How many people use social media?

How many people use social media? Monthly active users over the years

Number of monthly active users since platform launch

This week we take a look at the number of people who use social media.

For this purpose I have created two graphs: One showing the number of people who use some of the most visited western social media over time; the other showing the user growth of these social media, taking as a zero point on the X-axis the day they launched.  In both cases, I've included monthly active users, i.e people that use each service at least once a month. 

The number of Facebook's monthly active users is unfathomable. Facebook reported that over 2,91 billion people visited its platform during the third quarter of 2021. That means that 1 in 3 people on this planet connected one way or another to Facebook. If the growth is to continue, Facebook will announce that it has surpassed 3 billion monthly users during 2022, or 18 years after it first launched. 

Facebook passed the 1 billion mark (pun intended) back in October 2012, or 8 years after its launch, and the 2 billion mark on June 2017, 13 years after its launch. 

Instagram's course is not unlike Facebook's. Facebook acquired Instagram for 1 billion dollars in 2012, in what at the time was considered frivolous, given the fact that Instagram had been founded just 2 years before, had only 13 employees and 50 million users. And yet, that bet was surely won, as Instagram had a revenue of 24 billion dollars in 2020 alone. 

Instagram passed the 1 billion mark on June 2017, 8 years after its launch, and the 2 billion mark, if internal sources are to be believed, on December of 2021, 11 years after its launch. 

TikTok is a phenomenon in and on itself. The Chinese company launched its service in 2017 in most countries outside of China and since then, its user base has skyrocketed. In September 2021, the platform announced on its blog that more than 1 billion people come to TikTok every month. An impressive feat given that it reached that milestone in just 4 years, and with the United States Government threatening to pull the plug! 

Snapchat has not reached 1 billion users, and its growth feels stagnated for some time now. Many celebrities have declared it dead, but it somehow continues to attract a respectable and loyal user base. Maybe things would have turned out differently if it had succumbed to Facebook's 3 billion dollar offer to buy the then two-year-old Snapchat in 2013. After that point, Instagram copied many of its features and the rest is history. 

Twitter will celebrate their 16th birthday in 2022, and even though it's the loudest of the social media, not that many people choose it as their platform of choice. According to the latest Twitter's earnings report, as of the third quarter of 2021, it recorded 396 million monthly users.  

Here's a list of my sources: Twitter earnings reports, Facebook (now Meta) earnings reports, CNBC, TechCrunch, Snapchat earnings reports, Truelist, Backlinko

Notes: Snapchat only publishes daily active users. I compared daily active users with reported monthly active users from other sources and calculated a rate of about 1.6 between monthly and daily active users. Instagram does not disclose its active users. It reported the 1 billion milestone in June 2018, and since then internal sources have confirmed the 2 billion milestone in December of 2021.