Global Social Media Statistics Research Summary 2022


Tells you what"s happening in Telecommunications around the world


The rise of social networkingChanging the website as we know it
photo credit: AFP/Photononstop

Historically, it used khổng lồ be enough khổng lồ have an onlinepresence on the internet for the one-way broadcastingand dissemination of information. Today, socialnetworks such as Facebook and Twitter are drivingnew forms of social interaction, dialogue, exchangeand collaboration. Social networking sites (referredto more broadly as social media) enable users toswap ideas, lớn post updates & comments, orto participate in activities & events, while sharingtheir wider interests. From general chit-chat topropagating breaking news, from scheduling a dateto following election results or coordinating disasterresponse, from gentle humour to serious research,social networks are now used for a host of differentreasons by various user communities.

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Social networking services are not just bringingInternet users into fast-flowing online conversations— social media are helping people khổng lồ follow breakingnews, keep up with friends or colleagues, contributeto online debates or learn from others. They aretransforming online user behaviour in terms of users’initial entry point, search, browsing and purchasingbehaviour. Some experts suggest that social mediawill become the Internet’s new tìm kiếm function — predicting that people will spend less time navigatingthe mạng internet independently and instead search forinformation or make decisions based on “word-of-mouth”recommendations from their friends, the so-called“friend-casting”. In the process, social mediaare changing users’ expectations of privacy, acceptableonline behaviour and etiquette — fast.

Morgan Stanley estimates that there were about830 million “unique” users of social networks worldwideat the over of 2009. Based on a total Internetuser population of 1.7 billion at the kết thúc of 2009,according to lớn’s World Telecommunication/ICTDevelopment Report 2010, this suggests that aroundhalf of all internet users could currently be using socialmedia applications. Current estimates of the numberof social truyền thông users vary significantly, partly due khổng lồ difficulties defining and categorizing sites and applicationsas “social networks”, but also due to lớn marginsof error in estimating the number of “unique” users(since users of one social network are more likely touse several other social networking services as well).

Many social network users access these servicesover their điện thoại phones. According lớn’s reportMeasuring the Information Society 2010, mobilebroadband subscriptions reached an estimated640 million at the over of 2009, driven by growingdemand for smartphones, new applications & socialnetworking services, & are set khổng lồ exceed 1 billionthis year. The market research firm eMarketerprojects that just over 600 million people will usetheir phones lớn tap into social networks by 2013,compared with 140 million in 2009. Facebook passedthe historic milestone of 500 million users on 21 July2010 — if Facebook were a country, it would be thethird most populous nation in the world after Chinaand India.

Figure 1 shows how many users are drawn tosome popular social networks in early 2010. Twitterenables its members khổng lồ post or send short (140-character)messages called “tweets”, whereby users canbroadcast what they are doing or thinking to lớn theworld, to closed “list” groups or khổng lồ other individualTwitterers. Its original question (“What are you doing?”)has been reinterpreted as: “What vị youfind interesting or funny?”, “What vày you think?”or “Please help spread the word!” (or sometimes allthree together). MySpace concentrates on music andentertainment, while LinkedIn targets career-mindedprofessionals. Orkut, a service owned by Google, isused mainly in India và Brazil, while in China, Qzoneis reportedly one of the largest social networkingsites with over 380 million registered accounts now.Other community sites include Skyrock in France, VKontakte in the Russian Federation, và Cyworldin the Republic of Korea. There are also numeroussmaller social networks that appeal khổng lồ specific interests,such as ResearchGATE, which connects scientistsand researchers, or to lớn languages or nationalities(for example, the Polish service with11 million users or Tuenti in Spain, with 4.5 millionusers).

Given that online content and traffic volumes areincreasingly interlinked with the pipes over whichthey are carried, it is vital lớn understand the demandsthat the evolution of social networks will make onunderlying information và communication technology(ICT) infrastructure. First & foremost, socialmedia are resulting in a huge explosion in demandfor capacity in both fixed và wireless infrastructure.Real-time connectivity is required, lớn ensure that statusupdates can be accessed và distributed instantlyacross networks. Geolocalization raises importanttechnical challenges in pinpointing, publishing anddisseminating users’ location in space as well as time,as well as questions over personal security.

Figure 1 — Twenty most popular social networking websites (according to Wikipedia), May 2010
Source: Wikipedia danh mục of Social Networks, at: as of May 2010.Note: Omits eBay, YouTube and Wikipedia itself & dating services.

At the WSIS forum in May 2010 in Geneva, co-organizedby, the United Nations Educational,Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO)and the United Nations Conference on Trade andDevelopment (UNCTAD), a high-level debate on“Social Networking” was held, which triggered livelydiscussions on political & social implications of socialnetworking for knowledge societies. The debate, organizedjointly by UNESCO and, brought together representativesof government, legislators, policy-makers,industry, civil society và users lớn exchange views onthe opportunities và threats of these tools for thefuture (see Pioneering the use of social networks at WSIS diễn đàn 2010).

Who are your friends?

In the information economy, Pete Cashmore, editorof Mashable (a key information portal for socialmedia services), suggests that your friends may becomecontent curators for your consumption, filteringinformation such as movies, books and televisionshows & making recommendations for your leisuretime online. He cites Facebook’s Connect programmeas one early example of this. Facebook’s most recentchanges lớn personalize the website will see emoticonsand friends’ avatars popping up all over users’ browsing.The nội dung of sites can be tailored khổng lồ readers’preferences, as defined by the preferences of theirsocial networks.

There will be a move from current personalizedadvertising (based on cookies and websites you havebrowsed recently) to lớn personalized web content, withsearch results ranked according to lớn your online profile,preferred language, profession or interests, as well asthe preferences of your online social networks — theweb you see may be shaped by the web your friendslike. The risk? Far from being a leveller of content andopening people’s eyes lớn the broader online world,Internet users’ world-view may in fact be restrictedand constrained by “filter bubbles” whereby they linkwith similar communities of like-minded individualssharing a similar outlook. Conversely, your activitiesand preferences could in turn influence your friends’surfing behaviour. Surfing online will no longer be aquestion of browsing the same sites as everyone elsein a vast online library of resources — the sites yousee may be predetermined or preselected khổng lồ suit yourtastes in advance.

The future social web may see users driving innovationand development in new applications.According khổng lồ Forrester, a technology và marketresearch company, social networks could becomemore powerful in building brands và relationshipsthan corporate websites and customer relationshipmanagement systems. In what Forrester calls “the era of social context”, sites will start lớn recognizepersonal identities and social relationships to lớn delivercustomized online experiences. One simple exampleof such a customized online experience is Facebookand LinkedIn’s ability to propose possible new friendsand contacts.

Internet traffic

The internet transports roughly 10 billion gigabytesof data a month — a figure that some observersexpect to quadruple by 2012. The market andadvertising research company Nielsen estimates thatthe average time spent on social networks grewfrom three hours in December 2008 to five & a halfhours in December 2009, based on a survey of socialmedia use in ten countries. Half of all sản phẩm điện thoại data usein the United Kingdom is accounted for by Facebook,so social truyền thông media look set lớn continue driving futuregrowth in traffic, with video-streaming applications(such as YouTube) expected to account for a largeproportion of that traffic.

Over the past seven years, internet data traffichas grown by a factor of 56, driven partly by peopleuploading more data. On average, people uploadedfifteen times more data in 2009 than they did justthree years previously. Cisco projects that global mobile data traffic will grow by sixty-six times from2008 to lớn 2013, with video forecast to account foraround 64 per cent of all global sản phẩm điện thoại data trafficby 2013 (Figure 2).

Figure 2 — Explosion in the demand for Video, 2008–2013 (estimates)
Source: Cisco, quoted at:

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Facebook is estimated to tài khoản for as much as25 per cent of all web traffic (taking into accountposted video). There are now over 60 million statusupdates to Facebook daily và 260 billion page viewsmonthly. Some 100 million users access Facebookover their mobile phones, accounting for a significant proportion of thiết bị di động web traffic. For example,half of smartphone web traffic in the United Kingdom isfor Facebook use.

In the United States, according khổng lồ a survey conductedin December 2009, Facebook usurped Googleas users’ favourite entry point to lớn the internet andnow directs a greater proportion of internet traffic(13 per cent) than eBay (at 7.6 per cent) và Google(at 7 per cent). Also in the United States, Facebookdisplaced Yahoo! as the leading advertiser of displayadvertisements in the first quarter of 2010 (Figure 3). Facebook traffic is expected to grow evenfaster, with the planned release in October 2010 ofthe movie entitled The Social Network, which tells the story of the Facebook founders và how theirvision turned into a social networking phenomenon.

Meanwhile, Twitter traffic continues to growexponentially, with users sending over 50 milliontweets a day by February 2010. However, manysources cảnh báo that estimates of the number of tweetsand page views over Twitter may be understated, asthey may omit users accessing it through third-partyclients from their desktop or smartphone devices.

Can the new internet players make money?

Despite the rapid growth of many social networkingservices, the central challenge remains — howcan these new mạng internet players generate cash? Somesocial media networks are just beginning to makemoney. Facebook is estimated to lớn have turned over roughly USD 1 billion in revenues in 2009 (Figure 4).Other than Google and Amazon, however, the newInternet players are still by & large waiting for thebillions to arrive.

Recent analysis carried out by the Organisation forEconomic Co-operation & Development (OECD) forsome of its member countries suggests that Internetplayers are the only group among the vị trí cao nhất 250 ICTfirms to have succeeded in significantly increasingtheir revenues relative khổng lồ the year 2000. However,the cash flows of internet players may have beensmall in 2000, and Google’s growing revenue has adisproportionate effect on the results — Google isstill ranked as the number one site on the web (accordingto the page ranking service Alexa), althoughFacebook is catching up fast.

Figure 3 — Facebook displaces Yahoo! as the leading advertiser of display advertisements in the first quarter of 2010Figure 4 — Strong growth for social media, by all counts

One factor long-argued to work in favour of thenew internet players is the current kích cỡ and futuregrowth potential of some social networks. These networksdo not need lớn make large amounts of moneyout of any individual user — just a small margin onsome — or better still, all users. This is the approachthat eBay has adopted in charging small commissionson online transactions, & also Google’s approachin deriving revenue from click-throughs.

Compelling nội dung is vitally important. But theoverriding difficulty lies in predicting what consumersare interested in at any time and channelling traffictowards promising content. Here, Google is at an immenseadvantage, with the vast stores of informationit possesses about people’s online surfing behaviour.Google Analytics enables webmasters (and Google)to identify how users arrive at sites, where they clickand what they are interested in. In contrast, Applehas essentially outsourced the problem of knowingwhat consumers want to its community of applicationdevelopers — who are also iPhone users.

Advertising is a tried & tested business modelwhich is already delivering commercial value. Virtualgoods have also been heralded as a new source ofrevenue (such as greetings cards, virtual flowers,e-books, music và ringtones), but the potential market value of this segment is so far largely unproven.Growing numbers of social media users (especiallychildren and youth) are buying virtual currencieswith real money khổng lồ purchase avatars và other itemsto decorate their social truyền thông media page.

As one of the earliest and most commercially viablesocial online communities to lớn date, one of eBay’smost valuable assets is its PayPal system (now almosta de facto virtual currency), as well as its loyal customerbase, customer relations and sophisticated onlinesystem for ranking users’ reputations. AlthougheBay is perceived by some as an e-commerce siterather than a “pure” social networking service, eBayfeatures many of the characteristics of social networks,including user-generated content, real-timestatus updates & messaging, & group interactionsbetween its online communities of buyers andsellers. It is one of the few social truyền thông sites that hasdelivered solid financial revenues & profits sinceits inception. Total company revenues are expectedto reach USD 10–12 billion in 2011, up from USD8.5 billion in 2008.

“A world of connections”, a special report onsocial networking, published by The Economist atthe over of January 2010, looks closely at the rise ofFacebook, MySpace and other social networks as businesses in their own right. It examines the economicmodels on which these networks are built. Italso highlights the way in which industries from videogamingto publishing are introducing elements ofsocial networking into their products and services. Itrecognizes that social networks are a topic of globalimportance for business leaders, governments, investorsand regulators alike.

Looking ahead

Social truyền thông are increasingly blurring the boundariesbetween work và play. & the online trackingand dissemination of news và views over social mediamean that people may now continue lớn live in amedia world long after the over of their working day.In their recently published social truyền thông media guidelines,the Reuters news organization observed that “thedistinction between the private & the professionalhas largely broken down online & you should assumethat your professional & personal social mediaactivity will be treated as one, no matter how hard you try to lớn keep them separate”. Identity andintellectual property issues take on new dimensionsin a world where it is increasingly difficult to lớn separateour professional và personal lives, both online andoffline.

Many social truyền thông media are fundamentally based onthe premise that people freely mô tả information anddata. Social media users are now determining how —and which — information is shared over the Internetby posting news, views, presentations, pictures andvideos, which they nói qua among friends, family, andother communities và acquaintances.

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The September 2010 issue of News will examinesome of the key privacy & security issues raisedby social media services, especially the way in whichthese services may (intentionally or unintentionally)“liberate” personal data over the public Internet,with limited user control or consent over its publicationand dissemination.

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