The internet users in this population are 4.54 billion and 3.8 billion are active social media users. The total penetration of the active social media users is 49% which shows the growth of 9.2% compared to January 2019.
During 2019-2025, the user base is expected to grow by more than 7% each year to total 5.6 billion users by 2025 from 3.5 billion in 2019.
Social media ad spending is expected to show a CAGR of 8.7% between 2019 and 2025 to reach USD 142.9 billion by 2023 from USD 89.9 billion in 2019.
- Definition / Scope
- Market Overview
- Market Risks
- Market Trends
- Industry Challenges
- Technology Trends
- Other Key Market Trends
- Market Size and Forecast
- Market Outlook
- Technology Roadmap
- Competitive Landscape
- Competitive Factors
- Key Market Players
- Strategic Conclusion
Definition / Scope
Social Media is the collective form of technology-enabled platforms that offer services by means of websites and applications, enabling communication through computer-based inputs, community-based interactions, collaboration, and content sharing in real-time. Meantime various platforms of social media have been introduced in the global market with its unique content sharing platforms.
Specialized platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. have been offering unique prospects to their customer base. Social media can be primarily differentiated based on their content and purpose.
Few examples of social media-based content are YouTube for videos, Spotify for audio, Instagram for photography, and twitter for words-based content. Few examples of social media based on purpose are Tiktok for acting based talent showcase, LinkedIn for professional networking, and Facebook for informal networking.
The world’s population has reached 7.75 billion in January 2020. The unique mobile users during the time are 5.19 billion, an estimate of 67% penetration rate.
The internet users in this population are 4.54 billion and 3.5 billion are active social media users. The total penetration of the active social media users is 49% which shows the growth of 9.2% compared to January 2019.
|Region (Population) 2019||Internet Penetration||Social Media Penetration|
|Africa (1.32 bn)||34%||16%|
|America (1.02 bn)||76%||67%|
|Asia-Pacific (4.30 bn)||56%||50%|
|Europe (849.5 mn)||84%||55%|
|Middle East (258.8 mn)||70%||40%|
The chart illustrates the population distribution in various regions and their share of mobile phone connections, internet users, and active social media users. The illustration depicts followings:
- The active social media user’s penetration is least in Africa (16%) whereas it is highest in America (67%).
- Asia-Pacific has the highest social media users actively, whereas social media has a 50% penetration rate which shows the green field is yet to fully exploit.
|Total number of active social media users||3.5 Billion|
|Social media penetration (users vs total population)||49%|
|Annual Growth in the total number of social media users||+9.2%|
|Total number of social media users accessing via mobile phones||3.75 Billion|
|Percentage of total social media users accessing via mobile||99%|
The total active social media users reached 3.5 billion worldwide in 2019. It is 49% of the total population. The annual growth rate is around 9.2%.
99% of social media users are mobile phone users. On average a person spends around 2 hours and 24 minutes in using social media on around 9 social media accounts.
|Visited or used a Social Network or Messaging service in the past month||97%|
|Actively engaged with or contributed to social media in the past month||87%|
|The average amount of time per day spent using social media||2 Hr 24 Min|
|The average number of social media accounts per internet users||8.6|
|Percentage of Internet users who use social media for work purposes||43%|
|Social Media||Rank based on visits|
YouTube is the world’s most visited platform with social media segment, rank standing at number 2. Facebook and Baidu enjoys third and fourth ranking in terms of highest footfall globally.
Similarly, Twitter and Instagram lie within top ten ranking. Whatapp has a 20th rank based on total visits.
|Social media penetration %||99||79||71||70||66||56||47||23||12|
UAE has the highest social media penetration rate standing at 99% while Nigeria’s social media penetration stood least at 12% in 2019.
- User Engagement
The social media businesses heavily rely on users’ level of engagement. The success is determined by the extent of how much they could add, retain, and engage active users in their platform so that the other side of the multi-sided customer platform generates revenue for business.
A number of social media companies that achieved early popularity have since then witnessed their customer base decline because the customers were not willing to digest its offerings since the other players appear in the market with a unique product/service offering.
Existing players that fail to offer new features, don’t upgrade the application as per the device compatibility of the users, and are unable to secure privacy negatively affect the business.
- Revenue loss
All of the revenue that social media companies make generates from third party advertisement. No third party marketers have long term contract with any media platform. Such marketers spend relatively low percentage of their advertising budget on social media.
If the marketers believe that their ROI is doesn’t generate a competitive return relative to other alternatives they will not hesitate to switch their business with the other options.
Decrease in the user content, decrease in time spent by users, not maintaining quality of ads that attracts audiences, adverse government policies relating to digital advertising, could adversely affect the revenue.
The digital platforms are prone to cyber-attacks by third parties seeking unauthorized access to users’ data including personal information, content, payment information and consequently its misuse.
Likewise, computer malware, viruses, phishing, and general hacking have become prevalent in the industry. Fake user accounts are another key issue faced by the social media companies.
- Internet Connectivity
The internet penetration is directly proportional to the active social media users. Further, Google and Space X have launched their respective projects to ease the availability of the internet to its customers. Google station is available in 125 locations in South Africa which offers free, fast, and open access internet.
In October 2019, Space X announced that the company was requesting permission from the Federal Communications Commission to operate as many as 30,000 satellites on top of the 12,000 already approved.
Space X has launched 60 Star link satellites to offer internet access around the globe by November 2019.This shall further increase internet penetration in days to come and hence increase the active social media users.
The growth of internet users is higher in Middle Africa and Southern Asia viz 40% and 20% growth rate respectively. Meanwhile, internet penetration is highest in Northern Europe and least in Middle Africa.
The internet penetration is expected to increase mainly to be contributed by the low latency and cheaper internet connectivity price. The advent of 5G technology will further boost internet connectivity and further social media.
- Digital Marketing
Most of the companies are pushing most of its marketing related activities through social media. SEO, big data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have been exploited to reach its target market segment through the use of social media.
With the internet users of more than half the population of world spending as much as 2.5 hours a day in various social media platforms, it has been proved to be a very effective platform for the companies to market and create an effective brand. It has been estimated as much as USD 36.14 billion had been spent in digital advertisements in the US alone.
43% of the customers perform online research of products via social networks before making a buying decision. The influence in the customer’s buying behaviour is immense through branding and marketing through social media.
Privacy is one of the global issues in the digital era. Privacy is a contradiction to the business process of social media companies. As companies try to avenue from the data, they exploit the information from its user base.
It came in limelight when Cambridge Analytica’s breach of Facebook data was exposed where the private data from social media platforms and elsewhere were used to manipulate opinions for the benefit of a few.
For example, it was stated that the Russian operation Internet Research Agency was interfering in the U.S. presidential election of 2016 by using social media to spread disinformation that stirred up conflict and distrust.
It has been stated that 89% of the world’s internet users are being actively monitored which is around 3 billion people.
- Data Security
Hackers, malicious malware, botnet attacks have endeavoured the internet more than ever. It is stated that 13 percent of US citizens have faced an unauthorized use in their social media accounts.
These hacks have not seen stolen information but also the redirection of followers and engagement to malware which further erupts to a huge mass. Criminals are adept at tricking social media users into handing over sensitive information, stealing personal data, and gaining access to accounts users consider private.
Botnet attacks have been used by criminals to steal data, send spam, and launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that help cybercriminals gain access to people’s devices and networks. As these security concerns are ever-rising, it possesses a huge challenge for social media to abide by the regulatory body to avoid further breaches.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence has been embedded by various social media platforms where the people to be tagged are automatically referred to the users. Social media for entertainment like Tiktok and Smule uses AI to automatically refer to the videos or music to related users.
The use of bots in replying to a pre-stated set of answers is also an example where Artificial Intelligence has been used in social media. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. are using behavioural psychology to train its users to use the app over and over through the pattern of information the platform has collected from the history of the user’s behavioural pattern.
It is estimated that the total external investment of approximately USD 8 billion to USD12 billion towards AI in 2016.
- Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality has already made a huge impact on social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. AR filters and lenses are in tremendous use and are popular among social media users.
Snapchat has released several shoppable AR which allows brands to promote their websites, share videos, or allow people to install the applications.
Facebook has introduced the Facebook AR Studio, a very powerful tool for developers and artists who want to build their own interactive Facebook camera experiences which have enabled the users to use various AR-related features.
The value of the AR market stands at USD 3.5 billion. It has been expected that the total users of AR will be 1 billion by 2020. AR is one of the popular media among digital marketers as 67% of media planners and buyers want AR/VR ads in digital marketing campaigns.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
Integrating with IoTs, social media platforms have explored another big platform which generates huge data further enhancing its grip in the future. Foursquare, a social platform for local discovery uses locations through various IoTs to galvanize its integrity and trustworthiness.
Similarly, Tencent, the maker of WeChat, is working closely with IoT cloud provider Ayla Networks to explore ways for consumers to control their living environment through the WeChat app. They have introduced an operating system for smart devices.
Enabling social media in other IoTs will enable us to gross its avenues from e-commerce platforms or other digital portals which shall engage more of its customers and create a more holistic platform for the future.
Other Key Market Trends
Social Media- “a News Center”
Social Media has expanded its paradigm not just for networking but also as an effective news circulation media. Around 43% of US adults receive news on social media sites before news portals or TV channels reach them.
The number is staggering as media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have been associated as one of the official media for news announcements. The future might bring even more indigenous development in the sector.
Impact of COVID-19- The rise of the new Social Media platform
“With crisis comes a new opportunity”. ZOOM has established itself as a no. 1 video conferencing platform during the crisis of COVID-19. The comparing has a soaring rise in its revenue to USD 328.2 million which is a rise of 169% compared to the previous year. It has estimated the total revenue to be USD 1.8 billion by 2021.
Zoom pulls in around 200 million daily video users worldwide during lockdown from the previous maximum of 10 million.
Ecommerce platform for SMEs- Social Media
Social media such as Facebook and Instagram have successfully developed their platform to create a commerce platform through the platform. For those SMEs, investment in their personal app development and reaching their target market is quite expensive.
Hence, these platforms not only help to sell their products but also reach their target market through the organic and inorganic approach.
Financial hub-Social Media
WeChat has a subsidiary platform, WeChat Pay, where it allows its users to make financial transactions in taxi fare payments, purchase from e-commerce platforms. It boasts 1 billion commercial transactions per day. There are 50 million active merchants currently in the platform.
Facebook has also launched its payment platform Facebook Pay where it aims to serve the transactions for its users based on Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
Market Size and Forecast
Global advertising is projected to reach USD 818.40 billion by 2025, expanding at a CAGR of around 6.3% during the forecast period 2019-2025. The advertising market reached USD 556.07 billion worldwide in 2019. Social media owns about 13% of the global ad spend.
Social media is expected to have an unprecedented impact on health, agriculture sectors by 2025.
|Year||Social Media User Base (in millions)||Growth Rate (percentage)|
In 2019, there were 3.5 billion social media users worldwide, 9% increase from the previous year. During 2019-2025, the user base is expected to grow by more than 7% each year to total 5.6 billion users by 2025.
India added 130 million social media users in 2019 alone followed by 15 million rise in the user base in China. There were 12 million additions in social media users in Indonesia in 2019. Similarly, Brazil and Iran added 11 million and 9 million population to its social media user base respectively in 2019.
Facebook accounts for the most used social media platform with monthly active users of around 2.5 billion which is followed by an online video streaming platform of YouTube with 2.0 billion active monthly users.
The total revenue generated by the top 5 social media companies is USD 97.77 billion in 2019 with a growth rate of 28% compared to the previous year. With CAGR 28%, the revenue of these top 5 social media giants is expected to be USD 425 Billion by 2025.
The major increase in active social media users is expected to be in the Asia Pacific and Africa. This is expected to be boosted by the population size India and China boasts in the region. With the advent of more internet penetration, low latency, and an increase in connectivity advancement (5G), the growth rate is expected to maintain its health.
|Internet Advertising Revenue in USD million||Russia||US||Germany||China||India||Indonesia||Japan|
In the US, internet advertising revenue surpassed USD 100 billion for the first time in 2019. The internet advertising revenue generated in US stood USD 88 billion in 2019.
The second highest internet Ad earning was recorded at USD 57.15 billion in China. Japan ranked third in terms of dollar value earning from internet advertising reporting USD 13.23 billion during the same period.
Other emerging like Russia, Germany, India, and Indonesia had the revenue generation well above USD 1 billion mark in 2019.
Social media represents 25.2% of overall internet advertising revenue.
Indonesia will witness the highest CAGR of 20.2% in revenue earning during 2019-2025. The advertising market will generate USD 6.5 billion in revenue by 2025.
In India, ad revenue is forecasted to total USD 3.18 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 16.2%.
The third most growth region will be Russia where the internet revenue is projected to reach USD 8.15 billion by 2025 growing at a CAGR of 15%.
Ad revenue in China is likely to see double digit growth during the forecasted period and is estimated to surpass USD 100 billion in 2025.
The advertising market in US and Germany is undergoing the saturation phase with growth in advertising revenue happening at single digit, however, the growth rate is projected to be over 5%.
In Japan, the earning from Ad is estimated to grow at CAGR 4.6%, and will reach USD 17.33 billion by 2025.
|Social media advertising revenue||2018||2019||2020||2021||2022||2023||2024||2025|
|in billion USD||28.9||41.52||60.51||87.56||127||183.66||265.28||383.86|
Overall, the revenue from social media advertising was recorded at USD 41.52 billion, an increase of 43.67% from the previous year.
By 2021, the total revenue is projected to double reaching USD 87.56 billion and thereafter, there will be dramatic surge in the earning, growing at a whooping rate, the figure is forecasted to surpass USD 380 billion by 2025.
Social media ad spending is expected to show a CAGR of 8.7% between 2019 and 2025 to reach USD 142.9 billion by 2023 from USD 89.9 billion in 2019.
VKontakte is the most visited social medial platform in Russia. Other popular social media platforms in Russia are Instagram and Odnoklassniki. Social media in Russia will drive digital advertising coupled with growing number of mobile internet subscribers.
The unique mobile subscriber in Russia and CIS reached 237.2 million in 2019 and is predicted to reach 244.3 million by 2024. The mobile internet penetration is well above 85% in the region. Social media penetration reached 49% in 2019.
310 million Indian were on social media in 2019. Social media penetration reached 23% in India. TikTok app downloads in India surpassed 150 million in 2019. Youtube, Facebook, and Whatsapp are the top social media platforms used by Indians.
India is Facebook’s second largest market. Social media and search advertising combined make up 55% of the total digital media spends in 2019.
The USA accounts for a big chunk of the global social media ad spend, showing a 7.7% growth between 2019 and 2025. Data shows that it has shown a faster growth than display advertising in the last few years and accounts for USD 102.08 billion internet advertising, of which, the social media ad spend accounted for 20% in 2019.
Internet penetration reached 57% in 2019. The total internet users grew 6.7% in 2019 from the previous year. China has 819.9 million active social media users in 2019 with 71% social media penetration rate.
Facebook and Instagram audiences are quite low standing below 0.3% compared with the population in China. However, WeCHat and QQ are the most popular social media platforms in China with user base surpassing 1.15 billion and 731 million in 2019 respectively.
Social media companies compete with other companies that sell advertising and with companies that offer social, media, and communication services engaging users on the Internet.
Companies in this sector facilitate communication, sharing of contents in the form of video, audio, and still pictures and compete in a domestic as well as international market.
Youtube faces competition from other forms of advertising, such as billboards, magazines, newspapers, radio, and television since advertisers typically advertise in multiple media, both online and offline.
On average a social media user uses around 8.6 accounts. The competitive advantage is based on the type of social media.
For example, Facebook is more an informal social networking platform where users share photo, video and their views whereas Instagram is a photo-sharing platform, Twitter are for the tweets (words) and YouTube is a video streaming platform.
This showcases the users are obliged to use different social media platforms based on the USP offers. However, social media have started to expand its offers to increase its user base, meanwhile diluting its USP.
For example, a photo-sharing platform, Instagram has launched IGTV, a video sharing platform; Facebook has started a live video sharing feature.
A comparative study to the social media users in the highest internet users’ countries is depicted in the graph below.
Facebook boasts as a market leader and has it has its highest users in India, followed by the US, Indonesia, Brazil, and Mexico. There is 260 Million potential advertising reach in India whereas the US, Indonesia, Brazil, and Mexico have 180 Million, 130 million, 120 million, and 84 million respectively.
Instagram has the highest userbase in the US with 120 million whereas India, Brazil, Indonesia,and Mexico have 80 million, 77 million, 63 million, and 24 million respectively.
Meanwhile, the user of Snapchat is high in the US compared to other countries by a huge number. The userbase of Snapchat in the US is 101.25 million. Similarly, LinkedIn and Twitter have the highest user base in the US.
The popularity, ease of use, and trustworthiness of the application is the key factor to achieve superior competitive advantage.
The size and composition of user base determines the revenue stream that they could grab from the marketers.
The privacy is another emerging issue that the users and regulatory body is worried about; protecting user data and its control by users themselves has currently been the key issue.
Key Market Players
Facebook Inc. is a social media company that enables people to connect and share through mobile devices, personal computers and other surfaces.
The Company’s products include Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and Oculus. Facebook enables people to connect, share, discover and communicate with each other on mobile devices and personal computers.
Instagram enables people to take photos or videos, customize them with filter effects, and share them with friends and followers in a photo feed or send them directly to friends.
Messenger allows communicating with people and businesses alike across a range of platforms and devices. WhatsApp Messenger is a messaging application that is used by people around the world and is available on a range of mobile platforms.
Its Oculus virtual reality technology and content platform offers products that allow people to enter an interactive environment to play games, consume content and connect with others.
Facebook has 2.45 billion active users as reported in 2020. The platform reaches 1.95 billion users through advertisement. This is 32% of the population aged 13+ that marketers can reach with an advertisement on Facebook.
WhatsApp is owned by Facebook Inc in 2014 in a deal worth USD 19 Billion. WhatsApp is ranked 3rd most downloaded app between 2010 to 2019. There are currently 1.6 Billion monthly active users.
Instagram is owned by Facebook Inc in 2012 in a deal worth USD 1 billion and is the 4th ranked most downloaded app during 2010 to 2019. There are currently 1 billion users and 928.5 million users can be reached with an advertisement on the platform.
Its market capitalization reached USD 659.28 billion in June 2020. Facebook made USD 70.70 billion revenue from advertisement in 2019.
Instagram generated USD 20 billion in Ads revenue in 2019. Moreover, Instagram had 1.1 billion active monthly users in 2019.
Alphabet Inc. is a holding company of Youtube. The Company’s businesses include Google Inc. (Google) and its Internet products, such as Access, Calico, CapitalG, GV, Nest, Verily, Waymo and X.
The Google segment includes its Internet products, such as Search, Ads, Commerce, Maps, YouTube, Google Cloud, Android, Chrome and Google Google Play, as well as its hardware initiatives. The Google segment is engaged in advertising, sales of digital content, applications and cloud offerings, and sales of hardware products.
The Other Bets segment is engaged in the sales of Internet and television services through Google Fiber, sales of Nest products and services, and licensing and research and development (R&D) services through Verily.
It offers Google Assistant, which allows users to type or talk with Google; Google Maps, which helps users navigate to a store, and Google Photos, which helps users store and organize all of their photos.
YouTube has a monthly growth of over 2 billion users. This accounts for 33% of the population aged 13+ that logs in to the platform each month. One billion hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day.
Revenue from YouTube Ads was up from USD 11,155 million in 2018 to USD 15,149 million in 2019. YouTube contributed 9.36% of Alphabet’s USD 161,857 million revenue generation in 2019. Alphabet Inc.’s market capitalization stood USD 997.92 billion in June 2020.
WeChat is owned by Tencent, which is a Chinese tech giant. Unlike other social media platforms, we chat offers everything with integration of messaging, browsing, payment, and booking in one app.
It has a multiple mini-programs within its app. It is China’s most popular social media and payment platform and third largest globally. It has a user base of more than 1 billion people.
- Tik Tok
TikTok is a short-form video platform where users share videos covering a wide range of categories, from lip syncing to comedic skits to viral challenges. TikTok is the product of ByteDance, a Chinese internet and technology company USD 75 billion.
In 2016, ByteDance first launched short video app in China called Douyin. Later, earning popularity in the home market and seeing opportunity to expand in international market, the company launched the same app in overseas market with a new name TikTok in 2017.
Meanwhile, as TikTok was gaining traction in international market, Musical.ly, which was already popular in the USA, appeared as a competitor. In the same year, TikTok bought Musical.ly at a deal of USD 1 billion.
Without cannibalizing Musical.ly, both went in operation but in the different markets. However, Musical.ly was shut down in 2018 after merging it into TikTok. It helped many budding artists go viral and rise through its platform.
Snapchat has 382 million active users every month. The number of users has increased by 5.9% in the quarter to quarter change in Snapchat’s advertising reach. The platform has around 36% of users in the age group of 18-34.
Snapchat accounted for revenue of USD 1.715 billion in 2019, an increase of 45% compared to its 2018’s revenue. The capital expenditure during this period is USD 36.48 million.
Twitter has 340 million active users each month. The company has a market capitalization of USD 25.02 million. The number of users has decreased by 3.1% in the quarter to quarter change in Snapchat’s advertising reach.
Twitter accounted for revenue of USD 3.459 billion in the year 2019; a rise of 14% compared to 2018.
LinkedIn has around 664 Million users that can be reached with advertisements. The company is owned by Microsoft Inc. The revenue generated by the company in 2019 is 6.754 billion, a rise of 27% compared to 2018.
|Social Media Apps||Number of Users in million in 2019|
Social media is a growing industry with unlimited opportunities. This will be boosted by the advent of technologies like 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, etc.
The Asia Pacific region and Africa have tremendous growth potential. But the growing concern of data privacy and security poses a huge concern.
It is yet to see how the tech giants will govern contemporary issues and take social media usage to the next level. The psychological behaviour adds to the opportunity as the human tendency to remain social.