How Many People Use Social Media?

You already know that social media is here and growing all the time. That said, it’s important to keep track of some of the specific data regarding the different social networks; it allows you to target the right social networks and plan more effective campaigns. So let’s take a look at some recent developments in social media and how many people are using the major platforms today.

Social Media Statistics: Issues to Keep in Mind

Before we examine some numbers, it’s important to understand some of the particulars when it comes to social media stats. You should, first of all, be aware of the distinction between total and active users. Total users refer to the number of people who have signed up for a service. Active users are people who actually use the service on a regular basis. For our purposes, it’s more helpful to focus on active users.

One problem that can distort social media statistics is spam bots. These are widely used by people who want to inflate their influence on social media. When you see offers to purchase large numbers of Facebook or Twitter followers at a low price, you can be sure that spam bots are being used. Because of the spam bot problem, social sites have purged many accounts that turned out to be fraudulent. Similar tactics are used by websites that want to create the appearance of having lots of traffic. This can be used to sell advertising or to sell websites.

Twitter estimates that about 5 percent of its users may be fake. Facebook, meanwhile reported that as many as 137 million of its accounts may be fake, which is close to 10 percent. Because it’s hard to identify the exact scope of the spam bot problem, it’s probably safest to assume that social media statistics are slightly lower than reported.

People Using Social Media Worldwide

Let’s begin by looking at the larger numbers – people using social media globally. At present, just under half of the world’s population has internet access. This amounts to over three billion people. There are, meanwhile, over two billion active social media users globally. In other words, 2/3 of the people online use social media. This tells you how pervasive social media has become.

When discussing the Internet and social media usage, you must also consider the rapid growth of mobile devices. The number of mobile users worldwide is approximately the same as the number of people with internet access -about half of the population. These two figures, of course, overlap a great deal -that is, people with mobile devices are also likely to have internet access. As mobile is the fastest growing and most popular way to access the internet, it’s more and more likely that someone logging onto a social media site will be doing so from a cell phone or tablet.

Social Media Usage in the U.S.

According to the Pew Research Center, which has tracked social media stats from 2005-2015, nearly 2/3 of Americans use social media sites, about the same as the world in general. What’s really interesting to note about social media usage in the U.S., however, is that there’s been a tenfold increase of adults using social media in the last ten years. 2005 is around the time when social media was just beginning to take off. It has grown steadily, and even exponentially, since that time.

It’s also interesting to note the increase in older users. Social media was originally considered the online realm for young users -teens and young adults primarily. This was certainly true of MySpace, the first giant social network. Since that time, social media usage has increased dramatically among all age groups, including seniors. In 2005, only 2 percent of seniors used social media; in 2010, that figure was 11 percent. By 2015, it had jumped to 35 percent.

As you might expect, usage among other age groups, such as 30-49 and 50-64, has also increased dramatically over the last decade. The highest usage has always been in the 18-29 age group. All of these social media monitoring figures suggest that these platforms are becoming universally popular.

Number of Users for Leading Social Media Sites

Now let’s look at how many people are using the leading social media platforms.

  • Facebook: Statista reports that, as of the end of 2015, there were 1.59 billion active Facebook users. In 2012, that number was just over one billion. As has been widely reported, Facebook use, while staggering, has leveled off someone in the last few years. It’s still the top social network by far, but some newcomers, such as Pinterest and Instagram are now growing faster. Facebook, which replaced MySpace as the hip new social network when it launched back in 2004, is now widely perceived as an older, more mainstream service. Because of this, younger users are starting to abandon it in favor of newer platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
  • Twitter: Statista reports that, as of the end of 2015, there were a little over 300 million active users on Twitter. Like Facebook, Twitter grew impressively from the time of its founding in 2006 to around 2014, when growth began to level off. Like Facebook, it is becoming less popular among younger users.
  • Pinterest: This image-based social site, which launched in 2010, has been one of the fastest growing social sites in recent years. It currently has about 100 million active users. One of the most significant metrics about Pinterest is that users are primarily female. In fact, women make up 85 percent of Pinterest users. On most social sites, gender differences are minimal.
  • Instagram: This is the fastest growing social network among younger users. It has about 300 million active users, who share an estimated 70 million photos daily. Keep in mind that Instagram is a mobile app, which points once again to the growing connection between mobile and social media usage.
  • LinkedIn: The leading professional network, LinkedIn has over 400 million members, with about 1/4 of these in the U.S. Unlike other popular social networks, people mainly use LinkedIn for networking, to find or fill jobs or make new business contacts.

Social media is very dynamic, so you have to keep up with the latest trends and statistics. Older social networks may decline as new ones are launched. You also have to look at who is using each platform and for what purposes. The only overall trend that is unlikely to change is that social media will continue to grow by leaps and bounds.


An Engaging March Madness: Social Media Showdown

As Sweet 16 segued into Elite 8, it wasn’t looking good for the Facebook v. Instagram v. Twitter Social Media March Madness Match-up

Meltwater-Brackets-2016-FACEBOOK.png Meltwater-Brackets-2016-INSTAGRAM (2).png Meltwater-Brackets-2016-TWITTER (4).png

Facebook and Twitter had both chosen Kentucky to win while Instagram chose the University of North Carolina. At this point, Instagram is leading with a bracket percent of 65%. Twitter is trailing with 60%, and Facebook is behind with 55%.


It can be a chicken or the egg argument whether a strong fan base equals a strong team or the other way around. But it’s pretty much agreed that team spirit is key to any sports program. These days that also means online social engagement. So, at the beginning of March Madness, we posed this question: Can the social media enthusiasm of fans, players, and brands propel a team to victory?


The answer? Kind of. The sheer number of social media followers was less an indicator than increase of percent of followers. Heading into the Final Four, underdog teams saw a phenomenal increase in followers on social. On Twitter, Villanova increased their follower count by 269%, and Syracuse had the second highest increase of followers at 181%. Much more heavily favored from the beginning, Oklahoma and North Carolina started out strong with 102k and 292k followers, respectively, and their follower count only increased 24% and 12%. These are healthy increases, but not very different from those of fellow Sweet 16 teams. On Instagram, it was Syracuse who enjoyed the biggest increase of followers at 63.4%. 


Now, on the way to the championship, Villanova is handily killing it on Facebook with an increase of 1158%—yes, you read that right. This amount is lightyears ahead of any of the Sweet 16 teams, let alone the Final Four, who all had increases: Oklahoma at 25%, North Carolina at 2%, and Syracuse at 4%.


People love a Cinderella team, and if support on Twitter is a predictor of the championship game, then Villanova has all but caught up to the momentum UNC came into the tournament with.

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10 Keys to Developing an Agile Brand Strategy

We live in uniquely uncertain times for brands. According to brand strategist Rod Parkes, in a discussion on The Evolving Meaning of Brands, “The meaning of a brand literally depends on how you look at it.” He cites a number of brands as examples, including Google. He says,

“Internet users see Google as a search engine company, but from a business perspective it is at heart an advertising company… So the meaning of the Google brand differs depending on whether you are a search engine user or a potential advertiser.”

The point is, the consumer defines the brand. This means brand strategy must account for constantly altering perspectives—a high level of uncertainty.

In military strategy, if you are unsure of the terrain ahead, then mobility is your key strategy. In volatile market conditions, branding is no different. Agility and responsiveness, adaptability and rapid reactivity are essential traits for market survival. Consequently, the brand strategy process must become faster, less linear, more flexible, and more collaborative.

  1. 1+1>2 = Working in Parallel

All parts of the brand strategy process should proceed in parallel rather than in series; this delivers results greater than the sum of their parts

Agile thinking rejects the overly linear step-by-step framework in favour of combining tasks or performing them in parallel whenever possible to accelerate the branding process. Ideas can come from anywhere.

Whereas traditional brand strategies will say that the process starts with research which informs the strategy which in turn informs creative development, agile thinking turns this on its head and says that any part can inform any other part.

A great visual can inspire the brand strategy. An idea in the brand strategy can lead to a breakthrough in the research. Working in parallel is a core tenet that underlies all of the other keys below.

  1. Multidisciplinary Collaboration

The client and brand consultancy become one integrated team

Typically, a branding team will consist of the marketing team on the client’s side, with limited input from the CEO, and 3-4 brand consultants from the agency. The team presents strategies that need to be approved rank by rank within the company.

The essence of the agile branding approach is forming one team with all the decision-makers present—the agency and client work closely together. Instead of each task being a time-consuming separate link in a long chain of command and approval, a cross-disciplinary team works together to bring the brand to life in real time, cutting months off the process.

  1. Overlapping Thinking and Action

Involve design as early as possible to ensure the message is transported to every cell of the brand

A key aspect of agile strategy development is combining thinking (analysis and strategy) and action (creative design and prototyping) into a single process—this ensures every great idea is actionable from the outset.

When strategists and designers work together to evolve a result jointly, the process is not only faster, but frequently yields unexpected insights. In many organisations this may mean having the product developer, web developers, branding team and marketing team all working together.

  1. Rapid Prototyping

Creating better results though an iterative process

This is an agile process of creating and releasing beta versions of the brand strategy. It starts by building several branding models and positioning directions and assessing the feasibility and implications of each in real time.

This means that each time the team meets, it’s for a prototyping workshop. Select team members based on their ability to collaborate and push ideas across the finish line. Egos, and anyone sitting on the sidelines disparaging others’ ideas, need to be removed from the team as early in the process as possible. Continually improve with each meeting and turn the process into common company practice.

  1. Designing your Brand as an Experience

People remember experiences better than brands

Every point of contact your customers have with your brand is an experience—an opportunity to inspire and delight. Specifically design touchpoints as an engaging experience that reflects your brand’s personality and message. Outline every touchpoint in the rapid prototyping process, and run every idea through the filter of each touchpoint in real time.

  1. Separating Principles from Features

Keep your focus on the high level principles of the brand, and the tactical details will fall easily into place

Today’s brands must be flexible—evolving to meet rapidly changing consumer needs—but this doesn’t mean a brand is infinitely malleable, or it would lose all meaning. Identify and preserve the core principle of the brand—the unalterable brand promise that the customer can rely on over time—while leaving all other facets in constant evolution.

  1. Finding your Unique Buying Tribe

Customers like to buy – not to be sold

Customers want to be better humans and follow higher-order wishes and values. They seek satisfaction through and while purchasing. They create unique buying tribes to combine and pursue their wishes—creating new dynamics. For example, social listening and similar online analytics allow you a fast track to find out who your specific customer groups are.

Brands reflect personalities, and consumers tend to like brands that they see as an extension of their own personality. The task for brands becomes less one of defining the brand than of identifying the customer group that identifies with the brand and letting them define it—managing the brand to meet their needs and aspirations.

In this scenario, those who share the same personality traits are potential recruits to the tribe. This enables lifestyle brands to sell on the basis of their unique personality rather than having to compete on the traditional and overcrowded battlefield of heritage and high-quality craftsmanship.

  1. Monitoring in Real Time and Recalibrating

Harness social listening, and doubleclick and other analytics

Most new brands conduct extensive consumer research before launch, but don’t assume those findings will remain valid forever. Three months is the data half-life for many industries.

Data mining and other analytical tools can keep your knowledge of your consumers up to date, facilitating rapid response when their needs and wishes change. This means any agile strategy team needs to be tech-savvy and on top of analytics on a daily basis—using it as a primary navigation tool for beta version development.

  1. Internal Alignment

An inspired workforce = greater profits

Ensure that the agile strategy development is transported to every cell of your organisation. Organisations that have engaged staff well versed in the new brand strategy grow profits much faster and outperform competitors. This means keeping the whole company in the progress loop and training staff at every brand strategy release.

  1. Mobile First

Design for people on the go with a message that is granular

Today’s markets consist of people on the go. In many countries, especially emerging markets, mobile devices have overtaken desktop computers as the dominant channel for Internet access. Ensure that your brand message can reach potential audiences across multiple communication devices with a granular message.

Social insights to inform product development, campaign content, and measure campaign success are increasingly important. But getting the data organized and working for you isn’t as easy- it requires designing a purpose, involving the right people, choosing a platform, and developing or refining processes. Learn how social insights can move the needle on business objectives across the organization with our webinar on the topic.

This article was written by Daniel Matthews from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.



Brand Crisis or False Alarm: Learning from the Backlash on Coca-Cola’s One-Brand Redesign

Last week, Coca-Cola announced a package redesign driven by its One-Brand strategy. Criticism was swift. Did Coke blur the product lines too much? Did a powerhouse brand just make a massive blunder on par with its infamous New Coke campaign?

It doesn’t take much to push PR pros (and audiences at large) into fight or flight mode. But before we spend our PR budgets fighting the wrong fires, we should always step back and make a proper media intelligence sweep. Here’s how we’d go about assessing the response to Coca-Cola’s redesign.

CokeNewLook.pngMonitor media and social channels to uncover brand mentions, their reach, and public sentiment.

We used sentiment analysis to scan one year’s worth of Coca-Cola news coverage. We found the dates with the most circulated bad news, then drilled down for the corresponding headlines.

CokeNewsSentiment.pngCoke’s recent announcement did not generate its worst spikes in negative sentiment this past year. The top three were in May, October, and then February. What caused them?

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Some stories were negative in scope, but nonetheless showed Coke as a positive influence amid the drama—see how the big sponsors responded to the FIFA scandal in October 2015. A savvy comms person might play up the company’s core values.

Other stories reported the negative impact of external forces—when a strong dollar could mean weaker profits—which might have affected all competitors in the same space or multiple sectors. Without getting too educational, a comms person might explain to investors that a strong dollar means bigger purchases of raw materials and real estate abroad, or a net positive investment in operations and infrastructure. Growth doesn’t just come from revenue, it also takes reinvestment and future planning.

Once we found the juiciest headlines, we compared the share of voice (SOV) of each story among all negatively scored articles.

CokeNegNews.pngHere we pull in all negative news and ignore positive stories.

Media intelligence identified the worst news of the year for Coke: sales of Diet Coke are tanking. With the public stance on artificial sweeteners, that isn’t a surprise; however, were a media frenzy to develop over declining sales, it might be mitigated with a campaign on naturally sweetened products or promoting Coke’s Dasani brand.

Gone Fishin’ for Social

Before calling it a day, we dove into the sea of social media and found the biggest fish of the year.


Here we look at the most negative news story on social media.

We clicked on the surge in social mentions and saw that a Muslim passenger aboard a United Airlines flight was denied her request for an unopened can of Diet Coke. This piece on racial profiling struck the biggest nerve with consumers according to our sentiment analysis, but Coke wasn’t directly at fault for it.

Tahera.pngCoke stayed out of the United Airlines controversy. Of course, they’ve made it easy on their portal for consumers to take sides by, say, sharing a coke with the passenger.

The latest media criticism was that Coke’s redesigned packaging will make it harder for consumers to find their preferred variant on the shelves. It remains to be seen whether this is true, because it’s never an issue until it affects the bottom line. For now, we’ll keep comparing news and social, comparing and investigating spikes. It’s good to not get baited by sensationalist headlines. And with social media monitoring, brands can check whether the smoke and the fire are caused by the same issue.

Sidekick 5/8-5/14

You Cannes do it! Don’t forget to call your mom on Mother’s Day in between the 69th Cannes Film Festival, Friday the 13th, and Top Gun Day. And remember: when life gives you lemons, celebrate Lemonade Day. Just ask Beyonce.

And check back each Thursday for a time-saving roundup of upcoming events, holidays, and trending topics–or subscribe to get Sidekick delivered straight to your email inbox.

Celebrate the Month of May

Health: Lyme Disease Awareness Month, Preeclampsia Awareness Month

Food: Salsa Month, Vinegar Month, Asparagus Month, Hamburger Month, Egg Month, Strawberry Month

Fun: Photo Month, Get Caught Reading Month

Celebrate the Second Week of May

Food: National Hamburger Week

Sunday, May 8

Holidays: Mother’s Day, Lemonade Day, Free Trade Day, Iris Day, Empanada Day, Have a Coke Day

Famous Birthdays: Enrique Iglesias, David Attenborough, Harry S. Truman

TV: The Good Wife series finale (9 PM, CBS)

Sports: Invictus Games (5/8-5/21, Orlando)

Monday, May 9

Holidays: Moscato Day, Lost Socks Day, Butterscotch Brownie Day

Famous Birthdays: Billy Joel, Rosario Dawson, Candice Bergen, John Corbett

TV Premieres: Every Brilliant Thing (9 PM, HBO)

Tuesday, May 10

Holidays: World Lupus Day, Shrimp Day, Ocean Day

Famous Birthdays: Bono, Keenan Thompson

TV Premieres: Little People, Big World (9 PM)

Wednesday, May 11

Holidays: Receptionist Day, Twilight Zone Day, Eat What You Want Day

Famous Birthdays: Cam Newton, Salvador Dali, Blac Chyna, Irving Berlin, Martha Graham

TV Premieres: Chelsea (Netflix)

Events: Cannes Film Festival (5/11-5/22); Relate Live (SF)

Thursday, May 12

Holidays: Yom Ha’atzmaut (Jewish holiday), Nurses Day, Limerick Day, Nutty Fudge Day

Famous Birthdays: Tony Hawk, Katherine Hepburn, Florence Nightingale, Emilio Estavez, Yogi Bera

Album Releases: Islands, “Taste”; Meghan Trainer, “Thank You”; Twin Peaks, “Down in Heaven”

Friday, May 13

Holidays: Shrimp Day, Top Gun Day, Blame Someone Else Day, Apple Pie Day

Famous Birthdays: Robert Pattinson, Lena Dunham, John Kasich

Movie Releases: The Darkness, Money Monster

TV Releases: Just Let It Go: Lenny Kravitz Live (8 PM, Showtime)

Events: Friday the 13th

Saturday, May 14

Holidays: Astronomy Day, Train Day, Chicken Dance Day, Buttermilk Bisuit Day

Famous Birthdays: Mark Zuckerberg, George Lucas, Cate Blanchett, Ron Gronkowski, Miranda Cosgrove, Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), David Byrne