Top 5 Most Popular Social Media Apps in 2023

Tapping into online communities and social media trends with a strong social media presence is one of the most effective ways to drive leads to your business these days. Knowing which platforms are seeing a rise in monthly active users is key to deciding where you should focus your social media strategy and grow a strong online presence. This can be hard, with new social media platforms entering the fray all the time, all with different uses and differing user demographics.  In this article, we’ll go over the top social media apps in 2023, their user base demographic, and how people use them in their daily lives. Figures are sourced from Statista.

Facebook, The World’s Biggest Social Networking App

Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform and the first of its kind to reach such a massive scale. According to Statista, the pioneering social networking site had just under three billion monthly users as of the second quarter of 2023. That’s a staggering number – almost 40% of the world’s entire population. Aside from having the highest number of users, it’s also the platform people in the US spend the most time on, at an average of 33 minutes per day. An astounding 1.7 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook every minute.

Interestingly, Facebook is the main source of news for many people. In 2023, 29% of respondents to a survey in the United States said that they used Facebook for news more than any other social media platform or other meta platform. Facebook is also the most popular platform for social media: According to a global survey in January 2023, 89% of responding social media marketers used the network to promote their business.

When Facebook launched in 2004, it was primarily just a way for people to connect with one another, reminiscent of the now-obsolete Myspace, allowing users to post personal updates and follow other users.  Today, Facebook has become much more than just a one-dimensional social networking platform, now having plentiful and ever-evolving features. These include Facebook Marketplace, which allows users to buy and sell products and services. There are also Facebook Events, live-streaming, Facebook Gaming, and the most recent edition – Facebook Podcasting, launched in 2021.

Facebook Groups are another popular feature, facilitating users who share similar interests to connect with each other and form a community. Additionally, the platform’s video-sharing features enable users to post both long-form and short-form videos, competing with TikTok and YouTube.

Meta Platform, formerly Facebook Inc, also owns Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger – all massive and continually growing social media platforms in their own right. This conglomeration of many social platforms dominating the social media landscape is known as ‘the metaverse’ since the 2021 rebrand. 

YouTube, The Biggest Video-Sharing Platform

YouTube has the second-highest number of monthly users of any social media platform in 2023, sitting at just over 2.5 billion monthly active users. YouTube was launched in 2005 and acquired by Google a year later for $1.65 billion. It was the premiere social media platform allowing users to share their own amateur video content with an audience, a novelty at the time. Since then, it has ballooned in popularity, with 38% of the global population using YouTube regularly in 2023.

 That figure only includes adults, let alone the huge number of children that use the platform. Unlike other social media platforms that have a minimum age of 13, YouTube taps into an entire demographic other platforms don’t officially, with its ‘YouTube Kids’ app. According to a 2020 study from the Pew Research Centre, 80% of all parents with a child age 11 or younger say their child watches YouTube, with 53% reporting that their child watches it daily.

YouTube has a huge audience in India, far surpassing other countries. As of July 2023, India has a whopping 467 million YouTube users. The US trails behind in second place with 246 million users, and Brazil comes in second place with 142 million users.

The volume of content on the video streaming site can’t be understated – 500 hours of video are uploaded to the website every minute as of 2021. Much includes ad breaks, and content with a wide reach often includes in-video sponsorships as well. This makes YouTube one of the best social media platforms for video advertising and influencer marketing, and the numbers back this up – In a survey from Hubspot, 56% of marketers surveyed in 2022 said YouTube offers the biggest ROI from marketing campaigns. YouTube’s worldwide advertising revenue reached 6.67 billion US dollars in the first quarter of 2023.

In 2021, YouTube Shorts was released, enabling users to post vertical videos between 15 seconds and 1 minute in length, comparable to TikTok and the Instagram Reels feature. As of 2022, YouTube Shorts have collectively received over 5 trillion views, following the trend in recent years of shorter-form video content many social media platforms are adopting.

Instagram, Photo-Sharing and Beyond

Instagram, another social platform owned by Metaverse, has the third-highest monthly active users of any social media site in 2023, at 2 billion.  Instagram was launched in 2010 and was initially pretty simple: users could share 1:1 pictures with their followers and overlay filters on top. The concept took off, and Metaverse bought the app for $1 billion in 2012.

 Instagram is particularly popular among younger audiences when compared to platforms like Facebook, with a more diverse audience. Almost 31% of global Instagram audiences are aged between 18 and 24 years, and 30.3% of users are aged between 25 and 34 years. Only 15.7% of users belonged to the 35 to 44-year age group. In terms of location demographics, Instagram is the most popular in India, with 201 million users. The US isn’t far behind at 157 million Instagram users. 

In the past decade, the number of features Instagram offers has increased significantly. Users can send instant messages with Instagram Direct, post Snapchat-style disappearing posts on Instagram Stories, watch short-form videos called ‘reels,’ and discover brands in the Instagram Shop function. Instagram Stories is one of the most popular features, directly competing with Snapchat. In January 2019, Instagram reported that 500 million users make use of the feature daily. 

Companies can advertise on Instagram by sponsoring either video or image posts to show up in users’ feeds, much like Facebook and many other social media platforms. This is known as ‘pay-per-click’ advertising, meaning businesses pay a small amount every time someone clicks on their sponsored post. The average cost per click on Instagram ads is between $0.70 USD and $1.00 USD.

WeChat, The Most Downloaded Social Media App in China

WeChat is a highly popular Chinese social networking app with 1.3 billion monthly active users. WeChat is owned by Tencent, a multinational technology conglomerate headquartered in Shenzhen. It was originally launched as an instant messaging app but evolved over time into a full-fledged social media platform. It has so many features that it’s often referred to as a ‘super app,’ negating the need for internet users to use other apps and platforms. Features include the ability to make payments with a digital wallet, share ‘moments’ with followers, shop, make video calls, and even translate things from English to Chinese.

This is not an all-inclusive list – the app is essentially a mix of Google, Apply Pay, Facebook and WhatsApp. The WeChat platform also offers ‘mini-programs.’ These are small, self-contained apps that exist within the WeChat app itself. They are a unique feature of WeChat and provide a way for users to access various services and functionalities without the need to download separate apps from an app store. This means users can order food within the app, book flights, read books, and play games all within the app- the options are essentially limitless. Tencent provides a development framework and tools for creating Mini Programs, making it relatively straightforward for developers to build and deploy these mini-apps and making it easy for brands to leverage them.

This combination of social news aggregation and essential everyday functionalities results in staggering use statistics: According to the most recent official stats from the platform in 2018, there are 800 million monthly active WeChat Pay users alone, and 50% of users spend 90 minutes per day on WeChat.

TikTok, The Most Popular Platform of 2023 Among Youth

TikTok is a short-form video-sharing app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, and one of the most downloaded apps globally. It was launched in September 2016 as an international version of Douyin. It saw a massive rise in popularity amid the Covid lockdowns, surpassing 2 billion users in October 2020. It now has just over 1 billion monthly active users worldwide and is particularly popular among young users, with 38% of its monthly active users being between the ages of 18-24. Music integration and user-generated content are the pillar stones of TikTok, making it a ripe breeding ground for viral music-based trends. 

The TikTok app allows users to post videos between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long and is well-known for its intuitive algorithm that encourages people to scroll onwards and onwards. As a result, it has the highest daily usage time of any app in the US. As of January 2023, TikTok users in the United States spent 32%  of the time they dedicated to social media engagement on TikTok, compared to 20% on Facebook and Instagram, respectively. 

TikTok’s popularity among Gen Z has made it a highly effective platform to advertise on through sponsored posts, particularly for brands with a younger target market. According to a recent article from the Financial Times, TikTok is projected to generate $14.15 billion in advertising revenue in 2023, up from $9.89 billion in 2022. 

TikTok has been giving other platforms with short-form video content a run for their money with its meteoric rise in monthly active users. It might soon do the same for music streaming services – in July 2023, TikTok Music was announced, a feature that allows users to share, listen to, and download music. The feature is currently only available in Indonesia and Brazil but is expected to expand to other countries in the coming months,

Current Social Media Usage Statistics Worldwide

According to Forbes, an estimated 4.9 billion people use online social media globally as of 2023. This number will only continue to rise steadily in the coming years, estimated to reach approximately 5.85 billion users by 2027. This makes social media platforms a bustling hub for businesses to reach customers, with 90% of social media users following at least one brand’s social media account. Gone are the days when print and TV advertising was king. Social media marketing offers opportunities for businesses that these older forms of marketing just can’t- like the ability to make the most of trends quickly and interact with their audience. This results in a more engaged relationship between brands and consumers, allowing businesses to build stronger brand loyalty and memorability.

The average social media user spreads their time across 6 different social media platforms, emphasising the need to cross-post on multiple platforms to reach as many people as possible. This isn’t as time-consuming as it sounds – social media scheduling apps like Publer allow users to publish a post on multiple social media sites at once with a few clicks.

One more statistic to hammer home the power of social media: the average person spends 145 minutes on social media a day. That adds up to 879 hours a year, or just over an entire month spent on social media every year. It’s clear to see why the social media advertising market is expected to reach $207 billion in 2023.

Who Is Using Social Media Apps the Most, and Where?

China uses social media more than any other country, with 1.02 billion active users in 2022. India isn’t far behind, with 755 million monthly active users. The United States comes in third place with 302 million users – 88% of its total population.

Unsurprisingly, younger age groups are the most likely to be active social media users – most of Gen Z would be unable to remember the world before social media. 84% of people between 18 and 29 use at least one social media platform as of 2023, and 81% of people between 30 and 49. That’s not to say older people aren’t highly active on social media as well. 73% of people between 50 and 64 use at least one social media site range, and 45% of people in the 65-plus group.

There aren’t any available 2023 statistics for how many women use social media compared to men, but according to results from a Statistica survey, there was quite a difference in 2021. 78% of adult women in the United States used at least one social media site, compared to just 66% of men.  

If you’re trying to up your social media game but struggling with content ideas, our free content idea generator can help. Posting regularly is important for the algorithm and your audience, and this tool is designed to help with that and take some of the stress out of trying to build your online presence.

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