Social Networks Grow 23% Worldwide; India Sees Fastest Growth

According to new estimates by eMarketer, over 1.2 billion people worldwide used social networking sites at least once per month as of December 2011.  By the end of 2012, this number will climb to nearly 1.5 billion internet users.  The study also examines the number of social networking users, penetration rates and growth rates in countries around the world, as well as the projected global growth of Facebook from 2011-2014.

Social Network Users Worldwide via eMarketerWorldwide, social networking saw 23.1% growth over 2011, and while the growth rate will drop in the next few years, it will remain in the double digits. This growth is largely fueled by Facebook’s expansion – except in China, where the site is banned – which is expected to pass the billion-user mark by the end of 2013.  Facebook saw 44% growth in 2011; this is expected to drop to 13.9% in 2014.

India will see the fastest growth in social networking this year (51.7%), followed closely by Indonesia with 51.6%, and China lagging further back with 19.9%.

Countries were also ranked by social network penetration, or having the greatest share of social network users as a percentage of the total population:

  • US took the lead with 49.9%
  • followed by Canada (49.3%)
  • South Korea (46.6%)
  • Australia (44.4%)
  • Russia (41.9%)

Developing countries – where fewer people are online overall – showed social networking as a highly popular activity for those who are online.  In Brazil, 87.6% of internet users will use social networking sites in 2012 (Indonesia follows closely behind with 87.5%).

In terms of overall users, the Asia-Pacific region has the highest number of social network users in the world, with 615.9 million internet users logging on to social sites by the end of this year. Nearly half of those users will be in China, where social network users will outnumber their counterparts in the US by nearly two to one (despite the absence of Facebook).  China and the US are the two countries with the highest number of social network users overall.

These are eMarketer’s first worldwide estimates of social network usage and Facebook usage.