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India Leads Worldwide Social Networking Growth

Country set to control largest Facebook population worldwide

Growth in the number of social network users around the world may be slowing, but it shows little sign of stopping, based on eMarketer’s latest forecast of internet, broadband and social network users worldwide.

This year, eMarketer estimates, 1.61 billion people will log in to social networking sites at least monthly, from any electronic device. That’s a 14.2% gain on social networker numbers from 2012, and double-digit growth is expected to continue for another year. By 2017, 2.33 billion people will use social networks.

Currently, the highest penetration of social network users as a share of total population occurs in the Netherlands, where 63.5% of all residents are social network users; Norway follows just behind at 63.3%. Majorities of residents in Sweden, South Korea, Denmark, the US, Finland, Canada and the UK also use social networking sites monthly.

The fastest growth in social network usage is happening in less-developed markets, however. India, with the highest growth this year, will increase user numbers by 37.4%, while Indonesia’s numbers will climb 28.7% and Mexico will grow its social network user base by 21.1%.

All three of those countries are also high-growth areas for Facebook, the world’s largest social network, which eMarketer estimates will reach a worldwide monthly user base of 1.026 billion this year. The US remains the single country with the greatest number of Facebook users, at 146.8 million this year, and India comes in a distant second. But with India’s large population and high expected growth rate, eMarketer believes it will develop the largest Facebook population of any country in the world by 2016. (Since Facebook is banned in China, eMarketer assumes there are no users of the social network in the country.)

eMarketer bases all of our forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends as well as trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.

Additionally, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all our forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.

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