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Top 16 social media networks by the number of active users

This article will list the 16 most popular social media networks worldwide by the number of active users, starting with Facebook, ending with Snapchat.

Matija Hanicar

January 25, 2019

Have you found this article on social network? Can you imagine your day passing without checking social media networks for news, using them for everyday communication, finding inspiration or just “checking” what’s new?

Today, 97% of Millenials use the Internet, more than 92% of them have a smartphone, and older generations (Generation X, Baby Boomers, Silent) are increasingly embracing technology and their use of social media networks. This article will list the 16 most popular social media networks worldwide by the number of active users.

1. Facebook

It all started as a project of Harvard sophomore who, since then, became a global name. We’ve all heard of Mark Zuckerberg, but Facebook is the one thing most of us can’t imagine our lives without. Actually, 6% of all digital time is spent on this social network – and this number just keeps on growing.

This social networks has users all over the world, it is available globally except for being banned in 10 countries. Country with most Facebook users is India, leaving United States on the second place. Among top 10 countries are, ranked by the number of users, also: Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey and United Kingdom.

56% of Facebook users is male, and 44% is female, with that ratio being similar in all age groups. Latest trends are showing that Facebook is not that popular with Gen-Z, not being among top 3 social media networks.

Number of monthly active users: 2 234 M

Markets: Global

2. YouTube

Did you know that YouTube is 2nd biggest search engine in the world? It was launched in 2005 and now has more than 1,9 billion monthly active users. As a platform for user-generated content, it has more than 300 hours of HD quality video uploaded every 60 seconds! Last year we experienced the biggest growth in subscription services, more specifically, among top 10 apps by consumer spend 6 are streaming services.

Number of monthly active users: 1 900 M

Markets: Global

3. WhatsApp

This cross-platform instant messaging service was acquired by the biggest social network on this list, Facebook, in February of 2014 for $19 billion. Since then, it has more than tripled in size. Allowing users to connect to their contacts over WLAN, reducing their mobile bills, it has slowly become one of the most popular messaging apps.

WhatsApp is especially popular in markets outside United States, but in Asian market it is facing strong competition like some Asia-based social messenger apps such as WeChat, LINE or Kakaotalk.

In 2018, WhatsApp launched WhatsApp Business, subscription based model aimed at business sector. This is the first product by WhatsApp that directly generates the money from the app. This allows business to reply to customers via their favourite channel, not charging them for messages replied within 24 hours. This model only charges fixed rate by country per message sent after that period.

Number of monthly active users: 1 500 M

Markets: Global

4. Facebook Messenger

Launched by the Facebook in 2011, this messaging app was focused on a single feature. All users had to download the app to continue communicating with their group of friends, being not able to send messages through Facebook app. This strategic push allowed different marketing options for Facebook, allowing businesses to establish communication with their customers via Facebook Messenger. Today, bots are able to answer most frequently asked questions, reduce answer time, make the first step…

Number of monthly active users: 1 300 M

Markets: Global

5. WeChat

This mobile messaging app was first released in 2011, by the Chinese company Tencent. In 2012 it was rebranded to WeChat to be more appealing to international audiences. Latest numbers tell us that it has more than 1 billion monthly active users. This networks makes an outstanding share of total mobile traffic in China, 34 %! In comparison, Facebook makes only 14.1% of total mobile traffic in North America.

Outside China, WeChat has been used for payments of Chinese tourists.

Number of monthly active users: 1 058 M

Markets: China

6. Instagram

This social network was launched in 2010 and grew to 1 million users in the first 2 months. In 2012 it was acquired by Facebook for an estimated $1 billion. This mobile based photo and video sharing application recently introduced paid ads, with Facebook having the ability to buy ads for the both platforms simultaneously. As we already mentioned, Facebook is losing its appeal among younger generations, Instagram stands out as the only top photo-sharing/social networking platform that continues to grow across the board.

Number of monthly active users: 1 000 M

Markets: Global

7. QQ

Chances are you’ve probably never heard of this social network. It’s one of the biggest social media networks in China. This network was launched in 1999 by Tencent, for context, Facebook was launched in 2004! In the beginning, it was just a simple messaging app, but it quickly started to introduce new services. How come its not bigger than WeChat? Both are owned by the same company, but WeChat was an upgrade to QQ. It quickly gained much more users. Both platforms are extremely successful in capturing their shares of the market in China, but in different demographics.

Rise of the social media networks in China, source: Statista

Number of monthly active users: 803 M

Markets: China

8. QZone

Another social network specifically aimed at China’s market. It is free for users to register and use that platform for self-expression and content sharing. This social gaming platform has more than 500 million monthly active users. It was created in 2005 and since then it gained a massive user base. To put it in perspective, QQ is the biggest traffic entrance, and Qzone is the biggest traffic distribution platform.

Number of monthly active users: 548 M

Markets: China

9. Douyin/TikTok

These two apps are actually two separate entities, Douyin is short video media app owned by ByteDance, young China’s tech giant. International name of this app is TikTok, ranking 4th on the list of top 10 apps by the number of worldwide downloads. This is not the first time one Chinese company presents one app as being the same everywhere, when it’s actually not. Users abroad will only be able to download Tik Tok from the app stores.

Just one year after the release, Douyin had more than 100 million users and became the second most downloaded app in the Chinese Apple store. In 2017 they came out in the international market, and within half a year after the release, TikTok was 6th most downloaded non-game app in the Apple app store and Google play store combined. In the August of 2018, it merged with the short video app Musical.ly. That made the ByteDance the world’s most valuable private start-up, valued at 75 billion dollars.

Number of monthly active users: 500 M

Markets: China

10. Sina Weibo

Another social media network specific for Chinese market. ‘Weibo’ means ‘micro-blog’. It is often explained as the Chinese equivalent of Twitter or Facebook, two services that are blocked in China. Posts on Weibo include photos, images, emoticons, music, video clips and text with a 140-character limit.

Number of monthly active users: 431 M

Markets: China

11. Twitter

This real-time microblogging platform launched in July 2006. It became known by its blue bird logo, and a limit on the length of the post – also called a ‘tweet’. Out of the 326 million average users, 67 millions were in the US. By the last official stats, numbers of daily tweets wes over 500 million. This platform is predominately mobile, with 80% of Twitter usage coming via mobile devices. Part of the reason why this network became popular is the ability of users to follow any other users with a public profile. In that way, they can interact with the celebrities who regularly post on Twitter. Currently, the most-followed person on Twitter is singer Katy Perry with 108 million followers.

Number of monthly active users: 335 M

Markets: Global

12. Reddit

Reddit, often referred at as a “front-page of the Internet”, is the fifth most popular site in the United States. Essentially, it’s a massive collection of forums, where people share thoughts, news and interact with other users. It is divided into “subreddits”, with each covering a different topic. Users upvote posts that are attractive to them, so the best content is chosen by the community.

Number of monthly active users: 330 M

Markets: Global

13. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is world’s biggest network for professionals, where employees can list their job roles, their skills and their education. It is actually the most used social network by Fortune 500 companies. It was launched in 2003. Today, majority of income comes from subscription based models like LinkedIn Premium membership. In June 2016, Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. Today, it has more than 590 million users, spreading over 200 countries. Over 30 million companies have profiles on this social networks. Many of users come to this network searching for a new job and companies come to search for new employees. With 57% of LinkedIn traffic coming from mobile devices, no wonder that their app was downloaded more than 100 million times.

Number of monthly active users: 303 M

Markets: Global

14. Baidu Tieba

Baidu Tieba is a social network owned by Baidu, and today has around 300 million active users. It was established in December of 2003 with forum-like features. Now it consists of millions of very specific topic or interest boards with social features. 70% of Baidu Tieba users are post-90s users.

Number of monthly active users: 300 M

Markets: China

15. Skype

There is debate is Skype even a social network or just an internet communicating tool. This platform enables users to video chat or make voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices and more. It also allows users to communicate with text, send images, videos and digital documents. Skype was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennstrӧm from Sweden, and it was acquired by Microsoft Corporation in 2011. That allowed Skype to be easily integrated into other Microsoft products and services like XBox.

Number of monthly active users: 300 M

Markets: Global

16. Snapchat

This image and video messaging app was developed in 2011, and it became famous by video feature ‘Stories’ that was later copied by Facebook and Instagram. Today, there is 186 million daily active Snapchat users. For the first time, in 2018 number of daily active users has started to decline. It is still very popular in the United States, with almost quarter of American using it in the 2018 – this puts Snapchat ahead of LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp. 94% of American young adults use this app. Across this network there is over 3 billion snaps sent every day, and Snapchat Stories are reportedly viewed 10 billion times a day. Ads were introduced in 2015 – via ad feature platform “Discover” that allows publishers to advertise their third-party short-form content. With Discover, users browse different content from partners like CNN, The Food Network…

Number of monthly active users: 291 M

Markets: Global


This article listed top 16 social media networks by size, starting with Facebook, ending with Snapchat. Facebook is still the biggest social network with more than 2 billion users, even though it is not among top three networks for generation Z. China is a very interesting market, especially in the social network world. Majority of biggest social platforms are banned in China, but there are other solutions provided by Chinese tech giants like Tencent. On this list we can find 6 social media networks specific only for Chinese market.

Last year, the world was shaken by the news from China mobile games market. Ban of new video games was lifted at the end of 2018, but Tencent still suffered 5% stock fall for the first time in 13 years. This affected the overall industry as well as social networks in China that introduced more strict regulations on their platforms, requiring users to provide their ages and identities. That meant that companies like Tencent suffered losses and began searching for alternatives abroad. We also saw the success of TikTok, in 2018. The international version of extremely successful Chinese social network quickly became the 4th most downloaded app. We can expect to see decline in Facebook’s popularity in younger generations, but increased acquisition of older demographic groups. Generation Z is turning to Snapchat and Instagram.

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