Which Is The Fastest Growing Social Media Network in 2020?

Social Media Article
20 mins

Every year in January and February, there are a host of new stats released for social media and digital platforms performance. Knowing which platforms are on the up and actively growing as well as which have fallen on harder times can be really important when it comes to informing your digital marketing strategy. It’s not the only metric the smart marketer will be using. Who the audience is and demographic reach are massively important as well, but for most marketers, resources and time are a precious commodity and there just isn’t enough to be everywhere on every platform. All of us want to reach a growing potential audience so overall usage and engagement stats are a great starting point to understand and follow.

The snag is that a lot of the data available online contradicts alternative reports or fills in missing gaps with published ‘facts’ from other sources to try to give a complete picture.  For any of you how have delved into the statistics you will be well aware of what a minefield finding reliable social media stats can be. So many sources, so many different metrics, so many published ‘truths’! Which are you to believe?

Each year one of the areas we look into is Social media platform usage stats. A really great source of well-researched data is We Are Social’s annual Global Digital reports published in association with HootSuite. Unlike a lot of the stats thrown around the internet about social media platform usage, the global digital report cites its sources and makes it clear from where and over what time periods the information has been gathered. So out of interest, a couple of years back, we thought we would analyse and compare the social stats published in 2017 ( see slide 46) vs 2018( see slide 59) to see which social media platforms had the highest rate of growth. The results were quite exciting but it wasn’t as easy as we had hoped it would be and there were some lessons in the process that we want to share with you.

We Are Social’s annual reports are an amazing feat. They definitely shine a torch on an otherwise dark and hard to determine arena of online social media metrics. Small criticisms aside ( more on this in a moment) the reports they produce are epic and you should definitely familiarise yourselves with them if you are looking for some supporting stats to help support your focus and strategy. They have recently published their entire back catalogue at https://datareportal.com/ Its a fabulous resource for marketers wanting to delve into country by country detail as well as comparing and contrasting different reports over different years. This is one you will want to bookmark and share so do that now.

Here is the comparison table for Social Media Platforms Active monthly users comparing figures published by WeAreSocial in 2019 and 2020. We have simply calculated the gains and % change from the data in the two annual reports.

Growth in World’s Most Used Social Media Platforms

( All numbers in Millions)
2019 2020 Gains % Change
Facebook  2,271 2,449  +178  +7.27%
YouTube 1,900  2,000  +100   +5.00%
WhatsApp*  1,500  1,600  +100  +6.25%
Facebook Messenger* 1,300  1,300 
Weixin / Wechat 1,083  1,151  +68  +5.91% 
Instagram 1,000  1,000  –  – 
Douyin / TIKTOK 500  800  +300  +37.50 
QQ 803  731  -72  -9.85% 
Sina Weibo 446  497  +51  +10.25% 
Reddit 330  430  +100   +23.26%
Snapchat**  287 382  +95   +24.87%
Twitter 326 340 +14 +4.12%
Pinterest 250 322 +72 22.36%
Data from We Are Social’s Globals Digital Overview reports Jan 2019 and Jan 2020 s
** These platforms do not publish Monthly Active Users ( MAU) data.
* No updated figures for the last 12 months data may be unreliable
Figures for Twitter and Snapchat use each platform’s latest advertising audience reach 

We have ordered the data by current reported size in decreasing order. It comes as no surprise that Facebook is the largest platform, despite its challenges in 2019 Facebook continues to dominate in terms of sheer numbers of active monthly users. However, based on these reported figures the overall growth of the platform has slowed significantly healthy at 15.83% but in growth terms, it would certainly appear to be slowing and is almost half what we reported back in 2018 when it was pushing almost 15% growth year on year.

Facebook’s User Growth Appears to be Slowing

In terms of sheer speed of numbers growth, Facebook is no longer king as it was in 2018. That honour goes to TIKTOK with an enormous 300 million growth in reported active users since January 2019 leaping an astounding 37.50% since Jan 2019. We think that’s perhaps something to do a ‘badly lip-synced but altogether hilarious song and dance’ about.

Snapchat Growth

Snapchat Continues to amaze us, bucking the trend of doom and gloom headlines the platform often seems to attract. The report shows they achieved 24.87% growth in regular users, adding 95 Million to their platform. There is here one small but important footnote to take on board. As a platform they don’t publish Monthly Active User Figures ( MAU’s) and so the report references their published Advertising Audience reach. ( the same is also true for Twitter in these reports) Either way we still think it tells a different story to the one we feel we have been reading. Perhaps its time stop believe the negative media anti-hype around Snapchat. Users are still loving the platform.

TikTok Growth

Hot on TikTok and Snapchat’s heals in the speed of growth stats is Reddit. We have to admit, we didn’t see that coming, but Reddit appears to be having a massive renaissance. It’s disappeared from the headlines for the last few years, but users are loving it and flocking in their droves with an extra 100 million more joining the platform regularly compared to January 2019 published figures. That’s a 23.23% overall ‘Karma’ increase, and it gets our upvote.

Instagram Growth?

Instagram … well suspiciously there doesn’t appear to have been any reported growth in Instagram numbers but we believe this may just be down to what data has been reported. If you read the small print under 2020’s chart in the We are social report it does state there has been no data for 12 months and so these figures may be unreliable. So sadly, for this annual roundup this isn’t a platform we can comment on. Lesser marketing Stat fans might extrapolate from this that perhaps the numbers and growth just were not impressive enough and so weren’t published, but that would be pure conjecture and we would never do that!

LinkedIn Growth?

Some of you might be wondering where Linkedin is in these figures? Well, that’s an interesting one. We Are Social dropped LinkedIn from the 2019 slide on social media growth. They had previously reported 303 million monthly active users in the 2019 edition of the report ( see slide 84 here) but if you read the footnote to the chart it states that for LinkedIn they have reported registered members so these numbers are not directly comparable to other platforms.

LinkedIn doesn’t publically report on Monthly Active Users ( MAU) The only comparable figure we could find in the 2020 report was from LinkedIn’s Advertising reach which was 663.3 million (see slide 136 here). Although these 2 figures would appear to be showing enormous growth, we have no way of determining how each number compares. So although we might assume growth, I wouldn’t assume we can compare and extrapolate with any degree of accuracy. It’s a shame, but until we can get some numbers to compare apples with apples we should avoid drawing conclusions. Our guess is that’s why LinkedIn was removed from the Monthly Active User data in the 2020 report ( See slide 95 here)

And this data anomaly had us thinking that maybe Comparing Advertising reach growth of the different social ad platforms might be an interesting analysis… so watch this space.

Increased Interest In Pinterest

Pinterest similarly is growing at a huge rate, adding 72 Million regular users on 2019’s published data. 22.36% growth in 12 months is clearly all pins and no needles in our book. Overall reported users are still one of the Lowest reported for Pinterest but if they carry on performing in this way they will soon overtake Twitter.

So the Winner is…

So in conclusion, The fastest growing popular social media network 2019-2020 is…. (drum roll please) ….TikTok! We would also put in honourable mentions for Snapchat, Reddit and Pinterest.

If all these channels continue their annual user growth at this level, it won’t be long before Facebook and Instagram’s dominance as the largest networks is challenged. That’s one to watch, and given these results, we will be watching!

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