When we think of social networks, we think about how they connect us to a variety of different audiences. We acknowledge that different platforms connect us to a variety of different social groups as well as a variety of content and media.
- Facebook, for example, is great for helping us to connect with people within our local environment, such as family and friends.
- Twitter, on the other hand, helps us to communicate with people we may have never met in our lives.
- YouTube is less about connecting with people, and more about accessing content, although the ‘people element’ certainly comes into play.
- Google+ is a newcomer compared to the others, but it is growing quickly and tries to combine aspects of all three big platforms into one place (don’t forget, Google owns YouTube!)
Perhaps what many of us do not consider is how these networks are used by others outside of our own national borders.
Bit.ly To The Rescue
In March 2013 bit.ly, the popular URL shortening service, performed a series of tests throughout 2012 to monitor how users across the world accessed the variety of different social networks.
Must Read: Improving Your Social Media Strategy
They did this by monitoring:
- The number of clicks a bit.ly link incurred and by users from which countries, and
- The different platforms users from each country accessed the bit.ly links from
To help narrow the scope, bit.ly limited their range to the top 20 social networks used by both western and eastern societies.
There were some obvious and expected results, such as:
- Russian social networking sites Odnoklassniki and VK proved to be popular with Russian speaking audiences.
- Many of the Western networking sites were practically untouched by Chinese societies due to the heavy restrictions; however, Chinese based social networking sites such as Douban, Renren, Weibo and QQ are popular in these regions.
However, there were also some unexpected results that were generated during the bit.ly research. These include:
- Iranian audiences demonstrated high uses of LinkedIn and Google+ (however, it is worth noting that both Facebook and Twitter are blocked to Iranians).
- South Koreans are highly interested in Tumblr.
- Mongolians access YouTube very highly compared to other social networking sites.
- Saudi Arabians are fast growing an appetite for Twitter.
Suffice it to say, the results of the bit.ly research are absolutely fascinating, and the interactive data gathered from this research can be seen at the bit.ly Github page.
Figures for the Five Big Networks
Obviously the five biggest social media networks are:
Facebook – Estimated 1.11 billion users worldwide (as of May 2013)
Twitter – Estimated 554 million users worldwide (as of April 2013)
YouTube – Estimated 1 billion unique users worldwide (monthly figure – as of March 2013)
LinkedIn – Estimated 200 million users worldwide (as of January 2013)
Google+ – Estimated 500 million registered user worldwide (as of December 2012)
It’s important to realize that most of these figures are based on the total number of registered users, and that active monthly user numbers for each network are closely monitored (but not always publicly shared).
If you’re interested in the geographical demographics of social media use then you should take a look at the SocialBakers analytics pages.
You can use this site to check out the geographic demographics for countries, continents and even cities across all five of the biggest social networks.
This is a guest post by Alexandra Seremina who works with Azoft (http://www.azoft.com/)- a software development company.