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Mention the words “social media,” and most people instinctively think of the biggest U.S. social media platforms – such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But here’s the thing – the social media universe as you know it might actually be quite a bit different than you currently imagine it, thanks in large part to the arrival of major global competitors from China. Here’s a closer look at the social media universe in 2021.
1 – Twitter and LinkedIn don’t even rank among the Top 10 social media platforms
According to a very interesting infographic from the Visual Capitalist, Twitter and LinkedIn have far fewer monthly active users than even Pinterest or Reddit. Let that sink in for a moment. More people are carefully curating home decor photos on Pinterest or contributing to Reddit conversations than posting tweets on Twitter. As the Visual Capitalist points out, Twitter (326 million MAUs) and LinkedIn (310 million MAUs) trail Pinterest (367 million MAUs), Snapchat (397 million MAUs), and Reddit (430 million MAUs) in popularity.
2 – Some of the biggest social media platforms are not really even “social media”
Even more interesting, two of the Top 4 social media platforms in the world (WhatsApp and Messenger) are not even really “social media.” They are really communications platforms that specialize in one-to-one communication between two people. And what about Twitch (140 million MAUs) – isn’t that really a gaming platform? Thanks to the rise of new types of online content and new ways of communicating, we’re not really seeing the emergence of “Facebook clones” trying to out-Facebook Facebook. Instead, we’re seeing the rise of entirely new types of social experiences.
3- Five of the Top 10 social media platforms are Chinese
While Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Messenger rank as the top 4 social media platforms in the world, the surprising part here is that Chinese social media platforms occupy 5 of the Top 10 positions. The only other U.S. social media platform that ranks in the Top 10 is Instagram. WeChat, with 1.203 billion monthly active users, now ranks as the #5 social media platform in the world, and is on trajectory to eventually overtake Facebook.
4 – Global growth is coming from Asia
As a corollary to #3 above, it’s clear that the future of social media is Asia. There are so many huge, behemoth Asian social media platforms that are far larger than popular U.S. platforms, that this is now impossible to argue. If you think Twitter (326 million MAUs) is massive, then how would you describe Weibo (550 million MAUs), QZone (517 million MAUs), QQ (694 million MAUs), TikTok (800 million MAUs) or WeChat (1.2 billion MAUs)? Moreover, if you look at where the growth in U.S. platforms is coming from, the answer is also “Asia.” The largest Facebook audience, for example, is no longer in the USA – it’s in India. There are now 290 million monthly active Facebook users in India, compared to just 190 million in the United States. And don’t forget about the rise of social media juggernauts in places like Japan, which is home to the popular Viber social media platform.
What’s clear when looking through the numbers – and seeing the unique visualization provided by the Visual Capitalist – is that Mark Zuckerberg has assembled a huge “Zuckerberg Cluster” of big-time social media giants. Facebook ranks #1, WhatsApp ranks #2, Messenger ranks #4, and Instagram ranks #6. That’s four of the Top 10 social media platforms in the world, and each of them has between 1.082 billion and 2.6 billion monthly active users. Even with the rise of global giants elsewhere in the world (and especially in China), it’s easy to see that Facebook is a true juggernaut with unprecedented reach in today’s social media universe.