A breakdown of which social media networks are most popular in the top global markets

Brands and retailers already know that social media networks are becoming increasingly dominant channels for engaging with consumers. But did you know that product discovery via social networks is now competing with search engines like Google? In her 2018 Internet Trends Report, venture capitalist Mary Meeker points out that an increasing number of consumers are relying on social media as a search engine for inspiration to make purchases, while the use of Google and other search engines for product discovery is declining. According to Meeker’s report, 55% of U.S. consumers said they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of social media discovery. Of these U.S. respondents ages 18-34, 78% said they rely on Facebook to discover new products; 59% found retail products through Instagram; 59% cited Pinterest; 34% use Twitter, and 22% pointed to Snapchat.

Globally, some social networks are growing more rapidly while others are in decline. To track these ebbs and flows, social media strategist Vincenzo Cosenza has been monitoring the most popular social networks by country since 2009, using traffic data from Alexa and SimilarWeb to compile his list. His annual report appears each year at the World Economic Forum.

Facebook: the reigning international champion

As Cosenza’s report shows, Facebook is still the global giant of social media. Despite the negative media coverage of Facebook’s mishandling of user data, the social network isn’t going anywhere. According to Cosenza’s 2018 report, Facebook is the leading social network in 152 out of 167 countries analyzed – representing about 91% of the planet. If Facebook users were a country, its population would be larger than that of China. It reigns supreme in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia and Australia. Facebook Messenger lags behind WhatsApp globally as the top instant messenger app, but since Facebook owns WhatsApp as well, it’s clear that they’re the social network to beat on a worldwide stage.

The contenders

While Twitter usage is on the decline, Instagram is still acquiring new users from around the world: 75% of Instagram traffic comes from outside the U.S. Other regional social channels are also gaining steam. Odnoklassniki (Russian for “classmates”) is a Russia-based social network that enables classmates and friends to connect. The outlet has 30 million registered users, including countries where Russian is spoken, such as Germany and Benelux.

Keep in mind that social media choices may be limited in certain countries. For example, Twitter is censored by the Chinese government, where users instead turn to Weibo. The dominant social media channel in Iran is Instagram, but it should be noted that Facebook has been banned in this country.

Here are the top social media platforms in the top ten global e-commerce markets:

  1. China – Qzone, Douyin – Tik Tok, Weibo
  2. United States – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  3. United Kingdom – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest
  4. Japan – Facebook, Twitter, Line
  5. Germany – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, VK (VKontakte)
  6. France – Facebook, Twitter
  7. South Korea – Facebook, Twitter, Kakao Talk
  8. Benelux – Facebook, Instagram, Odnoklassniki
  9. Scandinavia – Facebook, Reddit
  10. Russia – VK (VKontakte), Odnoklassniki

As this list shows, the most dominant social networks (Facebook, Twitter) continue to take the largest share of users worldwide. But the ranking order of social channels also varies by location. For cross border retailers, understanding these differences is important when entering new global markets.

Need more information on how to reach global customers via social media to boost your international e-commerce presence? Contact Flow today.