A new eMarketer report projects that this year, 2.46 billion people -- about one-third of the global population and 71.0% of internet users -- will access social networks at least once a month.
That’s up 8.2% from 2016, according to Worldwide Social Network Users: eMarketer's Estimates and Forecast for 2016-2021. The digital research firm notes that the growth is driven by mobile phone adoption and expanding mobile coverage.
eMarketer forecasting analyst Corey McNair, the report's author, stated in an article: "In recent years, leading platforms Facebook and Twitter have faced competition from Snapchat and messaging apps like WeChat, which eMarketer does not include in its social network definition, that have adopted overlapping features and services."
According to eMarketer, Facebook and Twitter are focused on developing video content to differentiate themselves from rivals.
However, more video content hasn't necessarily meant more new social network users, but instead helped to reinforce existing usage, the report noted. “North America and Western Europe—and urban areas with widespread mobile bandwidth to support streaming—will see social network user growth of only 2.9% and 3.4%, respectively,” eMarketer stated.
“Most user growth will be driven by the widespread availability of affordable smartphones, accessible Wi-Fi coverage and expanding 3G and 4G networks. Individuals taking advantage of these developments in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East and Africa will largely be new internet users who are signing up for social media for the first time. In 2017, 81.8% of social network users worldwide will log on via a mobile phone. By 2021, that share will grow to 86.7%,” the article stated.