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With the exception of China, Russia and a few other countries, Facebook continues to dominate the social network scene in major markets worldwide. The popularity of newer social networks like Instagram is increasing rapidly, but users tend to adopt those platforms in addition to Facebook, rather than as replacements, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “Global Social Platforms 2016: A Country-by-Country Review of Social Network Usage.”
Young consumers have been at the forefront of this trend, and TNS estimated in November 2015 that the average social network user 16- to 24-years-old accessed at least five different social platforms weekly.
Messaging apps, which eMarketer does not include in its definition of a social network, have served to further complicate the global social landscape as their popularity has increased. Many of those services now offer features that rival and overlap with those of social networks, and in some markets their user bases are larger than that of Facebook. In Japan, for example, the messaging app Line is the leading social platform, while some sources indicate that in both Germany and the Netherlands, WhatsApp’s reach may be wider than that of parent company Facebook’s flagship network.
Social network users have also become more mobile-centric. Facebook data from Q4 2015 showed that the platform had a total of 1.4 billion monthly active mobile users worldwide, representing a year-over-year increase of 21.3%. The number of monthly mobile-only users grew by 13.2% to 823 million in the same time period. [Editor’s Note: eMarketer’s estimates for Facebook usage are lower than the company’s, as they exclude business, duplicate and nonhuman accounts.]
Facebook’s “Free Basics” app, which grants users free mobile access to certain websites, is likely to have driven some of the growth in mobile use of the platform. The websites included in the service vary by market, but all include Facebook as well as news, health and government services. The app has had its share of controversy, however, and was recently banned by the governments in both Egypt and India.
Worldwide, the number of social network users continues to rise, and they have more platforms to choose from than ever before. What’s more, consumers across the globe are dedicating more time to social networking. GlobalWebIndex estimated in September 2015 that nearly 30% of time spent online worldwide during Q2 2015 was devoted to social network activity.
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