The worldwide state of social networks


eMarketer has produced some really valuable research into the state of social networks and Facebook in particular, using the past few years to make predictions up to 2017. Facebook is currently in the enviable position of counting 42.6% of all internet users as ‘Facebook users’ in 2013, set to grow to 54.7% in 2017. Of all worldwide social media users, 2013 figures are set to record 63% as Facebook users, upping to 69.5% in 2017.

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Worldwide monthly active users (MAUs), defined as those with at least one login or interaction per moth, are set to grow to over 1 billion in 2013, led by particularly strong increases in the ‘Asia-Pacific’, ‘Middle East & Africa’ and ‘Latin American’ user bases. All of these have increased by roughly 30% this year, with the figures for India and Brazil looking particularly strong. Consdering the relative size of these markets, their percentage growths of 47% and 48.5% are huge positives for Facebook. Growth in ‘mature markets’, including the US, UK and across Western Europe, will be slower, with figures of 3,7%, 5.6% and 8.9% respectively.

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The study goes on to examine how these growth figures will leave Facebook in terms of user count. In 2017, 616 million Facebook users will come from the Asia-Pacific region, with over half of these in India alone. The ‘Middle East & Africa’ region will overtaken North America in 2013, ending the year with 167.9 million MAUs to North America’s 163.4 million. Indeed even Western Europe will overtake North America in 2016, with 177.0 million users to 176.8 million.

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So this leaves Facebook to consider its overall penetration of all internet users in the various worldwide markets. Despite Asia-Pacific’s incredibly high overall user count, even by 2017 it will still be the least penetrated with 39.0% of its internet population, suggesting Facebook can still look to target high growth in the region in years to come. By that point, The Middle East & Africa and Latin America will be far beyond North America and Europe.

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This has led people to wonder about whether Facebook is reaching saturation point in ‘mature’ markets, including Western Europe. Evidently, eMarketer have continued to predict growth in these areas, as highlighted above, claiming that the decreases predicted by others fail to take certain factors into account. For example, people spending less time on Facebook may well be spending more time on Instagram, a platform owned by the social network. Social networking on the whole is set to remain strong across Western Europe and, although growth is slowing, it still exists.

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62% of all internet users are now on social networks across Western Europe, or 41.9% of the total population of the region. The highest market penetration figures are in the Netherlands, where 69.6% of residents are social MAUs, followed by the four Scandinavian countries and then the UK, where the equivalent figure is 50.2%.

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The UK, due to its higher population, has held the largest number of social networking users on the whole, until this year, when it will be overtaken by Germany. Nevertheless, due to a greater platform split in the German market, the UK will remain number 1 in terms of Facebook users. This is set to remain the case all the way until 2017, when the UK will be expected to have 33.6 million Facebook MAUs, in comparison with 26.9 million in Germany.

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Evidently, the future for Facebook is pretty bright. With growth set to continue even in supposedly ‘saturated’ markets up until 2017, coupled with huge increases in emerging markets, it seems that the world’s largest most well-known social network is set to retain its strength.