Following on from my piece about writers using social media (here), I started to look at the available social media and found there are more than you can shake a stick at. Exploring, I wandered away down some very curious byways.
Here are some overall statistics (thanks to Datareportal and their Digital 2023 Global Overview Report).
There are 8 billion humans in the world and 5.16 billion (64.4%) of them are internet users. Social media users are fewer, but not much; 4.76 billion people use social media, which is 59.4% of the world’s population. During 2022, the number of Internet users increased by 1.9% and the number of active social media users was up by 3%.
In January 2023, social media, and chat and messaging apps, were used by nearly 95% of everyone who used the internet. (And 12.4% of everyone using the Internet in January bought and downloaded an e-book.) And which are the social media of choice? Facebook had 2.95 billion users in 2022. (And those figures are bolstered by 2 billion active users each for Instagram and WhatsApp, and 900 million more on FB Messenger. All these are Meta companies.) In second place was YouTube with 2.5 billion active users. Chinese WeChat comes a distant third with 1.3 billion, followed by Chinese owned TikTok on a little over 1 billion active users. (Twitter is placed 14th with “only” 556 million users, just ahead of Pinterest on 445 million.)
It’s impressive, even if we take some of those figures with a bit of salt. (As we should given that most are based on what each company itself says are the number of its active users. There’s very little impartial assessment going on here.)
More than you can shake a stick at
The list of the most popular social media in the Global Overview Report includes just 15 companies. But there are so many more – and the more you look, the more you find. Shops have them, news services have them, music and digital TV streaming services have them, publishing companies have them. Niche web sites like Wikipedia and Quora have them. Everybody, it seems, is trying to incorporate a social media element into their on-line company, how successfully it’s hard to say.
Almost everyone who uses social media has a favourite (and the top three are WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook). But few are wedded to just one. Facebook users also use Instagram (77.4%), YouTube (72.3%), TikTok (53%) and Twitter (49%); Twitter users also use Instagram (86.8%), Facebook (81%) and Pinterest (41%); Pinterest users also use Instagram (85.5%), Facebook (81%) and YouTube (76.9%); and so on. Worldwide, the average number of social media platforms one individual uses actively in a month is 7. In The US and the UK it’s 6, in India and Brazil it’s 8 or more.
The reason there are so many social media statistics is money, of course. Eyes on social media equates to eyes on advertising. The reason so many social media forums are free to use is because we pay in kind. The media systems harvest our information, our on-line habits, our interests, and sell that on to advertisers who target us with ads for things they think we can be persuaded to buy. And while games (both free and paid for) are the most popular downloads from Google Play and Apple’s App store, e-books are the 9th most common buy on Google and the 6th most common buy from Apple.
Social media footprint
It’s still my intention to try to develop my social media footprint this year. I ran into a bit of difficulty in February, but I’m getting myself back on track now. One idea was to revive my YouTube account by filming myself, and I thought I’d try to make a little animation with social media logos as a backdrop or incidental image for the videos. I ran into a problem when I realised how many social media there are. It seemed everywhere I turned, there was another one scuttling along.
A list of the top 20-odd networks was easy enough, and collecting their logos went smoothly. But then I realised I needed to include networks that are specifically useful for writers and readers. That took me off to explore book networks (GoodReads, LibraryThing, Litsy) and blogging networks (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr). And then I thought I would probably need to think about making money from writing, so that sent me off looking for publishers (Unbound, Amazon) and patrons (Patreon).
Too many logos!
Now I had too many logos. I ditched all the the big social media that operate principally in Chinese or Japanese (bye-bye Weibo and WeChat, so long Kuaishou and Rakuten). What I had left I tried to re-arrange in a pleasing colour spectrum. Here, what do you think?
And I’ve just realised I’m missing Substack and Smashmouth!