Use of social media sites surges globally with Facebook way out in front

New figures show more than 2.4bn people will use social media platforms by year-end

One-third of the global population will be using social media platforms on a regular basis by the end of the year, according to a new study.

This equates to more than 2.4 billion people, and is a 8.2 per cent rise on the number of social media users recorded in 2016.

The eMarketer forecast indicates that at least 71 per cent of internet users worldwide will access social media sites with China alone accounting for over 46 per cent of users. By 2021, social network penetration will expand to 73.1 per cent globally.

The number of people accessing social media platforms via mobile continues to rise, growing by an estimated 10.7 per cent this year to reach 2.01 billion. This is equivalent to four in five social network users.


Facebook is far and away the most popular social network worldwide. Nearly 1.5 billion people will log in to the platform in 2017, accounting for 60.8 per cent of all social media users. Approximately 87.2 per cent of Facebook users will access the site via a mobile device.

According to eMarketer, more than 260 million people worldwide will use Twitter regularly this year, an increase of 4 per cent from 2016. However, while Twitter's audience is growing, it continues to feel pressure from competing social platforms.

The result of this is that the share of social network users worldwide who use the platform will contract from 11 per cent last year to 10.6 per cent in 2017.

The survey reveals that Twitter accounts for 10.6 per cent of all social network users.

More than eight in 10 internet users in China, or 626 million people, will access social networks regularly in 2017, with homegrown messaging platform WeChat fuelling takeup.

"Social networks as a whole continue to grow, increasingly resembling new internet users by accessing almost exclusively via mobile devices and gradually adding older users to their ranks," said Monica Peart, senior forecasting director at eMarketer.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist