GWI Social

Q3 2014

GlobalWebIndex’s quarterly report
on the latest trends in social networking

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INTRODUCTION
KEY TRENDS &
IMPLICATIONS
TOPLINE
TRENDS
FOCUS ON
FACEBOOK
DEVICE TRENDS AND
MESSAGING APPS
AGE
TRENDS
FUTURE
OUTLOOK

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Introduction
GWI Social is where GlobalWebIndex presents the very latest
figures for social networking behaviors and engagement levels
across more than 30 global markets.
Drawing on our Q3 2014 wave of research, we highlight a
range of demographic, region and market specific trends and
offer insights on:
• The most popular social networks and apps, including rates
of growth over the last six months
• Current attitudes towards Facebook
• The rise of mobiles, tablets and messaging services
• Networking behaviors by age, with a special focus on teens.
By analyzing such recent and robust data – which is
representative of nearly 90% of the global internet audience –
we are able to cut through the headlines and hype to provide a
unique understanding of what’s actually happening within the
social media landscape.
Clients can access further detail on any of the topics covered
in this report through our pre-cut data packs available to
download in the Insight Store, or by analyzing them against
bespoke, target audiences in our PRO Platform.
For further details on social trends at a national level, please
see our Market Reports – each of which contains a section
dedicated to networking platforms and behaviors.

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Notes on Methodology
Each year, GWI interviews more than 170,000 internet users across 32 markets – making it the largest on-going study into the
digital consumer instigated to date..
AMERICAS
US / Canada / Mexico / Brazil / Argentina
EMEA
UK / Ireland / France / Germany / Italy / Spain
/ Netherlands / Poland / Turkey / Russia /
Sweden / Saudi Arabia / UAE / South Africa
APAC
China / Hong Kong / Singapore / India / Indonesia
/ Japan / Taiwan / Vietnam / Thailand / Malaysia
/ South Korea / Australia / Philippines

Research is conducted in quarterly waves, each of which has a global sample size of more than 40,000 internet users. Typically,
we interview between 3,000 and 4,000 people every year in each market, with larger sample sizes in key countries such as the
UK and the US (30,000 each). Data is collected in the last six weeks of every quarter, ensuring it is as up-to-date as possible. In
this particular report, we draw primarily on our Q3 2014 wave of research among 41,823 adults.
Respondents complete an online questionnaire that uses stratified sampling techniques to ensure that they are representative
of the internet population aged 16 to 64 in each country (with correct proportions in terms of gender, age and educational
attainment).
This data is also used to calculate the universe estimates which we present throughout this report. Universe figures are designed
to provide highly informed approximations as to the number of users (in millions) that any percentage represents.

GWI’s Usage Definitions

China

We measure three forms of engagement with social platforms, defined as
follows:
• Account Ownership – those who say they have an account on a social
network
• Visitation – those who say they have visited the network in question in the
last month (via any device)
• Active Usage – those who have an account and say they have used or
contributed to the network in the last month (via any device)

In addition to using local platforms, it’s clear
that large numbers of internet users in China
are connecting to major global platforms
such as Facebook via VPNs, Proxy Servers
and other tools – something we address
in the charts dedicated to Chinese social
networking and which we explore further
in our Market Report on China’s internet
population.

These definitions are consistent across all of the platforms we track and thus
allow accurate comparisons between networks. In contrast, self-published
figures from social networks tend to use a wide and competing range of
factors, but would typically utilize ‘Visitation’ as a definition of ‘Active Usage’.
To see an example of this and explore GWI’s numbers in more detail, please

However, due to the sheer scale of the
Chinese market, its high number of local
social networks and the official restrictions
it places on platforms such as Facebook and
Twitter, China is excluded from most of the

download the Understanding Facebook’s User Numbers trend from the Insight
Store.

global charts presented in this report (see
the base of each one for confirmation).
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2

KEY TRENDS
AND IMPLICATIONS

Key Trends
and Numbers

• Facebook has some major challenges to face. Firstly,
people are growing tired of it, with 50% of members in the
UK and US saying that they’re using it less frequently than
they used to (rising to 64% among teens). Some of the top
reasons for this include that members are less interested
in Facebook than they used to be (45%, climbing to 54% for
teens), that they’re bored of it (37%, but up to 50% for teens)
and that it’s not as cool as it used to be (18%, rising to 27% for
teens). Facebook is also the only network which has seen a

• Tumblr and Pinterest are the fast growing social platforms
in 2014, with their active user numbers having increased by
120% and 111% respectively. Instagram is the third fastest
riser, up by 64% since Q1 2014. However, all social networks
saw an increase in active usage during Q2 and Q3 2014 as
the World Cup became a major talking (and sharing) point

drop in active usage among 16-24s during 2014; although
it’s a very small one (-0.5%), it needs to be viewed in the
context of all other networks posting substantial increases
among this demographic. Finally, it’s clear that people are
using Facebook more passively; since the start of 2013,
we’ve seen behaviors like sharing photos and messaging

within the online space.

friends fall by around 20 percentage points.

• Tumblr and Instagram have the youngest audiences,

• In the mobile space, Snapchat is the fastest growing

with more than 70% of their users being 16-34. In contrast,
Facebook has the oldest user base; a quarter of its active

app (up 56% since the start of 2014), although Facebook is
still by far the top social app overall (being used by 43% of

users are aged 45+.

internet users). Facebook also dominates in terms of chat/

• Despite its active user number having grown by just 2%

lead from WhatsApp (25%) following Facebook’s decision to

since the start of 2014, Facebook is still the number one
global network – and by an appreciable distance. Outside
of China, 4 in 5 internet users have a Facebook account –
a figure which peaks in LatAm at 93%. What’s more, 1 in 2
say they are actively using Facebook each month, giving it
about twice as many active users as the three sites which
compete for second position: Twitter, YouTube and Google+.
More than half of Facebook’s active users are also logging
in multiple times per day, a figure which is higher than the
equivalent for any other network. That said, YouTube has the
highest visitation rate – 85% of online adults are visiting it
each month (putting it nearly ten points ahead of Facebook,
on 76%).

messaging apps, with Messenger (27%) having re-taken the
strip the messaging functionality out of its main app. The
teen problem is present here once again for Facebook: teens
over-index more strongly for Snapchat than any other app,
with the highest usage rates among this audience coming in
key markets such as the UK, Canada, the USA and Australia
(where the figures range from 25-40% among online teens,
often putting Snapchat ahead of Facebook’s messaging
apps).
• Multi-networking is flourishing; China excluded, a
significant 91% of 16-64s visited YouTube or Facebook or
Twitter or Google+ last month. Moreover, some 19% visited
all four.
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• Mobiles and tablets are seeing big rises for social networking, whereas the audience engaging via PCs/laptops is contracting.
It’s now about 6 in 10 who use social networks via a PC/laptop, compared to more than 4 in 10 logging on via mobiles. Mobile
networking climbs further to pass the 50% mark among 16-34s, however. This behavior is also much more common in fastgrowth rather than mature internet nations.
• Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and Proxy Servers have become a major gateway to social networks, especially in those
fast-growth markets where certain platforms are subject to official bans. Overall, some 44% of VPN users say they have visited
Facebook in the last month, but this trend is most significant of all in China – where over 90 million online adults say they have
used a VPN in order access restricted social networks. This is one of the major reasons behind sites like Facebook and Twitter
having substantial audiences in China (with about a third in the country having accounts on the two services).
• Despite this, networking in China is still dominated by Qzone, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo, all of which can boast
membership rates of two thirds or more. In terms of apps, it is Qzone (60%) and WeChat (59%) which lead – with the latter
actually representing the world’s largest messaging app when its huge Chinese audience is included.

Key Implications
• The once-influential idea that the rise of one network

audiences are vast and can dwarf those seen in a number

automatically leads to the demise of another is simply not

of countries with some of the highest internet penetration

true – multi-networking is now a major trend, with internet

rates of all.

users maintaining profiles across a wide range of social
platforms. Any new name entering this space is more likely

• The huge numbers accessing social networks via VPNs

to become an additional network that people use, rather

carry serious problems for passive web analytics as many

than supplanting existing ones entirely. It’s in this context

will be incorrectly geo-allocated to the country in which the

that the hype surrounding Ello needs to be viewed.

server they are using is based. This means audiences in fastgrowth markets are being under-estimated in terms of size

• Mobiles are rising rapidly to become a first-choice

and are receiving lower levels of digital investment than they

device for social behaviors. Although they still have some

merit (for more on this, see our Missing Billion white paper).

distance to cover before they challenge PCs and laptops
for supremacy, the gap is closing with each quarter that

• Social behaviors are diversifying, with people turning to a

passes. PCs won’t be abandoned, though: it’s a multi-device

range of different platforms to carry out different activities.

approach which now characterizes global internet usage,

Smaller networks like Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr are

underlining the importance of cross-platform strategies and

thus rising into the mainstream, while bigger players like

campaigns.

Facebook are being used more passively. For most brands,
having a presence on just one social network is no longer

• Social networking is absolutely mainstream in fast-growth

sufficient. And while Facebook is still the clear number

and mature internet nations alike, confirming its truly

one, it’s no longer the catch-all site it once was; in certain

global reach. Nevertheless, it’s the relatively young, affluent

countries, and among certain demographics, other services

and urban audiences in emerging internet nations which are

now represent just as effective touchpoints in terms of

embracing networking the most enthusiastically – showing

reaching particular audiences (Snapchat and teens in many

why digital investment decisions should not be based solely

Westernized markets being a case in point). Similarly, social

on national internet penetration rates. Despite relatively low

conversations between users are shifting towards dedicated

online coverage in places like India and Indonesia, their social

chat apps, away from the biggest social networks.

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3

TOPLINE TRENDS
Tracking the most popular
platforms at a global level
• Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram are the fastest growing social platforms,
although all networks received a boost from increased engagement during the
World Cup.

Key Headlines

• While Facebook is still the dominant network in terms of members and active
users, YouTube is receiving more visitors each month.

• LatAm is the region where internet users are most engaged with social
networks, reflecting higher levels of enthusiasm for this activity in fast-growth
markets.

• Chinese networking is dominated by Sina Weibo, Qzone and Tencent Weibo, but
significant minorities are connecting to sites like Facebook and Twitter via VPNs.

Setting the Scene: Defining an Active User
Across all of the social platforms tracked by GlobalWebIndex, user engagement is monitored in two main ways:

• Account Membership. People who say they have an account on the platform in question
• Active Usage. People who say that, within the last month, they have actively contributed to or used the platform in question.
We measure both of these aspects in order to differentiate a social network’s total potential audience – e.g. its overall membership
base – from its current active audience (those who are actually engaging with it on a regular basis). This allows us to see how
many of a social network’s members can be legitimately counted as “active users” – by far the most important measure of
engagement in a digital landscape where social networking behaviors have proliferated.
Critically, GWI applies the same definitions across all of the platforms that we track. This enables us to assess their relative
popularity in a fair and like-for-like way, whereas the networks themselves tend to have rather more complex, competing and
sometimes slightly elusive definitions which do not permit accurate comparisons between platforms. In short, in their own selfpublished figures, an active user as defined by Facebook is unlikely to be the same as an active user as defined by Twitter or
Google+.
What’s more, some networks will categorize someone as an active user if they are logged in via their app, if they have clicked an
associated button on a third-party website or if they have simply visited the network’s main site without actually doing anything.
That means an individual can potentially be classified as active without really engaging with the site – especially where passive
web analytics are being deployed. In contrast, GWI’s data has the benefit of representing the user’s perspective; an individual is
counted as an active user only if they consider themselves to be one. We believe GWI’s figures thus represent the most accurate
and robust snapshot of active usage and offer one of the only ways to make true comparisons across networks.
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Facebook Continues to Dominate Social Networking
Whether we look at account membership or active usage, one trend remains absolutely consistent: Facebook is still the leading
name within social networking – and by an appreciable distance.
CHART 1: Top 20 Social Platforms - Account Ownership and Active Usage

Question: On which of the following services
do you have an account? // Active users:
Which of the following services have you
used or contributed to in the past month
using any type of device?
Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014
Base: Internet users aged 16-64, exc. China

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “Account” or “Active” in the free
search box, or click Social Media > Social Platforms > Account Ownership / Active User.
Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut “Account Ownership: Social Platforms” or
“Active Usage: Social Platforms” data packs

Outside of China, GWI tracks more than 35 named platforms – some global, some localized to particular regions or markets.
Despite this wealth of services, Facebook is ahead of all of them. As 2014 nears its end, the social networking giant is able to
boast a 20-point lead over its next closest rival in terms of both membership and active usage rates.
In the last few months, it’s been common to see reports which attack Facebook and which claim that it’s losing its relevance and
popularity. Although there’s no easier way to grab attention and headlines, this simply isn’t true. The fact remains that no other
social network can currently offer a comparable reach, no other social network has such consistent popularity across countries
and no other social network is integrated so comprehensively within the infrastructure of the internet (e.g. via “like” buttons).
Certainly, the ways in which people are interacting with Facebook continue to evolve – a theme we explore further in the
following chapter – but it’s critical to recognize that, outside of China, more than four fifths (83%) of online adults are members
of Facebook, while close to half (47%) consider themselves to be actively using the network. For a service which is now more
than ten years old, this is an extremely impressive achievement.
Behind Facebook, there are three platforms which compete for second position: YouTube, Twitter and Google+. If we look at
membership, YouTube and Google+ are both approaching the two-thirds mark (63% and 62% respectively), with Twitter following
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closely behind (55%). Rates are much more equal in relation to active usage, though, with each of the three being used by around
a quarter of internet users.
Other social networks then capture relatively small shares for active usage, with Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest around the
15% mark and Tumblr, Badoo and Myspace scoring just under 10%. But although they represent much smaller presences than
a giant like Facebook, these figures are very much in line with the trend towards networking becoming more diversified – with
people turning to different networks to carry out different behaviors and, in cases, engage with different audiences (for more on
this, see our Multi-Networking trend).
Outside of their home market, Chinese micro-blogging sites Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo have attracted small but significant
active user bases of 7% and 6% respectively. And while localized platforms VK and Odnoklassniki might be minor presences
globally, they are major forces inside Russia – something we assess in more detail below.

Networking by Region – YouTube Leads for Visitor Numbers
CHART 2: The Top Social Platforms by Region

Question: Membership: On which of the following services do you have an account? // Visitation: Which of the following websites/services have you visited
or used in the last month via any device? // Active usage: Which of the following services have you used or contributed to in the past month using any type of
device? /// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014 /// Base: Internet users aged 16-64, exc. China
Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “Account” or “Active” in the free
search box, or click Social Media > Social Platforms > Account Ownership / Active User.
Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut “Account Ownership: Social Platforms” or
“Active Usage: Social Platforms” data packs

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In addition to the key metrics of account membership and

Globally, 85% of online adults outside of China are regular

active usage, GWI also monitors the numbers of internet

visitors to YouTube, putting it just ahead of Facebook

users who say that, within the last month, they have visited

(76%) and giving it a considerable lead over Twitter (40%)

the largest social networks via any device. If we analyze

and Google+ (30%). And this is a pattern/ranking which is

these three measures across the four biggest global

consistent across all five world regions – something which

platforms, some important nuances emerge – especially

underlines the importance of aligning campaigns with the

as YouTube is a platform that many people might be

most appropriate form of visitor engagement.

visiting without considering themselves to be a member
or active user.
Taking membership first, Facebook is in pole position
across all five world regions – further confirmation of its
global dominance in terms of social networking. More than
three quarters of internet users in every part of the world
have a Facebook account, with the figures peaking in Latin
America at an extremely impressive 94%.

That over 80% of internet users in all parts of the world
are visiting YouTube each month reflects just how central
it has become to online behaviors, as well as the vital role
of the internet as a content-consumption channel. Indeed,
the sheer levels of engagement with social platforms are
striking: China excluded, a mighty 91% of global internet
users visited YouTube or Facebook or Twitter or Google+
last month. That’s just 9% not engaging with at least one
of the big four, then. What’s more, some 19% of internet

Both LatAm and MENA are in fact ahead of Facebook’s

users visited all four – showing once more the strength

home territory of North America, something which

of the trend towards multi-networking across multiple

reflects the younger age profiles of internet populations

platforms.

in fast-growth markets, as well as the wild popularity of
social networking activities among users in these nations.
Indeed, all of the other major networks also score their
best membership rates in these same two regions.
The success of Google+ in fast-growth markets is clear
to see from these figures; in regions like LatAm and
MENA, its membership rate is only around 10 percentage
points behind that of Facebook (in contrast, it is 30 points
behind in North America). For a social platform so much
younger than Facebook to have achieved this level is a real
achievement; in fact, its lower engagement rates in key
markets within Europe and North America means that its
overall reach continues to be under-appreciated in some
studies.
Overall, Europeans remain the least enthusiastic about
social networking, posting the lowest membership rates
across 3 of the 4 platforms. This is being driven by the
northern part of the continent in particular, where figures
typically fall the furthest behind the global average –
something we explore below.
If we switch our attention to visitation rates – that is, the
percentage of internet users who say they have visited the

Across the final of the three metrics considered in Chart
2 – Active Usage – Facebook returns to pole position,
with more than half in LatAm, MENA and North America
saying that they actively used it in the last month. No other
network comes close to matching this in any of the five
regions, confirming one of the areas where Facebook really
is dominant – from the user’s perspective, it is Facebook
where active engagement levels are by far the highest.
Facebook’s score here is in fact around twice that of the
other three networks.
These figures also underline one of the challenges
that Google+ still needs to overcome; although its
membership figures are high – a partial result of many of
Google’s services having for a long time required people to
sign-up to the network – it has yet to convert a significant
portion of these users to visitors or active users. Unlike
some of the other networks, it lacks a base of people
who are visiting but not actively using it; the size of this
audience for Google+ (7%) is half that of Twitter’s (15%) and
leagues behind that of YouTube (59%) or Facebook (29%).
Even so, that nearly a third in a region like MENA consider
themselves to be active on Google+ is still significant given
the relatively young age of the network.

social platforms in question during the last month – a rare
phenomenon occurs: Facebook falls from the number one
spot, to be overtaken by YouTube.

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Visitor Rates by Country –
YouTube and Facebook Dominate
Across 29 of GWI’s 32 markets, YouTube is the most visited of the big four social platforms;
it typically scores impressive visitation rates of 80%+, but rises to hit 90% or more in eleven
countries.
The only exceptions to this pattern are in Indonesia and Turkey – where YouTube ties with
Facebook for first position – and in Japan, where Facebook has not made the same type
of impact as elsewhere and trails considerably behind YouTube (Twitter is slightly ahead of
Facebook in this market too, the only place where this happens).
Facebook scores above 90% in seven countries, all of which are fast-growth markets. Similar
geographical patterns are in evidence for Twitter and Google+ too. As we saw above with the
regional figures, internet users in these countries are typically the most engaged with, and
enthusiastic about, social networking. Indeed, in places such as Indonesia and Malaysia, more
people say they are visiting social networks than search engines each month – a testament
to their huge popularity and to how widespread social behaviors have become among all
segments of their online populations (but among young, affluent and urban segments in
particular, which account for the largest numbers of internet users in these market types).
Along with Japan, Facebook dips to 50% or below only in Russia – where local platforms VK
and Odnoklassniki present strong challenges and can boast greater percentages of active
users – as well as in China, where Facebook and other global names are subject to official
bans and where numerous domestic platforms capture the biggest shares (we explore this
in more detail below).
Despite countries like the US and the UK being some of the most closely observed in terms
of digital trends, these countries normally come towards the lower end of the country
rankings across all of the major social platforms. Two demographic trends help to account
for this: firstly, their populations have an older overall profile, meaning there are more people
in the upper age groups; secondly, their internet penetration rates are typically very high,
meaning their online populations are much more representative of the overall national
population (put simply, it’s not just that these countries have more older people generally, it’s
that more of these older individuals are online). And, as older age segments tend to be less
engaged with social networking behaviors (as with digital trends more generally), it’s hardly
surprising that their engagement rates across sites such as Facebook are slightly lower.
The least enthusiastic nations of all are typically clustered in northern Europe, comprising
places such as France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Poland. It’s similarly telling
that Japan and Australia feature towards the bottom of most lists: within APAC, these are
the two countries with the highest internet penetration rates and the oldest populations.
In Japan, there’s an extra factor at play, though: the types of behaviors which are integral to
social networking are less closely aligned to prevailing social norms in this country than in
many other markets.

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CHART 3: Visitors to the Top Social

Platforms by Country

Question: Which of the following websites/services have you
visited or used in the last month via any device? /// Source:
GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014 /// Base: Internet users aged 1664 in each country

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter
“Web Brand” in the free search box, or click Cross-Device
> Web Brand Visitation - Device Split > Web Brand
Visited in the Past Month on PC, Mobile or Tablet.
Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut “Website
Visitation” data packs

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Facebookers Log In the Most Frequently
Facebook doesn’t just have the highest percentage of active users, it can also claim the most frequent engagement rates: more
than half (54%) of Facebook’s users are logging in more than once a day – a figure which puts it 20 percentage points ahead
of second-placed Twitter. And, significantly, if we re-base this to be among the total online population, it is some 25% of internet
users aged 16-64 who are logging on to Facebook multiple times each day.

CHART 4: Frequency of Visits on the Top Global Social Platforms

Question: Thinking about the social platforms that you use or
contribute to each month, can you please tell us how often you
typically use each one? /// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014
/// Base: Active users of each network aged 16-64, exc. China

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Click Social Media > Social Platform
Usage Frequency. Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut “Social Platform Usage
Frequency” data packs

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That more than half of Facebook’s active audience is connecting so

Unsurprisingly, all this means that Facebook also

frequently is a testament to how ingrained it has become within

possesses the highest proportion of active users

daily lives, but also of the ongoing migration of social networking

among its membership base (the final section of

behaviors from PC/laptop to mobile platforms; the nature of

Chart 4). That is, 56% of Facebook’s members are

smartphone internet usage means that many users are checking in

actively using it – a figure which is higher than for

multiple times a day, albeit for relatively short periods. There’s also a

any of the other networks, and which is particularly

strong age effect at work here: the younger a Facebook user is, the

impressive

more likely they are to be using the service more than once a day.

membership base. Indeed, the differences with some

By region, it is users in LatAm who are ahead for this behavior; by

other networks are clear: on Google+, for example, a

country, users in Malaysia, the Philippines and Mexico are the most

lower 37% of members are actively using it.

given

Facebook’s

larger

overall

engaged.

Tumblr and Pinterest are the Fastest Growing Social Platforms
In contrast to Facebook’s dominance on most measures, a different pattern emerges when we look at growth rates over the last
six month. By comparing changes in the number of active users from Q1 to Q3 2014, it is Tumblr (+120%), Pinterest (+111%) and
Instagram (+64%) which are the fastest growing platforms.

CHART 5: Top Social Platforms: Growth in Members and Active Users during Last Six Months

Question: Members: On which of the following services do you have an account?
// Active users: Which of the following services have you used or contributed to
in the past month using any type of device? /// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q1
2014 - Q3 2014 /// Base: Internet users aged 16-64, exc. China

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “Account” or “Active” in the free search box, or click Social Media > Social Platforms > Account
Ownership / Active User. Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut “Account Ownership: Social Platforms” or “Active Usage: Social Platforms” data packs

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Of course, the Big 4 social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+)
have by far the largest existing membership and active user bases, and hence
it’s easier for the smaller networks to post stronger growth rates. Nevertheless,
these figures are very much in line with the trend towards Multi-Networking
and are consistent with the quarter-on-quarter growth rates that we’ve been
seeing on smaller and more specialized networks over the last year. The old
idea that the rise of one network automatically leads to the demise of another is
simply not true – digital consumers are happy to maintain profiles across a wide
range of social services and to engage with them for different purposes. It’s also
telling that, across the motivations which GWI tracks in terms of why people use
social networks, Facebookers over-index the most for visiting the site because “a
lot of my friends are on it”.
Arguably, the most significant trends in Chart 5 are that the numbers not
engaging with any social network have fallen. Between Q1 and Q3 2014, there
was a 14% decrease in the share who said they didn’t have accounts on any of
the 35+ networks tracked by GWI, together with a 26% fall in those who said they
hadn’t actively used any social platform. In short, it’s not just that networks have
managed to attract more new members during 2014, it’s that many existing
members have been using them more frequently. This is a clear break from
trends in 2013 and the first half of 2014, where we were seeing consistent and
notable increases in the numbers not engaging with social networks (and with
Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter specifically).
The biggest driver of this change in momentum was the World Cup, which took
place during late Q2 and Q3 and which caused a serious boost to the numbers
interacting with social networks. As we discuss in our World Cup Social Trends
report, social networks were a primary source of tournament-related news and
a major go-to point for discussing and sharing views about games. Given the
competition’s truly global reach – and that majorities of our respondents said
that they were following games – it’s not a surprise to see upticks in our Q3
results. Whether this can be sustained in the next quarter will be a key metric
to watch, especially with messaging apps continuing to capture so much of the
direct communication that used to take place on social networks proper (we
explore this further in the Device Trends chapter).
Even allowing for the World Cup effect, though, we shouldn’t ignore the fact
that the smaller networks like Pinterest and Instagram are enjoying booming
engagement rates and are beginning to emerge as more serious competitors
to the Big 4 platforms. Although they still have some way to go before they can
challenge the supremacy of the more established networks, their country-bycountry figures shows that – in some places – it’s no longer fair to classify them
as niche destinations.

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CHART 6: Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr

Question: Account: On which of the following services do you have an account? // Active users: Which of the following services have you used or
contributed to in the past month using any type of device? /// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014 /// Base: Internet users aged 16-64, exc. China
Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “Account” or “Active” in the free search box, or click Social Media > Social Platforms > Account Ownership / Active
User. Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut “Account Ownership: Social Platforms” or “Active Usage: Social Platforms” data packs

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Instagram is now being used by more than a quarter of internet users in five of GWI’s
countries and, overall, Zuckerberg and co. can boast ownership of the first and fifth biggest
social networks outside of China. Instagram’s highest engagement rates are in Thailand
(32%), Saudi Arabia and Turkey (28% each) but the US remains the dominant market if we
convert national percentages into audience figures (with close to 30 million active Instagram
users). The site’s figures are relatively even by age and gender but there’s a predictable
spike among younger age groups. As we might expect, active users of Facebook also overindex strongly here; they are 1.7x more likely than average to be engaging with Instagram,
underlining the power of one company owning both sites.
Pinterest also scores its highest usage figures in Thailand (24%), with more than a fifth of
internet users engaging in Indonesia, India, South Africa, the USA and Saudi Arabia. In terms
of audience sizes, the USA is once again dominant, though. Unlike Instagram and Tumblr, the
gender split for Pinterest is skewed towards women, while age-based patterns are as one
would expect: 16-24s are more than twice as likely as the older age groups to be engaging.
For Tumblr, the gender and income splits are pretty even but the youngest age groups are
in the lead once more. In terms of countries, there’s a fairly neat divide – with fast-growth
nations in the top half and more mature markets in the lower half. So, the 18% who are
engaging in the leading countries of Saudi Arabia and India compare to just 9% in the US and
6% in the UK. This is in line with the general popularity of blogging and blog-related platforms
in emerging internet markets: consumers in these countries are much more vocal when it
comes to sharing their own views online as well as engaging with blogs written by other
people. As a result, Indian internet users represent a much larger segment of Tumblr’s user
base than their American counterparts. China is also a major player – something we explore
in the next section.

Chinese Networking: Qzone, Sina Weibo
and Tencent Weibo Still Dominate
In Q3 2014, just 7% of Chinese internet users said they didn’t have an account on any
social network. And just 14% reported that they hadn’t actively used any social platform
within the last month. Given the vast size of the country’s adult internet population (rapidly
approaching the 500 million mark), the number of social networkers that these figures
represent are colossal. What’s more, given that China accounts for about a third of all internet
users across the 32 markets surveyed by GWI, it’s easy to see how global averages can be
dragged down if a trend is not pronounced in this particular market. It’s for this reason that
the charts above excluded China.
Currently, three platforms dominate the Chinese networking landscape, with more than two
thirds having accounts on Sina Weibo, Qzone and Tencent Weibo. In terms of active usage,
Sina and Qzone are both above the 50% mark, while Tencent follows closely behind at 44%.

17

CHART 7: Top 15 Social Platforms in China - Account Ownership and Active Usage

Question: Account: On which of the following
services do you have an account? // Active users:
Which of the following services have you used or
contributed to in the past month using any type
of device? /// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014
/// Base: Internet users in China aged 16-64

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “Account” or “Active” in the free
search box, or click Social Media > Social Platforms > Account Ownership / Active User.
Alternatively, you can download our China Market Report as well as our pre-cut “Account
Ownership: Social Platforms” or “Active Usage: Social Platforms” data packs

Traditionally, many Chinese networks have been seen as close equivalents to some of the global platforms tracked in our
earlier charts; micro-blogging sites Sina and Weibo are viewed as the Chinese versions of Twitter, Qzone’s similarities to
Facebook have been much discussed while Youku has been held as comparable to YouTube. Given that many of the world’s
major networks are subject to official bans in China, it’s therefore been assumed that the country’s internet users are turning
to these local equivalents because they can’t access the international ones. However, our data shows that this simply isn’t
the case: significant minorities of Chinese internet users have accounts on Google+ (39%), Facebook (36%), Twitter (29%),
YouTube (26%), as well as many of the more specialized platforms. Smaller but still important groups are actively using them
each month, too: rates on Google+ and Facebook are actually higher than those for domestic platforms Kaixin and 51.com, for
example.
Of course, the figures for the Big 4 global platforms in China are significantly below the equivalents recorded in almost all other
nations – hence why they have been excluded from earlier charts to stop trends in one country distorting the global picture.
Nevertheless, when we convert the percentages in China into audience figures, it’s clear that all of the major platforms have
substantial Chinese user bases (typically, in fact, China represents one of their top markets in terms of audience size).
In some traditional studies, it’s still common to see Chinese usage of Facebook, Twitter and similar sites recorded as zero. This
is a major mistake. There are in fact a number of ways that Chinese internet users are bypassing official restrictions on social
networks; these include logging in while abroad or via apps, but by far the biggest technique is using a Virtual Private Network
(VPN) or Proxy Server.
18

VPNs: A Major Gateway to Social Networks
For anyone unfamiliar with VPNs, they allow people to bypass traditional connections and tracking methods to use the internet
via a remotely located server; essentially, it’s as if people are entering the internet discretely via a side door rather than through
the main entrance. That means VPNs can provide access to any social network which is subject to geo-restrictions (whether in
place to protect content or because usage has been prohibited by authorities).
At present, VPNs are still viewed as pretty niche tools used mainly by savviest or geekiest of internet users. Worldwide, though,
it’s over a quarter of online adults who say they’ve used one to connect to the web. Hardly that niche, then – especially when
we recognize that this percentage translates to more than 400 million VPN users.
Significantly, VPN usage is much higher in fast-growth rather than mature markets. What’s more, using them to access social
networks is a major motivation, with a notable peak in APAC; as our chart shows, it’s Indonesia and Vietnam which lead the way
(22% each), followed by China (20%).

CHART 8: Using VPNs to Access Social Networks

19

CHART 8: Using VPNs to Access Social Networks

Question: Can you please tell us why you use VPNs or proxy servers
when browsing the internet? To access restricted social networks
/// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q4 2013 - Q3 2014 /// Base: Internet
Users aged 16-64

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “VPN” in the free search box, or
click Internet Landscape > VPN/Proxy Usage. Alternatively, you can download our precut “VPN and Proxy Server Usage” and “VPN and Proxy Servers: Usage Motivations” data
packs

Look at the corresponding audience sizes, and the importance of these
tools in China is plain to see: over 90 million online adults in China
have used one to access restricted social platforms. Compare that
to places like the UK and USA, where the equivalent figure is just 3%,
and the disparity is pretty striking (with most of the 1 million UK and
5 million US users looking to access networks which are restricted in
their place of work).
Globally, this behavior is most common among men and 16-34s but –
interestingly – it’s equal across the income quartiles.
Not only does this trend underline the potential limitations of using
passively collected, geo-located data – which can over-estimate the
size of social audiences in markets such as the USA, where VPN and
Proxy servers tend to be located – it also emphasizes the growing
futility of attempting to prevent national audiences from accessing
certain sites. Just look at how easily internet users in Turkey were able
to overcome the government’s restrictions on Twitter earlier this year,
for example.
But this data also shows why networking behaviors in China – as well
as in many other fast-growth markets – are much more diversified
and sophisticated than often assumed. In fact, if we look at the social
networks being actively used by those who have deployed VPNs, the
numbers are pretty compelling.

20

CHART 9: Social Network Usage Among VPN Users

% VPN users active on the following services

Question: Which of the following services have you used or contributed to in the past month using
any type of device? /// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014 /// Base: VPN Users aged 16-64

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “VPN” in the free search box, or click Internet Landscape > VPN/
Proxy Usage. Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut “VPN and Proxy Server Usage” and “VPN and Proxy Servers:
Usage Motivations” data packs

Given its number one position overall, it’s perhaps not surprising to see that VPN users are most likely to be active on Facebook
(44%). But other major platforms are well represented too, including Google+ (33%), Twitter (31%) and YouTube (30%). Potentially,
that means that significant portions of the audiences for these sites are being incorrectly geo-allocated by passive analytics –
underlining the importance of actively reported data gathered direct from internet users themselves. It also gives clear context
to the buzz generated by Facebook’s Atlas platform, as well as other tracking techniques which rely on self-reported information
from users who remain logged in across devices.

For further analysis of the topics covered in this section, please download the following from the Insight Store:
• The Missing Billion (GWI’s white paper on audience measurement)

• Google+ Users (GWI Infographic)

• Understanding Facebook’s User Numbers (GWI Trend)

• YouTube Users in the UK (GWI Infographic)

• Multi-Networking (GWI Trend)

• Account Ownership: Social Platforms (GWI Data Pack)

• Profiling Pinterest Users (GWI Infographic)

• Active Usage: Social Platforms (GWI Data Pack)

• Facebook Visitors in MENA (GWI Infographic)

• Website Visitation: PC, Mobile, Tablet (GWI Data Pack)

• Instagram Users (GWI Infographic)

• VPN and Proxy Server Usage (GWI Data Pack)

• Social Networking in China (GWI Infographic)

• VPNs and Proxy Servers: Usage Motivations (GWI Data Pack)

21

4

FOCUS ON FACEBOOK
Current trends on the
leading social network
• Although Facebook’s membership and visitation rates are still climbing, active
usage is falling – with 50% of members in the UK and US saying they are using it
less than they used to, and more than a third claiming to be bored of Facebook.
All of these figures rise higher among teens.

Key Headlines

• Visitor numbers via PCs/laptops have contracted in recent quarters, whereas
those accessing via mobiles and tablets have risen strongly.

• Usage of Facebook’s two apps is growing strongly, especially for Messenger
(up by nearly 250% since early 2013).

Facebook Usage Becoming
More Passive
When Facebook’s performance is tracked over time, two trends emerge very clearly:
membership and visitation rates have been holding steady or increasing, while active
usage levels have been experiencing a moderate decline.
There was relatively little change in the percentage of internet users who had a Facebook
account between early 2013 and late 2014 (with the figure hovering just above the 80%
mark outside of China). However, as the size of the global internet population increases
with each quarter that passes, this means that the total membership base has risen by
more than 200 million during this period.
It’s a similar story with visitation rates – the headline figures have remained at about
75%, meaning the total number of internet users visiting Facebook each month has grown
by around 90 million. Overall, then, Facebook’s audience size and reach remain in the
ascendancy.
But the picture for active usage is rather different. Here, the figures have fallen from more
than two thirds in early 2014 to just under 50% in late 2014. Although the World Cup
caused a small uptick in the final quarter on Chart 10, the prevailing downwards trend here
is pretty clear to see. That means the numbers who consider themselves to be actively
using Facebook have fallen by around 100 million.

22

CHART 10: Facebook: Key Figures and Behaviors

Source: GlobalWebIndex Q1 2013 - Q3 2014 /// Base: Overall: Internet Users aged 16-64 // Behaviors: Active Facebook Users aged 16-64

DEFINITIONS
· Account Owners – 16-64 year-olds who claim to have an account on Facebook
· Visitors – 16-64 year-olds who claim to have visited the site in the last month (via any device)
·  Active Users – 16-64 year-olds who have an account and say they have used or contributed to the site in the last
month (via any device)

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Click Social Media > Social Platforms > Account Ownership / Active User or Cross Device > Web Brand Visitation.
Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut Facebook data packs as well as our “Understanding Facebook’s User Numbers” trend

23

Across GWI’s 32 countries, Facebook still has more than 600
million active users aged 16-64 – far more than any other

Understanding GWI’s user numbers for Facebook

social network. And, as we’ve seen, its overall audience size

GWI and Facebook have varying estimates surrounding the

is still rising. Facebook is certainly not dying a slow death,

extent of active usage, with GWI’s “visitors” figure being the

then, despite what some reports like to proclaim. That said,

closest proxy for Facebook’s “active user” measure.

it is clear that behaviors on the platform are changing and
evolving. The biggest driver of this has been the rise of
passive networking: people are still engaging with Facebook
– hence why membership and visitation rates are still
growing – but they’ve been using it in different ways. In
short, they’re still on Facebook but they’re carrying out fewer
actions while there.
If we look at some key behaviors on Facebook – all of which
were pretty fundamental to Facebook in its earlier days –
we get some stark confirmation of this trend. Over the last
six quarters, the numbers messaging friends on a 1-to-1
basis have dropped by 20 percentage points. Meanwhile,
there’s been a 17-point drop in updating one’s profile status,
a 10-point drop in uploading videos and – perhaps most
starkly of all – a 24-point decrease in photo uploading. The
same pattern is present for all of the behaviors we track on
Facebook – the numbers doing them on a monthly basis
have been undergoing sharp declines.
It’s a complex combination of factors which are causing
this move towards more passive forms of Facebooking. For
certain behaviors, there are some very specific contributors.
For example, it’s not hard to see how the rapid rise of
Instagram would cause fewer people to upload photos
on Facebook, especially as the two sites have such a big
crossover in terms of their membership bases. Similarly, the
explosion of mobile messaging apps means that many of

GWI’s visitor number is typically about two thirds the
equivalent of Facebook’s corresponding active user number
(in September 2014, Facebook claimed to have 1.35 billion
monthly active users, whereas GWI’s data showed it to have
901 million). This is a direct result of the different definitions
that each applies, with GWI data representing 89% of the
global internet audience and not including the following:
• Duplicate accounts (estimated by Facebook to represent
between 4.3% and 7.9% of their worldwide monthly active
users in 2013)
• False accounts (whether “user-misclassified accounts” or
“undesirable accounts”, estimated by Facebook to represent
between 0.8%-2.1% and 0.4%-1.2% of worldwide monthly
active users respectively).
• Auto log-ins (people who are automatically logged in to
the service without actually using it, a common issue with
mobile applications in particular; these users are counted as
active by Facebook)
• Third-Party Likers (people who are signed in via a thirdparty website and click a “like” button but who are not
actively using the main site itself; these users are counted
as active by Facebook)
• Incorrectly geo-located users (Facebook notes that “data
regarding the geographic location of our users is estimated
based on a number of factors, such as the user’s IP address
and self-disclosed location. These factors may not always
accurately reflect the user’s actual location.”)

the conversations that used to take place inside Facebook

• Users under 16 or 65+

have now migrated elsewhere (a trend which has been

• Individuals who access the internet via a mobile only (this

accelerated by Facebook’s decision to remove the messaging

group will be added to GWI’s core survey shortly)

functionality from its main app).

Both datasets have their own merits but we believe that

At a more general level, though, the rise of mobile networking

one of the biggest strengths of GWI’s figures is that they

is playing its part here too. Broadly speaking, mobile visits to

measure usage in terms of numbers of people rather than

social networks tend to be more frequent but shorter and

users. They also show the numbers who perceive themselves

less interactive than those made via other devices. Although
there’s no set rule, it is fair to say that – generally – people
are more likely to browse their newsfeed and perhaps click
the like button than undertake more in-depth activities. And
this encourages much more passive forms of engagement
where people are more likely to simply look at things rather

to be using Facebook, as opposed to passively collected
data which can incorrectly classify people into this group.
To explore this subject in more detail, please download
the Understanding Facebook’s User Numbers trend from the
Insight Store.

than interact with them. As a result, many will not consider
themselves to be actively engaging with the site, even if they
are still visiting it.
24

50% of Facebook Members Say They Are Using It Less
For a site which is more than ten years old, there’s a boredom factor at work too. It’s natural that some people will grow less
interested in a site over time – especially when so many others are now available to use. But we also have to recognize that the
social networking landscape now looks very different to when Facebook first launched. Back in 2004, Myspace represented
the only significant competition for Facebook, and younger age groups were very quick to adopt the “cool” new network-onthe-block. Facebook was fresh and new. For today’s teens, this simply isn’t the case – Facebook is not just old, it’s the network
that their older siblings grew up with and which – in many cases – their parents are now using too. These factors feature very
prominently when we ask current members about their attitudes towards Facebook.

CHART 11: Facebook Usage Levels in the US and UK

Question: Are you using Facebook less than you used to? For what reason(s)
are you using Facebook less than you used to?
/// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014
/// Base: 12,399 Facebook Members in the US and UK aged 16-64

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Click Social Media > Facebook Access
> Facebook Usage Levels and Social Media > Facebook Access > Motivations to Use
Facebook Less

25

When GWI surveyed nearly 12,500 Facebook members in the UK and USA, some 50% said that they were using the site less
than they used to. Men (55%) were slightly ahead of women (46%), while the younger groups posted higher figures than the older
ones, but the cross-demographic nature of the agreement was the most striking trend.
The top reason given by Facebook members for using the site less frequently was that they were simply less interested in it than
they used to be (45%). But more than a third (37%) claimed to be bored of Facebook and close to a fifth (18%) think that the site
is no longer as cool as it once was.
Privacy concerns loom large too, with nearly 3 in 10 saying that they don’t believe Facebook is secure or private enough –
something which might help to explain why Facebook recently released a Tor hidden version of its site. Elsewhere, the more
competitive nature of the social networking landscape also has relevance: the numbers saying that they’ve started using other
types of sites such micro-blogs, messaging apps or photo-sharing services approach the 10% mark in each case.

50% of Teens are Bored of Facebook
As we’ve noted, many of the attitudes seen above are to be expected on a site that is more than a decade
old. But a much bigger problem emerges for Facebook if we look at response rates among teens (defined
here as 16-19s) – the most coveted but fickle demographic for any social networking site, and the one into
which Snapchat has been able to make serious inroads.
At a headline level, it’s nearly two thirds of teens who say they are using Facebook less than they used to.
Just as significantly – and even more worryingly for Facebook – teens under-index on saying that they’re
spending less time on social networks generally but then over-index on almost all of the specific antiFacebook options. Put simply, teens are less likely than others to be moving away from social networks
as a genre but more likely than other audiences to be moving away from Facebook. Interestingly, teens are
behind others for thinking that Facebook lacks sufficient security or privacy credentials – one of the biggest
initial selling points for Snapchat. But they then over-index the most strongly for using alternative types
of social networks and for being bored of Facebook. Ten years ago, Facebook was the site that any teen
wanted to be on; now, Facebook has become the opposite – it’s lost a serious part of its appeal among
this key demographic.
All that acknowledged, some caveats are essential here. Along with other users, teens haven’t left
Facebook – they’re still visiting it and using it, they’re just less positive about it than they used to be. Even
more crucially, Facebook doesn’t need its users to love it; its ad-based revenues are underpinned by the
proposition of reaching specific audiences. So, as long as membership and visitation rates remain strong
or on the rise – as they are – profits will follow. Indeed, this is one of the major strengths of Atlas, its new
advertising platform. Not only can Atlas use the information it knows about you from Facebook to target you
while you’re on other websites or in third-party apps, it overcomes the problems of being reliant on cookies.
It thus represents a significant leap-forward in terms of mobile tracking in particular, an area where 3rd party
cookies have been made redundant through restrictions at the operating-system level, such as those on iOS
devices among others.
In short, the success of Atlas depends on people being logged in rather than actively engaging with the
site; if we bear in mind that more than 4 in 5 adult internet users outside of China currently have a Facebook
account – and hence have handed over basic demographic information about themselves as well as a
degree of behavioral data derived from their usage habits – the potential reach and accuracy of Atlas is
pretty impressive. No wonder it’s been seen by many as a direct challenge to Google’s DoubleClick platform
as well as one of the best solutions yet to the challenge of understanding today’s multi-device internet
users – able to marry up visits made in different browsers/apps and across different devices.
Atlas will also benefit from the types of actions that people are most likely to undertake on Facebook; as
Chart 12 demonstrates, by far the most popular form of interaction in Q3 2014 was clicking the “like” button.
26

CHART 12: Top Behaviors on Facebook

Question: Thinking about when you use Facebook, can you please tell us if
you have done any of the following within the last month?
/// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014
/// Base: Facebook Members aged 16-64

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Click Social Media > Social Platform Past
Month Activities > Facebook Actions. In the same section, PRO Platform users can also
explore lists of behaviors specific to Twitter and Google+

Globally, close to 85% of Facebook members say that they have
used the “like” button within the last month. And although teens
are behind average on this measure, the figure still hits the threequarters mark even within the demographic – giving Atlas just the
type of information it needs to deliver more effective advertising.
What’s more, close to half say they have visited a brand’s page,
4 in 10 report having followed a new company or brand, 3 in 10
have shared branded photos or videos and a quarter have posted
something positive about a company. All this is very positive news
for Facebook – even though the teen problem is in evidence once
more (the only place where teens over-index compared to other
users in for “unliking” a brand).

27

Facebook App Usage Climbs by 200%
Despite Facebook usage becoming more passive in character, one of the other highly positive stories for Facebook is its booming
engagement rates via mobile devices.
CHART 13: Facebook Visitors by Platform

millions

Question: Internet users who have: visited Facebook in the last month via PC/Laptop, Mobile or Tablet; who have used its official app; and who have used
Facebook Messenger /// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q1 2013 - Q3 2014 /// Base: Internet Users aged 16-64
Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Click Social Media > Social Platforms > Account Ownership / Active User or Cross Device > Web Brand Visitation.
Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut Facebook data packs as well as our “Understanding Facebook’s User Numbers” trend

Over the last two years, the numbers visiting via PCs or laptops have grown by just 2% (although if we were to shorten the time
period in question, we’d actually see a decline here across the most recent quarters).
In contrast, visitation rates via all other devices and platforms are rising rapidly. Mobile and tablet visitors have increased by 44%
and 77% respectively, but the most momentum can be seen for its two apps. On its main smartphone app, numbers have shot
up by 198% since Q1 2013 – an obvious reflection of how strongly social networking behaviors are migrating to mobile (as well as
showing that the large majority of smartphone visitors are accessing the site via the official app rather than the mobile website).

28

Even more significant is the increase for Facebook

Even more crucially, GlobalWebIndex’s research reveals

Messenger – up by nearly 250%. In part, of course, this has

close to half of Messenger’s users bought something via

been driven by Facebook’s decision to strip the messaging

their mobile in Q3 2014 (ahead of the equivalent figure

functionality out of its main app and encourage (or force)

among the general online population, with a 1.33 over-

people to use Messenger instead. Although patterns are

index). Although not explicitly designed for purchasing

far from uniform on a country-by-country basis, the global

products at the moment, it’s not hard to imagine how

rise is pretty clear to see: outside of China, the number

Messenger’s new role could be expanded further to

of internet users engaging with Messenger stood at just

facilitate this, giving Facebook a significant footprint in

8% back at the end of 2012, whereas it had hit 27% by

a space set to enjoy massive growth in the months and

Q3 2014. In certain countries, the spike caused by the

years ahead. Following its largely unsuccessful “gifts”

migration to Messenger is in fact obvious: in the UK, usage

service, quietly withdrawn earlier this year, we know that

shot up from 15% in Q1 2014 to 26% in Q3 2014.

Facebook has been testing a “Buy” button in the US and
will be keen not to lose ground to its rival Twitter, which

When Facebook removed messaging from its main

has already unveiled its plans for an equivalent feature.

app, it seemed designed to protect the Facebook brand
within a rapidly evolving social networking landscape;

Seen in this context, the evolution of Facebook Messenger

as conversations shift away from the major networks

is actually a fairly critical part of the social network’s

towards mobile chat apps, the danger for Facebook was

future success. Although Facebook shares are now trading

that it could become increasingly sidelined, especially with

at twice their IPO price, Mark Zuckerberg and his executives

WhatsApp destined to remain a standalone product.

know that Facebook needs to become more than just a
network supported by advertising revenues alone. Just

But while it was a smart move in that respect, it’s well-

look at the hype surrounding new-kid-on-the-block Ello to

known that social networkers don’t like change – least of

see how weary some users are becoming of its seemingly

all when it’s being forced on them. The level of discontent

relentless focus on advertising.

being vented on forums – and on Facebook itself – was
clear testament to this; while some users didn’t mind the

Facebook’s move into the money transfer and online

migration, lots of them were pretty furious with the social

shopping markets is thus another step in its transition

networking giant. Of course, Facebook has never shied

from a social network to a service provider. And it’s one

away from making changes when it wants to – even when

that could prove highly lucrative.

users were likely to react badly – but this one seemed
bigger than most.
Now we know there was another pretty major factor
at play: Facebook doesn’t just see Messenger as a
communication platform, it wants it have a much bigger,
and more overtly commercial, function – with a bit of
digital sleuthing by a Stanford University student having
uncovered a piece of code showing its planned role as a
peer-to-peer money transfer service.

For further analysis of the topics covered in this section, please
download the following content from the Insight Store:
• Understanding Facebook’s User Numbers (GWI Trend)
• Multi-Networking (GWI Trend)
• Mobile Messaging (GWI Trend)
• Facebook Visitors in MENA (GWI Infographic)

The system mimics the mechanics used by WeChat in

• Instagram Users (GWI Infographic)

allowing users to send money to each other via PIN-

• Social Networking in China (GWI Infographic)

secured transfers based on debit card payments; it’s

• WhatsApp Users (GWI Infographic)

fairly easy to see in this the influence of PayPal’s former
president David Marcus, who joined Facebook in June. And
although other person-to-person payment apps have

• Account Ownership: Social Platforms (GWI Data Pack)
• Active Usage: Social Platforms (GWI Data Pack)

been out there for a while now, Facebook’s huge reach

• Website Visitation: PC, Mobile, Tablet (GWI Data Pack)

would give it a distinct advantage in terms of pushing this

• Mobile Apps Active Usage: Named Apps (GWI Data Pack)

behavior into the mainstream.
29

5

DEVICE TRENDS AND
MESSAGING APPS
Understanding social
behaviors across devices
• Snapchat is the fastest growing app overall, and posts its best figures among
the key teen demographic.

Key Headlines

• The numbers using social networks via a mobile or tablet continue to rise, just
as the audience using PCs or laptops is contracting in size.

• Mobile networkers are young, affluent and most likely to be in fast-growth
nations.

• Outside of China, Facebook is the top social app and its Messenger and
WhatsApp tools dominate in terms of mobile messaging. Inside China, it’s Qzone
and WeChat which lead.

Mobile Networking Continues to Climb
Globally, more than two thirds of the online population are actively using social
networks on a monthly basis – a figure which has crept up very slightly since 2012.
But while PCs and laptops are still the leading devices, it is mobiles and tablets which
are enjoying strong growth rates.

CHART 14: Social Networking and Micro-blogging by Device

30

Question: Which of the following have you done
online in the past month? Used a social networking
service / Used a micro-blogging service /// Source:
GlobalWebIndex Q4 2012 - Q3 2014 /// Base:
Internet Users aged 16-64, exc. China

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “Online Activities” in the free search
box, or click Cross Device > Online Activities - Cross Device Split. Alternatively, you can
download our pre-cut “Used a Social Networking Service” data packs

Across GWI’s 32 countries, 3 in 5 adult internet users are now connecting to social networks via a PC or laptop. In terms
of percentages, this doesn’t represent much of a decrease since Q4 2012 when the figure stood at 62%. Nevertheless, if we
remember that the size of the global internet population has grown considerably over this period, the decline is actually more
substantial than it first appears. Although they remain dominant, then, the direction of travel for PCs and laptops is clear: they
are slowly losing their grip over social networking behaviors.
Comparing PC/laptops to mobiles is perhaps the clearest way to demonstrate this trend. Back in 2012, PCs had a 30-point lead;
as 2014 draws to a close, this has been cut to just 17 percentage points. More than 2 in 5 internet users are now networking
via a mobile, with ever-rising smartphone ownership as well as improving access to 4G coverage highly likely to provide further
boosts.
During the same period, the numbers networking via a tablet have more than doubled. A fifth of internet users are now using
social networks on tablet devices. Whether this rate of growth can continue in the face of bigger and more sophisticated
smartphones – especially in the “phablet” category – will be a key area to watch throughout 2015. As we discuss in our Tablet
Trends report, there is in fact much evidence to suggest that mobiles are beginning to forge a stronger lead over tablets when it
comes to on-the-go activities such as networking.
As we approach the midway point of the decade, close to a third (32%) of internet users say they are engaging with micro-blogs
each month. Here, mobiles are already challenging PCs/laptops extremely strongly as the dominant device, being just five points
behind. Tablets have been posting increases here too but, as with social networks, the mobile audience remains twice as big.
Of course, PCs and laptops will certainly not be abandoned for either genre; the nature of today’s multi-device internet usage
means that these devices will continue to serve as important access points at least some of the time. Nevertheless, mobiles are
increasingly becoming a first-choice device for all things social.

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More Than Half of 16-34s are Mobile Networkers
Mobile networkers are young and affluent, confirming why they have become such an attractive audience to brands and
advertisers.

CHART 15: Profiling Mobile Networkers

%

%
%

Question: Which of the following have you done online in the past
month via a mobile? Used a social networking service /// Source:
GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014 /// Base: Internet users aged 16-64

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “Mobile Activities” in the free
search box, or click Mobile > Activities on a Mobile > Monthly Activities on a Mobile.
Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut “Mobile Activities: Used a Social Networking
Service” data pack

Gender exerts relatively little impact here, with women (44%) only slightly ahead of men (42%). As we might expect, there are
far bigger differences by age: 16-34s (52%) have a considerable lead over the other age groups, with this behavior reaching its
lowest point among 55-64s (19%). And, although the differences by income are hardly profound, it’s still within the top income
quartile (49%) that this activity reaches its peak.

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The most striking variations are to be found at a regional and national level. While more than half of those in LatAm and MENA are
now networking via mobile, for example, the equivalent figures in Europe and North America lag behind at 38% – and this despite
the US being the home of so many of the world’s leading networks. In part, this is a result of internet populations in fast-growth
regions tending to have relatively young age profiles – making them more likely to engage with social networks generally. But
the importance of smartphones in these regions is a key driver too; PCs and laptops played a much less fundamental role in the
development of their internet experiences (and infrastructure), meaning internet users have been quicker to embrace online
activities on their phones.
These regional trends are reflected if we look at rates of mobile networking by country. Mexico is the global leader – where the
figure approaches 7 in 10 – but all thirteen of the markets where this behavior has become majoritarian are fast-growth
nations. At the other end of the spectrum, only a third of internet users or less are networking via a mobile in places such as
Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Japan. As we explore in our Market Reports, these countries are some of the
least enthusiastic about networking at a general level, and hence it’s not a surprise to see them trailing behind global patterns
here.

Facebook has the Top Social and Messaging Apps
When China is excluded from analysis – a market where WeChat is absolutely dominant (see below) – the strong influence of
Facebook over app behaviors is abundantly clear to see.

CHART 16: Top Social and Messaging Apps

Question: Which of the following mobile / tablet applications have you used in the past month? (on any device) /// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014 ///
Base: Internet Users aged 16-64, exc. China

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “Applications”
in the free search box or click Apps > Specific Applications > Specific
Applications Used. Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut
“Mobile Apps Active Usage: Named Apps” data pack

33

In terms of social apps, Facebook (43%) has a five-point lead over second-placed YouTube (38%), with Google+ (24%) and then
Twitter (21%) following behind. Instagram can also claim a decent share – with 16% of adult internet users now using it – but
most other apps then post relatively minor figures.
As we in Chapter 1, it’s now 47% of adult internet users who say they are actively using Facebook. That 43% are engaging with its
app shows just how vital mobile traffic has become to the site (and to social networks more generally) and helps to shed light on
the reason for its booming profits based on mobile advertising.
For messaging apps, Facebook can lay claim to the first and second most-popular apps, with Messenger on 27% and WhatsApp
very close behind on 25%. Earlier in the 2014, WhatsApp had overtaken Messenger as the top messaging app; that Facebook
Messenger has now reclaimed its number one position is an obvious reflection of the social network removing the messaging
functionality from its main app.
Globally, the only real challenge to Facebook comes in the form of Skype – an app being used by just over a fifth of the internet
population (21%) but which has traditionally been associated with VOIP communication only. Now, though, Skype is launching
Qik, allowing users to share 42-second mobile videos that are automatically deleted from the receiver’s phone after 2 weeks
(as well as 5-second ‘Qik Fliks’ for even shorter communications). This is a clear attempt to grab a bigger share of the mobile
messaging market and to encourage more frequent levels of engagement (VOIP calls are typically made quite infrequently,
whereas messaging services are often being used multiple times a day).
The other names tracked in our chart all account for relatively minor shares of internet users. However, as we explore below in
relation to Snapchat, these global figures can mask higher levels of growth and engagement within certain countries or among
particular demographics.

Snapchat is the Fastest Growing Messaging App
In the last six months, Snapchat has been the fastest rising social/messaging app – having grown its user base by 56%
between Q1 and Q3 2014.
CHART 17: Social and Messaging Apps: Growth in Last Six Months

Question: Which of the following mobile / tablet
applications have you used in the past month? ///
Source: GlobalWebIndex Q1 2014 - Q3 2014 ///
Base: Internet Users aged 16-64, exc. China

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform?
Enter “Applications” in the free search box or click
Apps > Specific Applications > Specific Applications
Used. Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut
“Mobile Apps Active Usage: Named Apps” data pack

34

As we saw above, Snapchat remains a relatively minor force overall – being used by just 5% of the
total internet audience – but this figure is impacted heavily by low engagement rates in the oldest
age groups and in certain key markets with large populations.
Facebook Messenger has also grown its audience by more than 50% as users were forced to adopt
it in place of sending messages via the network’s main app. Arguably, therefore, Instagram’s more
organic growth of 47% is more impressive.
Snapchat and Facebook certainly aren’t alone in seeing growth during 2014. All of the apps tracked
in our chart have posted strong increases in the last six months, giving yet more proof of the ongoing
migration of social behaviors to mobile devices.

Snapchat Most Popular Among Teens
Snapchat is not just the fastest growing app – it’s also the one where the coveted teen demographic
over-index the most strongly (in Chart 18, we list all the social/messaging apps where this audience
is ahead of average for usage).

CHART 18: Teen Usage of Social and Messaging Apps

35

Question: Which of the following mobile / tablet
applications have you used in the past month? (on any
device) /// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014 /// Base:
Internet users aged 16-64
Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter
“Applications” in the free search box or click Apps >
Specific Applications > Specific Applications Used.
Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut “Mobile
Apps Active Usage: Named Apps” data pack

China excluded, some 13% of teens worldwide are using the

network like Facebook. And that’s where its rumored investor

Snapchat app each month; that means teens are more than

Yahoo – and its stream of content as well as services such as

2.5 times as likely to be Snapchatting as the average internet

Summly and Tumblr – could prove very useful, especially as

user. But this figure rises much, much higher in certain

Snapchat has been developing its new Discovery feature to allow

countries – with Snapchat performing much more strongly in

people to engage with videos and articles. It’s this sort of content

Europe and North America than in the other world regions.

in which advertisers are likely to be much more interested – leaving
Snapchat’s original reason-for-being, its messaging function, as a

In terms of the key teen audience, Snapchat has its best
coverage in Ireland (38%), Canada (35%) and the UK (35%).
But more than a quarter of online 16-19s are also using it
in Australia, Singapore, the UAE, Sweden, the Netherlands
and the USA. In many of these places, Snapchat is actually
more popular with teens than either Facebook Messenger
or WhatsApp – something which helps to explain why the
service which so famously refused Facebook’s advances
remains a serious thorn in its side.
Despite Snapchat’s success among one of the most closely
observed demographics, though, it still needs to find some
revenue streams. The impending introduction of adverts will
help with this, but Evan Spiegel has already stated that they
will be opt­-in, will be part of the Stories feature and will not
interrupt normal messaging. Snapchat simply doesn’t want
to become an ad-supported platform in the same way as a

largely ad-free space.
Ultimately, then, this would be a deal which would work for both
sides: Snapchat would become more attractive from an advertising
perspective, while Yahoo would gain more of a presence on mobile
as well as access to a young, trend-setting audience. It’s also more
evidence of how social networks are evolving; just as Facebook
is looking to become more of a service provider through its new
payment feature on Messenger, so Snapchat is eyeing up the
content-hub space.
If we return to Chart 18, teens are also noticeably ahead on services
such as Vine (2.6 over-index), Tumblr (2.3) and Instagram (1.5).
The latter shows just how vital Facebook’s acquisitions have been;
while 16-19s are only very slightly more likely than average to be
using Facebook’s main or Messenger apps, their strong adoption of
Facebook-owned Instagram means that this key group is still active
within the wider Facebook network.
36

Qzone and WeChat are the Dominant Apps in China
Among Chinese internet users, two apps are
significantly ahead in terms of engagement, with

CHART 19: Social and Messaging Apps in China

Qzone being the top social app (used by 60% of the
country’s online population) and WeChat being by
far the most popular messaging service (on 59%).
WeChat is in fact the world’s top messaging app if
the Chinese audience is included, and is a particularly
dominant force within the APAC region.
Sina Weibo (49%) and RenRen (28%) also claim
significant shares, underlining the dominance of
local names in this market, but a number of global
names then follow behind – including Google+ (17%),
Facebook (14%) and Twitter (11%).
Back in Chart 7, we saw that these three international
networks were being actively used by 23%, 21% and
19% of Chinese internet users respectively; these
figures for app usage show just how important
mobiles are as an access point for networks which
are subject to official restrictions within China.
Indeed, some two thirds of Chinese Facebookers are
accessing at least some of the time via the app, as
are 60% of China’s Twitter users. Along with VPNs
and Proxy Servers, mobiles are thus a major route
for Chinese networkers looking to access the global
leaders – explaining why names like Facebook and
Twitter have much bigger audiences in China than is

Question: Which of the following mobile / tablet applications have you used in
the past month? /// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014 /// Base: Internet Users
in China aged 16-64

often recognized.
Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “Applications” in the free search box
or click Apps > Specific Applications > Specific Applications Used. Alternatively, you can
download our pre-cut “Mobile Apps Active Usage: Named Apps” data pack

For further analysis of the topics covered in this section, please download the following content from the Insight Store:
• GWI Device (GWI Flagship Report)
• Teens (GWI Audience Report)
• Mobile Messaging (GWI Trend)
• WhatsApp Users (GWI Infographic)
• • Social Networking in China (GWI Infographic)
• Snapchat in Numbers (GWI Infographic)
• Website Visitation: PC, Mobile, Tablet (GWI Data Pack)
• Mobile Apps Active Usage: Named Apps (GWI Data Pack)
37

6

AGE TRENDS
Tracking social
engagement by age
• Of the major networks, Facebook has the oldest audience and, in the last six
months, was the only one to see a decline in active usage among 16-24s.

• Pinterest has seen the highest and most consistent cross-age increases in

Key Headlines

active usage since the start of 2014.

• More than 70% of users on Tumblr and Instagram are under 35, as are nearly
85% on Snapchat – giving these three services the youngest age profiles.

• 16-24s are the most likely to be sharing on social networks, with 50% saying
that one of their major reasons for using these platforms is to find funny or
entertaining content.

Tumblr, Instagram and Snapchat Have
the Youngest Audiences
When the active user bases of the biggest global platforms are split by age, it is Tumblr and Instagram which can claim the
youngest audiences – 38% and 37% of their respective users fall within the 16-24 demographic. Overall, in fact, more than 70%
of their audiences are under the age of 35.
Across all of the social networks tracked in Chart 20, the dominance of the younger age brackets is clear – 16-24s account for
at least a quarter of adult users in each case. Nevertheless, Facebook’s cross-demographic appeal is clear – it has the oldest
audience of any major network, with nearly a quarter of users over the age of 45. Even LinkedIn has a younger overall profile.
In part, Facebook’s older user base is a natural consequence of its being the most popular network globally – and the one that
older users are therefore most likely to have joined too. Clearly, the audience on a platform like Tumblr might be much younger,
but it’s much smaller too. Facebook can also point to the young user base of Instagram. Even so, that YouTube and Twitter both
have higher shares of 16-24s than Facebook is a sign of how behaviors have been evolving in recent years. It’s also a reflection
of Facebook’s ageing user base; original adopters – now within the 25-34 age bracket – are still active on the site, but today’s
youngest generation are not quite as enthusiastic as their predecessors.
In terms of mobile messaging tools, the teen love affair with Snapchat is evident once more; nearly 6 in 10 of its users come
from the 16-24 group, with a mighty 84% being 34 or under.
Kik, WeChat and Line can also boast that more than a third of their users are from this key demographic, whereas a service like
Skype has a much older audience – a result, in part, of it being so popular as a family communication tool.
38

CHART 20: Active Users of the Top Social Platforms and Messaging Tools, by Age

Question: Which of the following services have you used or contributed to in the past month using any type of device? e.g. PC/laptop, mobile phone, tablet, etc. // Which of the
following mobile / tablet applications have you used in the past month? (on any device) /// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014 /// Base: Active social network and active
app users aged 16-64, exc. China

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “Account” or “Active” in the free search box, or click Social Media > Social Platforms > Account Ownership / Active User.
Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut “Account Ownership: Social Platforms” or “Active Usage: Social Platforms” data packs. For apps, enter “Applications” in the free search
box or click Apps > Specific Applications > Specific Applications Used. Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut “Mobile Apps Active Usage: Named Apps” data pack

Facebook Sees Small Decline Among 16-24s
As we saw in Chapter 1/Chart 5, the last six months have seen most of the biggest social networks
enjoying buoyant rises in their membership and active user numbers as the World Cup became a major,
worldwide talking point.
If we look at this by age, though, a pretty telling trend emerges. There’s just one network which
experienced a decline in any of the age groups – and that network was Facebook, among 16-24s.
Now, some context is essential here. Facebook only saw the smallest of drops among this demographic
(-0.5%) and, overall, it remains the top destination for teens and other younger internet users. It’s also far
easier for the smaller networks like Pinterest and Tumblr to post substantial increases, given their lower
starting bases. Nevertheless, that Facebook failed to post an increase among this audience against
the context of all networks seeing rises in all age groups does illustrate the difficulties that the social
networking giant is facing in terms of keeping the youngest segments enthusiastic and engaged. So
too does it suggest that the new features it has been launching in a bid to rival those offered by services
such as Snapchat have been failing to resonate.

39

CHART 21: Changes in Active User Numbers in Last Six Months, By Age

Question: Which of the following services have you used or contributed to in the past month using any type of device? e.g. PC/laptop, mobile phone,
tablet, etc. /// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q1 2014 - Q3 2014 /// Base: Internet users aged 16-64, exc. China

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “Account” or “Active” in the free search box, or click Social Media > Social Platforms > Account Ownership
/ Active User. Alternatively, you can download our pre-cut “Account Ownership: Social Platforms” or “Active Usage: Social Platforms” data packs

Significantly, other big platforms like Twitter, Google+ and
YouTube also saw relatively modest across-the-board
increases compared to the other services tracked in our
chart. Again, we have to recognize that they have the largest
existing user bases, but this is very much in line with the trend
towards more diversified, multi-networking behaviors
where the smaller and more specialist platforms such as
Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr are the big beneficiaries.
Indeed, Pinterest’s growing cross-demographic appear is
clear: it’s the only platform to see a rise of 100% or more
across every age group.

40

16-24s are the Biggest Sharers
One of the reasons why the 16-24 group is usually seen as the most important in terms of social networking trends and
behaviors is illustrated by Chart 22: if we analyze networkers using GWI’s social segmentation, they are the most likely to be
actively sharing content, commenting on posts and interacting with others.

CHART 22: Social Segmentation, by Age

/// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014
/// Base: Social networkers aged 16-64, exc. China

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter
“Segmentation” in the free search box, or click Social Media >
Behavioral Segmentation > Social Behavioral Segmentation.

“Sharers” are individuals who upload photos, hit “like” buttons, re-post/re-tweet or share content; the vast majority of 16-24s
(and 25-34s) fall into this category, with the figures then decreasing in line with age, to hit just 50% among 55-64s.
A similar pattern is present across four of the other segments, with 16-34s leading the way in each case:

• The “creators” – networkers who are uploading videos, writing stories or blogs, running their own websites or contributing
product ideas to campaigns.

• The “commenters” – those who have posted questions or comments across various social platforms.
• The “socializers” – individuals who say they use the internet to stay in touch with friends or to keep others up-to-date with
their lives.

• The “reviewers” – those who are posting reviews and opinions online.
Clearly, then, younger networkers remain the most engaged group; 16-34s carry out the greatest number of activities on social
platforms, as well as having the broadest behavioral profiles.

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Only with the “passives” segment do we see a different situation. This group incorporates those networkers not included in any
of the other categories – i.e. those who are not typically interacting with content or other users in any major way. This segment
includes just 9% of 16-24s but a much more substantial 31% of 55-64s (with the figures rising directly in line with age). So, older
internet users are not only less likely to be on social networks in the first place, those who do use them are less likely to be as
active as their younger counterparts.
This pattern is present once more when we look at the motivations that people say they have for using social networks; across
all ten options tracked in Chart 22, it is 16-24s who post the highest figures.

CHART 23: Social Networking Motivations, by Age

42

BIGGEST OVER-INDEX

Question: What are you main reasons for using social networking
services? /// Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2014 /// Base: Social
networkers aged 16-64, exc. China

Want to explore this data on the PRO Platform? Enter “Motivations”
in the free search box, or click Social Media > Social Network Services >
Motivations to use a Social Network

In some cases, the percentages for the youngest networkers are more than twice those seen in the oldest group – a pattern in
evidence for sharing details of their daily lives, meeting new people, filling spare time and finding funny or entertaining content.
But perhaps the most revealing insights emerge through analyzing the areas where each group over-index the most compared
to the average internet user. Doing this shows that 16-24s are highly focused on following celebrities and with sharing details
of their lives/keeping up to do with what their friends are doing. In stark contrast, many older networkers seem to be engaging
out of habit or because they don’t want to be left behind by their peers – with 55-64s posting some of the strongest relative
figures for using networks because their friends are and because they tend to visit networks as part of their online routine.

For further analysis of the topics covered in this section, please download the following content from the Insight Store:
• Generations (GWI Audience Report)
• Website Visitation: PC, Mobile, Tablet (GWI Data Pack)
• Account Ownership: Social Platforms (GWI Data Pack)
• Active Usage: Social Platforms (GWI Data Pack)
• Mobile Apps Active Usage: Named Apps (GWI Data Pack)

43

7

FUTURE
OUTLOOK

• The arrival of Facebook’s Atlas is very much a sign of things to come in terms
of social advertising. Currently, a third or more of US Facebook and Twitter
users say they are deploying ad-blocker tools when using the internet, while
three quarters of global internet users report having deleted cookies from their
browsers at some point. In this context, techniques which rely on a user being
logged in or identified from personally reported data are set to enjoy a strong
positioning. This is especially true in light of high levels of device sharing and
VPN usage.
• The ways in which people use Facebook will continue to evolve – especially
as networking becomes more specialized and diversified and some of the
smaller platforms like Instagram and Pinterest challenge for mainstream status.
Interactions on Facebook itself will become more passive and less frequent,
although the site will not see any major short- or medium-term decline in
membership or visitor rates. As a result, Facebook will still offer the type of
scale and reach that no other platform can match. Although it has a major
challenge to face in terms of teen engagement, its ownership of WhatsApp and
Instagram will ensure it remains a highly relevant name among this audience.
• Fast-growth nations are set to contribute the lion’s share of growth in terms
of new internet users in the coming years. With online populations in these
markets already the most enthusiastic about social networking, audiences in
these countries are set to grow even more valuable to advertisers in the rest of
this decade.
• If current trends continue, mobiles will soon challenge PCs for supremacy in
terms of the most favored social networking devices. PCs, laptops and tablets
will still represent major access points – with multi-device usage being the
prevailing trend – but networking is transitioning into a mobile-first activity.
Strong uptake of messaging apps and services will be a particular driver for this.
• Local platforms are struggling to compete with the truly global networks
– as demonstrated by ongoing declines in usage on a site like Tuenti in Spain
as well as the closure of Hyves in the Netherlands. Even in China, it’s clear that
large numbers are keen to use international platforms like Google+, Facebook
and Twitter. This does however bring opportunities for truly global campaigns.

44

Jason Mander
Head of Trends

E: jason@globalwebindex.net /// O: +44 20 7731 1614
A Trendstream Limited, Bedford House, 69-79 Fulham
High Street, London, SW6 3JW, England

www.globalwebindex.net

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