If you have experience in social media marketing, are interested in getting involved in it, or are a business owner looking to use it, it is beneficial to be aware of the current most popular social media platforms with the highest maximum active users(MAU). This knowledge will enable you to reach a wider audience for your brand, connect with the appropriate individuals, and accomplish your social media objectives. Every year, social networking platforms play a game of musical chairs as the public’s preferences, new players, and global trends change. This shuffle in social media’s leaderboard is fascinating to industry experts and beneficial for digital marketers.
Your company’s social media marketing strategy must clearly understand each platform’s reach in the global online community. It’s also important to consider other nuances related to their growth. Deciding which social network to focus on for promoting your brand is a significant decision that shouldn’t be based solely on intuition. When considering social media, size isn’t the only factor to consider. Ensuring the social networking site aligns with your business and brand image is essential. It would be best to consider whether your target audience is active on that platform and whether you can manage multiple social media accounts simultaneously.
This article has conducted thorough research and organized a list of the most popular social media platforms for the year 2023 for your convenience. You may recognize some of them, while others may be unfamiliar.
Table of Contents
MAUs — Over 2.96 billion
Facebook is the biggest social networking site, with almost 3 billion monthly active users. This amounts to approximately 37% of the global population. Therefore, Facebook holds the top spot as the most dominant social media platform.
Facebook may not have started the social media revolution, but the giant has revolutionized how humans interact online. Despite its early struggles and controversial image, the platform has experienced incredible growth since its launch in 2004.
Over 200 million businesses, mainly small ones, utilize Facebook’s tools. Additionally, over seven million advertisers actively promote their businesses on the platform, making it a reliable option for establishing a social media presence. Starting on Facebook is effortless, as the platform supports various content formats, including text, images, video content, and Stories. However, the Facebook algorithm gives preferential treatment to content that generates discussions and meaningful interactions among people, particularly those among family and friends.
MAUs — Over 2.2 billion
Users watch billions of hours of videos daily on YouTube, which is a popular video-sharing platform. It is the second largest search engine after Google, its parent company. With 2.29 billion registered users, YouTube is our list’s second-most popular social media platform.
In 2005, a video-sharing platform was launched to be a dating service. The founders even published Craigslist ads encouraging women to post videos about their ideal partners. However, the lack of response led to the site opening up for videos. This decision proved wise, turning Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim into multi-millionaires. Despite facing numerous technical and legal challenges, the company became the world’s leading video-sharing platform, ultimately resulting in Google acquiring it for $1.65 billion in just 16 months after its official launch.
Did you know that over 30% of YouTube’s traffic comes from just three countries? The United States takes the lead with 16.4%, followed by India with 9.2% and Japan with 4.8%. If you’re using video to promote your business, including YouTube in your marketing strategy is essential. To begin, create a YouTube channel for your brand. Additionally, you can improve the visibility of your videos by learning about YouTube SEO or advertising on the platform to expand your reach.
MAUs — Over 2 billion
WhatsApp is a widely-used messaging application that has users in over 180 countries. Initially, people used WhatsApp to send text messages to their loved ones. However, people also started using it over time to communicate with businesses.
WhatsApp was founded in 2009 by two ex-Yahoo! employees. Initially, the app aimed to display “statuses” beside contacts in a user’s address book rather than being an instant messaging (IM) app. However, this unintentional shift in focus resulted in WhatsApp becoming a dominant player in the free IM market. Ultimately, this success made the founders incredibly wealthy, thanks to Facebook acquiring the app for $16 billion in 2014.
WhatsApp’s platform can be utilized by businesses to provide customer support and keep their customers informed about their purchases. Small businesses can use the WhatsApp Business app, while larger enterprises can use the WhatsApp Business API. In 2020, WhatsApp reached an impressive milestone with a user base of over 2 billion, and it has continued to increase, with the last billion users joining in just four years. As the most widely used messaging platform, WhatsApp presents an excellent opportunity for businesses to offer top-notch customer service.
MAUs — Over 2 billion
Instagram is a social networking platform that focuses on visual content. It’s an ideal place to showcase your products or services using photos or videos. With features like photos, videos, Stories, reels, live videos, and IGTV for longer-form videos, you can share a wide range of content on the app.
Instagram was created in 2009 by Kevin Systrom, a former Google employee who thoroughly analyzed the social media landscape. Thanks to an early seed funding round, Systrom was able to pivot the app’s focus from whiskey and bourbon enthusiasts to a more diverse audience. The app now boasts industry-leading image manipulation technology and offers a highly immersive social experience that outshines other image-sharing services of its time. In April 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion when it had 35 million users. By three months later, the user base had grown to 80 million. As of June 2016, it had reached 500 million users. Instagram’s demographic primarily consists of users under 35, with 71% falling into that category.
As a brand, it is possible to create an Instagram business profile that offers insightful analytics of your profile and posts. This profile also allows the use of third-party tools to schedule Instagram posts. Moreover, it is an excellent platform for gathering user-generated content from your audience, as users often share content and tag brands.
MAUs — Over 1.26 billion
In 2011, Tencent, a major tech company in China, launched WeChat. Initially, a messaging app, WeChat, has expanded into a comprehensive platform similar to WhatsApp and Messenger. In addition to messaging and calling, it enables users to shop online, pay bills, purchase groceries, transfer money, reserve services, hail taxis, and perform many other functions.
Apparently, WeChat has become so popular in China, although it shares users’ private information with the government for surveillance and censorship purposes. However, WeChat is widely used in all aspects of Chinese life and even by older age groups. In fact, in 2018, 98.5% of Chinese mobile users between 50 and 80 years old were registered WeChat users, with 60% of those over 60 using more than half of their mobile data on the app.
If you want to increase brand awareness in China, where popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter are banned, WeChat is a great alternative. It’s the most widely used social media platform in China and other parts of Asia. You can advertise on the official WeChat account or WeChat Moments and leverage the many WeChat-based influencers to reach millions of Chinese consumers.
MAUs — Over 1 billion
There’s a popular app called TikTok (also known as Douyin in China), where people can create and share short videos. Even though it only started in 2017, it’s already one of the fastest-growing apps worldwide. It recently surpassed Google as the most visited website. Two years after its launch, TikTok became one of the top five most downloaded apps globally. And a year after that, it became number one, outperforming WhatsApp by a massive margin of 250 million downloads.
On TikTok, users can create and share videos 15 to 60 seconds long. The app offers a wide range of sound effects, music snippets, and filters to help users make their videos more visually appealing. Whatever your interests, you can find videos on TikTok that cater to them, including lip-syncs, dancing, challenges, DIY tricks, and make-up tutorials. In the United States, 47.4% of TikTok users are between 10 and 29, making it an excellent platform for businesses targeting a younger demographic.
MAUs — Over 617 million
In 1999, Tencent released QQ in China. It was the most popular Chinese messaging app before the launch of WeChat. QQ offers instant messaging, avatar decoration, movie watching, game playing, music streaming, online shopping, blogging, and payment. Originally called OICQ, this downloadable instant messaging service quickly became China’s go-to digital contact platform, leading to the decline of email in the country.
Although WeChat dominates the Chinese market, QQ remains a favourite among younger users and has a presence in 80 countries, supporting multiple languages. A key advantage of QQ is that users do not need a phone number to register, making it ideal for those who rely solely on desktop devices. However, QQ has yet to establish a significant global presence, as its international versions lack many features that make it popular in China. As a result, its value outside of China may be limited.
The primary users of QQ are professionals in the workforce. This is due to the desktop messenger’s user-friendly interface and capacity to transfer files larger than 25 MB, a feature not available on WeChat.
MAUs — Over 573 million
“Weibo” is the Chinese term for “micro-blog.” It was created by the Chinese technology company Sina Corporation in 2009. Similar to Twitter and Instagram, Weibo is a microblogging platform. Originally a micro-blogging site, Weibo has become China’s third-largest social network.
Weibo is different from other Chinese platforms on this list. It emphasizes the creation, delivery, and consumption of user-generated content. Weibo is an information hub for businesses, journalists, influencers, and regular individuals. With Weibo, users can share images, videos, and stories. They can also view trending topics, use hashtags in their posts, and engage in instant messaging.
Compared to WeChat, Weibo has a younger audience and provides more trending and informative content. According to The New York Times, if you want your content to go viral in China, Weibo is the platform to be on. Businesses can also establish official and verified accounts to engage with their followers and use paid advertising. Unfortunately, the government strictly monitors and censors the information shared on Weibo. However, this has not deterred foreign businesses from promoting themselves to a significant portion of China’s population.
MAUs — Over 573 million
Kuaishou is a Chinese competitor of Douyin or TikTok. Like its rivals, Kuaishou enables users to add text and stickers to images or videos and include sound clips. Additionally, users can live stream content to their followers on the platform or record longer videos. The Chinese population of 1.5 billion has a great fondness for video-sharing and live streaming, to the point where we are discussing the second app that focuses solely on the Chinese market.
Kuaishou is the second-largest video-sharing social network in the country, with about 80% of Douyin’s total active users. It provides similar functionalities to Douyin, but significant differences exist in the content types created by the two networks and how they are selected and presented.
Kuaishou is more prevalent among an older audience, particularly in rural China, than TikTok. Additionally, the app generates more revenue from e-commerce rather than advertising.
MAUs — Over 557 million
Snapchat is a social media platform that emphasizes photos and short videos, known as snaps, shared among friends. It pioneered the vertical video format, which other platforms like Instagram and TikTok have since adopted. However, the popularity of Instagram Stories has seemingly impeded Snapchat’s growth and reduced marketers’ interest in using the platform for brand promotion.
If your target audience consists primarily of teenagers, you may want to consider using Snapchat. This photo and video-sharing platform is popular among 69% of U.S. teens. One reason for its popularity is that Snapchat only displays posts for a limited time before they are deleted permanently, adding an element of immediacy that appeals to younger mobile internet users. Additionally, Snapchat’s augmented reality filters and lenses set it apart from other social networks, making interactions on the app more creative and irreverent.
Between the fourth quarter of 2017 and the fourth quarter of 2020, the app’s usage has consistently increased in two specific regions. However, during this same period, the number of daily active users in other parts of the world has significantly risen, going from 47 million to an impressive 99 million. As of December 2020, the number of Snapchat daily active users in the “rest of the world” is more significant than those in the United States and Europe.
MAUs — Over 550 million
Based on data released by Hootsuite, Android users of Telegram tend to spend more time on the app than those on Facebook Messenger. The report from social media experts indicates that the average user spends 2.9 hours per month on Telegram, while Messenger users spend 2.7 hours. Brands may implement various strategies on Telegram, such as developing chatbots for the platform or utilizing Telegram’s channel feature to disseminate messages to a maximum of 200,000 users. These methods go beyond offering one-on-one assistance and support to customers.
MAUs — Over 444 million
Pinterest is a fantastic platform that offers inspiration and the opportunity to discover new products and ideas all in one place. Users can “pin” photos that lead to various content across the internet, such as websites, product pages, and blog posts. It’s an effective way to drive traffic to your website, especially since Pinterest users are seven times more likely to purchase products they’ve pinned. As of March 2023, most of Pinterest’s users (approximately 23%) reside in the US. Germany comes second with only 3.9% of the user base, and France is third with 2.7%.
The company made an impressive announcement during their Q4 earnings report to shareholders. They reported a remarkable 46% rise in international monthly active users (MAU) while seeing a more modest 11% increase in new MAU domestically. Historically, Pinterest has been primarily dominated by female users, with a split of approximately 60/40 per cent. However, the platform has seen a noteworthy increase of 50% in male users in 2020, indicating that this gender gap is gradually decreasing.
Pinterest is a social platform focusing on popular topics such as fashion, beauty, home, gardening, and DIY. Pinterest marketing can be a great way to gain exposure if your business operates in any of these industries. In 2020, the image-sharing platform experienced significant growth, with over 100 million new monthly active users between January and December. Brands looking to promote themselves on Pinterest should note that the platform is only beginning to expand outside the United States.
MAUs — Over 430 million
Reddit is a well-known platform that allows users to upvote popular content. It has earned the nickname “front page of the internet” due to its diverse range of topics, which include current events, celebrity “ask me anything” (AMA) sessions, and in-depth discussions of obscure subjects. Reddit is an excellent place for those with niche interests, as communities can embrace, educate, and even poke fun at you, no matter your passions.
There are dedicated forums, known as subreddits, for almost any topic you can think of. However, it’s important to note that not all subreddits have the same level of engagement. It’s a good idea to research popular subreddits that your brand could participate in. For instance, if you’re a beauty brand, you might consider joining r/beauty. Keep in mind that most subreddits have rules against self-promotion. The goal is to engage with other members by contributing to discussions, sharing tips and resources, and asking and answering questions.
Reddit is a social network that has been around since 2005 and is one of the oldest ones on our list. It resembles traditional discussion forums, but this has not stopped it from attracting new users. Reddit has continued to grow year-on-year, with a 30% increase in monthly active users. Besides sharing content and engaging in discussions, Reddit is also a great source of content ideas and advertising opportunities.
MAUs — Over 238 million
Twitter, now rebranded as “X,” is a popular social networking platform with over 238 million monthly active users (as of Q1). It allows users to share information on various topics, including news, entertainment, sports, politics, and more. Its focus on real-time information sets Twitter apart from other social media platforms. Users can stay up-to-date on the latest trends and events as they unfold, all within the confines of a concise 280-character limit (or 140 characters for Japanese, Korean, and Chinese). This makes Twitter a powerful tool for staying informed and engaged with the world around us.
Twitter is a popular customer service channel for many brands. Advertisers report that over 80% of social customer service requests are made on Twitter, while Salesforce has dubbed it the “New 1-800 Number for Customer Service.”
MAUs — Over 424 million
LinkedIn has experienced tremendous growth in its user base, with over 424 million monthly active users. The platform has evolved from being just a job search engine or resume site to a professional networking platform where industry experts can engage with one another, create and share content, and build their brands. This presents an excellent opportunity for businesses to establish thought leadership in their respective industries, attract top talent, and enhance visibility. With its diverse features and functionalities, LinkedIn has become an indispensable tool for professionals looking to improve their career prospects and build their networks.
MAUs — Over 300 million
Quora is a platform where users can ask and answer questions on various topics. The community-based Q&A website and app rank questions and answers based on views, votes, reviews, and shares. It is a valuable resource for those seeking information and insights on various subjects.
As a business, you can establish a Quora page or engage with employee advocates to address inquiries regarding your offerings or industry-related topics. Quora also offers an advertising platform for brand promotion. With most users conducting online research before making significant purchases, utilizing Quora can effectively target customers actively seeking products or services.
MAUs — Over 140 million
Twitch is a live-streaming platform specializing in gaming content and other forms of entertainment. Users can create their channels, stream their gameplay, and engage with their audience through chat.
Twitch has emerged as a vital platform for gaming and esports enthusiasts. It is a broadcasting platform for several pro players, teams, and tournaments. The key to Twitch’s triumph is its community-focused strategy that enables creators to establish a loyal following and generate revenue through subscriptions, donations, and sponsorships.