5 charts on the state of social media around the world

Nearly 80% of the world’s internet users are on social media. This landscape is still dominated by Meta in most markets, but use and ad spend is shifting away from Facebook and toward TikTok. Here are five charts that capture the worldwide state of social.

1. Where are people logged on?

The number of social media users worldwide will increase by 2.4% this year, according to our forecast. That’s a major slowdown from 2020, when the number of users increased by 10.8% during the pandemic.

A higher percentage of internet users are using social media, too. In 2020, 79.6% of internet users were social networkers. This year, that figure will be 80.8%.

2. Meta is still one of the world’s biggest ad companies

Despite Facebook’s decline, Meta remains second only to Google and YouTube’s parent company, Alphabet, in worldwide ad spend.

Total ad revenues fell at Meta in 2022, and we forecast Meta will make up 19.4% of worldwide digital ad spend this year, down from a peak of 22.0% in 2021.

ByteDance is one company taking over Meta’s digital ad share. TikTok and Douyin’s combined revenues will make up 5.8% of digital ad spend in 2023, up from 4.0% in 2021. But both companies need to watch their backs as retail media takes a bigger bite of digital ad share.

3. TikTok’s penetration nears 50% in some countries

Even as social media ad spend takes a hit, TikTok’s potential is astounding.

In Thailand, close to half (49.3%) of social network users are already on TikTok. That figure is a bit lower in the US, but will reach 49.1% by the end of 2026, according to our forecast. TikTok’s growth in the US will come in large part from older users. In 2022, the number of US users ages 65 and older nearly doubled, and double-digit growth will persist through 2025.

Remarkably, TikTok’s penetration even in its top markets is significantly lower than its sister app Douyin’s penetration in China, which will reach 77.4% of social users this year.

TikTok probably won’t ever see this type of saturation, especially in the US where Facebook and Instagram will remain relevant for at least a while longer, and even more specifically among older users. But if ByteDance continues to use China as a model for worldwide growth, the app’s retail and advertising potential will keep climbing.

4. A closer look at Latin America

In Latin America, where people spend more daily time with social media than anywhere else, Twitter and Facebook are hemorrhaging users as TikTok grows rapidly, according to our forecast.

TikTok is the fastest-growing social platform in Latin America. Its popularity is huge for ecommerce, specifically in Brazil, where the platform will launch TikTok Shop this year, noted our analyst Matteo Ceurvels.

And TikTok’s Latin America growth mirrors global trends. The platform will grow by 11.6% worldwide this year, per our forecast.

5. TikTok takes No. 3 in Canada

In Canada, TikTok will beat out both Snapchat and Twitter this year, becoming the country’s third-most used social platform. And just like in Latin America, Facebook and Twitter are losing users in Canada.

Meta still accounts for nearly a quarter (23.8%) of digital ad spend in Canada, but that share is dropping as Facebook loses relevance among younger users. Meta’s losses are also a result of increased privacy measures, reduced overall ad spend, and brand safety concerns, according to our analyst Paul Briggs.

What does this mean? Social media ad spend is in a cooling period across the board, but not all platforms or regions are facing the same degree of stress.

  • TikTok is still in good shape, especially in Latin America where users are quickly adopting the platform.
  • Facebook is still struggling. The platform has a massive head start in terms of ad spend, but privacy issues and static growth are catching up with the platform.
  • Advertisers should look beyond social. Most internet users are still logged on, but marketers may have more success investing in retail media or connected TV advertising.

This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more marketing insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.

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