [Tech Node]
QZone, which is also owned by Tencent, the same company that owns WeChat, is considered by some to be China's most popular social media site.
This is mainly because QZone operates more like Facebook. It allows you to write blogs, keep diaries, send photos, listen to music, and more. This is different from WeChat and QQ, which are almost exclusively messaging services.
Currently, there are just over 548 million monthly active QZone users, 542 million of which are mobile users.
Yet another Chinese social media site, QQ, is WeChat's biggest competitor. It's an instant messaging service that also allows people to pay for goods at participating stores and restaurants.
- We don't know much about QQ in terms of usage, but we know that it's growing quickly.
- To give you an idea, consider the current 574 million users on QQ. In 2014, there were just 200 million users.
- Interestingly, QQ is also owned by Tencent, the same parent company as WeChat and QZone.
Often referred to as the "Chinese Twitter," the social media site Sina Weibo, commonly referred to as just Weibo, is rapidly becoming one of the most widely-used social media sites globally.
Here are some stats about this relatively unknown social media site:
- Currently, Weibo has around 573 million registered users
- It has at least 195 million daily active users
- In 2017, Weibo pulled in $1.15 billion in revenue
Formerly known as Vkontakte, VK is the most popular social media site in Russia, making it the only unknown social media site not specific to China.
Because of Russia's smaller population and VK's limited reach outside of Russia, it's not a significant player on the world stage. It only has around 80 million monthly active users. This is no small number, but it pales in comparison to many of the other social media sites currently in use around the world.
Social media use remains immensely popular, and these statistics show that most people spend most of their social media time on only a handful of sites.
However, if the last 20 years have taught us anything, there will surely be new sites for people to use in the near future. It will be interesting to see if any of these upstarts can eat away at the massive popularity of those sites we currently use and love.
What is the Great Firewall of China?
This phrase is in reference to China’s tendency towards internet censorship. A firewall keeps out spam, malware, and such. In China’s case, their “firewall” keeps out western thoughts and opinions that are thought to be corruptive to their population by the powers that be.
Can you start your own social networking site?
Anyone with internet access and a little bit of technical know-how could start their own social networking site. Most of the big ones we know about now, were once small, one or two person operations.
Are social networking sites profitable?
The large social networks that we have mentioned discussed in this article make a lot of money. Since the early days, the concern by site owners was always how to monetize all the traffic they were building. Eventually, they realized that selling advertising space was the path to riches to the tune of billions annually.
Is LinkedIn popular?
As a job networking site, LinkedIn has only lately gotten into the advertising game. While there are not as many stats readily available for LinkedIn, we do know that they have 750+ million registered accounts. Yes, that’s a lot.
Is social media bad for kids?
There have been some studies that point to a rise in mental disorders like ADHD, depression, and anxiety in kids who use social media. Whether or not this can be pinned exactly on social media, it’s not too far of a stretch to presume that anything you spend so much time with can have negative side effects.