Which Platform Has the Largest Social Media User Base in 2018?

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You might be surprised to learn that as of January 2018, Facebook does not have the largest social media user base. YouTube can claim the title as “King of Social Media” with 73 percent of U.S. adults indicating they use the platform online or via a cellphone, according to Pew Research into Social Media Use in 2018.

Research on Largest Social Media User Base

The following user-base data was derived from a Pew Research phone survey conducted with U.S. adults in early January 2018. Pew does a great job reporting on trends in social media based on extensive surveys with users.

Note in the results below that YouTube is represented by a single dot in 2018, whereas the other channels have line graph data going back to 2012. This singular occurrence of YouTube data is because this study was the first time that Pew included YouTube. In fact, few studies of social media user base sizes have included YouTube, which is why most reports point to Facebook as by far the dominant player in the industry.

Pew Largest Social Media User Base Data

Worldwide Social Media User Base Size

There is some debate as to what constitutes the largest social media user base. For instance, some might consider the total number of accounts as tops, while others have more interest in active usage. January 2018 data from Statistica suggests that Facebook does still dominates globally when it comes to active users. Facebook had nearly 2.2 billion active global users as compared to 1.5 billion on YouTube.

Impact of Video Content Trend on YouTube’s User Base Size

The growth and size of YouTube’s user base is a result of the underlying pattern of growth in video marketing and content consumption in recent years. There have been plenty of research reports demonstrating the massive user interest in videos, which coincide with similar data on rampant production of video content for marketing. The following image offers one of the most concise, compelling bits of data to speak to the power of video content.

Internet Video Traffic in 2017

Other Social Media User Base Sizes

YouTube and Facebook are in a class of their own, as the next largest channel, Instagram, has about half of the size (35 percent of U.S. adults according to Pew Research) of the two leaders. The other prominent channels used in social media marketing are clustered within the mid-20s to upper-20s in terms of percentages of U.S. adult users.

Conclusions

There is some room for debate as to the most appropriate answer to the question, “Which social media platform has the largest user base?” Pew Research indicates that more U.S. adults reported using YouTube than any other channel in January 2018. However, global data from Stastica shows a significant lead among worldwide active users for Facebook.

Regardless of which channel you deem the largest social media user base, both offer ripe opportunities to reach a lot of people with your marketing efforts. Even the other channels noted in the Pew report have strong user bases, which provide ample promotional opportunities for many brands!

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About the Author: Neil Kokemuller

Neil Kokemuller is a veteran college marketing professor with an MBA. He has also been a freelance business and marketing content writer and website creator since 2008.

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