The Growth of Social Media: An Infographic

UPDATE: We have published a new version of this popular Infographic here ->, which covers data up through November 2013.

Say what you will about the tidal wave that is social media: it’s over-hyped, a fad halfway through its 15 minutes, that <insert social network, platform, app> surely won’t be around in a few years’ time.

But take a look below at the steep curve of the user growth rate in all age ranges and demographics, and the continuing pervasiveness of social networking into every facet of work, play and life in general. It’s hard to argue that social media hasn’t changed forever how we interact and connect online. See for yourself: (click image to enlarge)

This is part of a special infographic series by Search Engine Journal. To see the rest go here.

Also available in PDF format here.

Jenise Uehara Henrikson
Jenise is the CEO of Alpha Brand Media, home of Search Engine Journal and LinkPatrol, a WordPress plugin that enables users to find and fix outgoing links on their websites.
Jenise Uehara Henrikson
Jenise Uehara Henrikson

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88 thoughts on “The Growth of Social Media: An Infographic

      1. Sorry, Jenise, I am not sure that I can come to that conclusion as easily as you have. I suppose you have a vested interest in believing so. What is sad with this graph and many like it (and especially the recent slew that try to prove the utility of social media) is how much that is left out as is conveyed. For example, what are your stats about wikipedia? Why are there no numbers of year 2011? Am i supposed to calculate what 21% more of 14 million is myself?Are those approximately 90,000 new contributors annually? How many of them are the same people who contribute to many entries? How many unique contributors does Wikipedia have? What does it say for our society that millions of people rely on Wikipedia as expert knowledge and perhaps fewer than 500,000 people are creating and updating the entries? However, you have all of these quick, positive comments that you can refer to that I suppose, somehow, in the blogosphere give your simple graph more credibility (think of all the pople who have linked to this and isn’t that all is required online for one to be an expert – the # of links people have made to some random thought or belief that one has about something?? It’s all a house of cards (you might want to google that for the meaning), Jenise.

      2. Ouch dave… I normally don’t reply to comments like this but I think you miss the point here. The infographic is just that, information in a graphic representation. There is utility to this graphic especially if you look at it from the perspective of Diffusion of Innovations theory. Social media (as an innovation) has changed the way businesses and government operate. This new medium has impacted individual behavior, which often makes up the actions of those entities. Wikipedia may not be a scholarly source of information and I’m not sure how unique visitors are any better than a regular visitor, but the fact that wikipedia operates on the basis of collective intelligence where anyone can edit an entry is simply amazing. Many within the academic real do not view Wikipedia as a credible source because it is not reviewed like scholarly articles are. However, I would say the review process Wikipedia undergoes is 10 times more rigorous than an academic article, and if it’s still not up to your standard then go change it. Links are not necessarily a value of credibility, rather I think they venerate the authors work. The participatory nature of social media and it’s utility rests upon the principles of openness and authenticity. Apparently enough people (bloggers) find this graphic useful enough to share it with their networks and give it some semblance of value. At any rate, I applaud your attempt to want more credibility and a higher standard of research (which I think is what you are after here), but if you don’t think it’s that worthwhile I would challenge you to come up with one better. If it’s good then I’m sure many people will link to it and share it with their networks. I know I would. Cheers.

  1. Jenise, this is the tallest infographic I’ve ever seen! A great piece of very dedicated work! I’m working from Russia now and can definitely agree on the huge share of vkontakte here. BTW, there’s a typo in “Rusia”. Feel free to remove this part of the comment once fixed. Thanks a bunch for sharing!

  2. Excellent breakdown of social media usage. You have provided insight into some usage patterns which Ioften suspected, such as twitter usage. I would love to see a more in-depth study on Linkedin and where it is heading. Great, informative infographic!

  3. These growth numbers are pretty awesome to see and Facebook’s domination is incredible. Looks like they have some work for themselves in China, Russia and Brazil. After that they can try to takeover the world via the Alan Parson’s Project and demand…one meeellion dollars like Dr. Evil.

  4. The growth in the number of Wikipedia contributors is a bit alarming. Some in the Wikipedia community has created barriers for new users who would like to become contributors. This is counter to the rest of the data on the infographic. Wikipedia is the 5th most visited site on the web, and just over a decade old, it is struggling to maintain its community effort with so many contributors are leaving. People are leaving because of the complexity and bureaucratic overhead.

  5. I’m embedding this on my site. Google Plus is growing pretty fast as well, but I don’t think they will be as big as Zuckerberg’s empire.

  6. I enjoyed the graphs and your conclusions, but it fails to mention that after the initial euphoria of creating an account and reconnecting with friends and family, many account users use social media platforms like Facebook less and less because they discover why it is that they lost contact with their friends and family in the first place. Not to mention, that the self-promotion and false business buzz is dreadfully tiresome. Social media is slowly failing because irrelevancy and dishonesty is its policy.

  7. This is pretty amazing. In just a few years we’ve seen social media create new fields of research and job openings. Hopefully everyone will continue to communicate in person. Are there any companies that have online/work from home employees?

  8. these graphics are great – am shooting an indie film about social media soon – would i be able to use these in a promo for the doc?

  9. Interesting.. but I want to challenge
    Do we have a not that people cannot access to facebook in China? So that FB is not the most popular social media in China. I also believe that a chinese twiter, Weboo / and some korean and Japanese is not counted… :)

  10. I guess, we are not yet seeing the age of sharepocalypse as people are still signing up. Now, what bothers me is the countless news you read on how some entities want to take control of social media, like making it a ground for profiling people. I guess, it’s already happening with Google+ real-name policy and we may yet have to face something we have forgotten amidst this social media frenzy: Share Responsibly.

    1. “sharepocalypse” I like that. It’s been documented that government agencies like the police, FBI etc are already making use of Facebook for investigations and even for evidence. And per the infographic, employers commonly use it to validate resumes and background check potential employees. Sharing responsibly is going to grow in importance, as sharing becomes easier and more commonplace.

  11. Hi Jenise –

    I’m a community planner in Rochester, NY. Next month, I’ll be facilitating a presentation at a municipal conference about how local communities should (and should not) use social media. This graphic would be a great addition to my presentation.

    Permission to use your graphic (or excerpts of it), if properly sourced?


  12. Jenise,

    Thank you for this insightful infographic. It’s really interesting to see the social media trend and how it’s growing. I thought that the infographic really captures the essence of the social media growth. I also liked that you shared other social media platforms other than the popular Facebook and Twitter.

    Best regards,

    Chuck Rayman

    1. Hi Chuck, Thanks so much for your kind words. Although the graphic is a bit US-centric we did want to explore how social media is being used around the globe. For example Facebook, as another commenter pointed out, is currently blocked in China, the most populous country in the world!

  13. Beautiful and so well done! Have you considered doing a similar infographic on how companies are using social learning internally? It might be still too new a concept (for some) to get any solid data, but I would love to see it. My company is in the infant stages of starting a social learning platform and I would love to see how the rest of the corporate world is doing.


    1. Thanks Megan! Interesting idea re: an IG on social learning. I think social learning has been adopted at a grass-roots level so it would be interesting to see how a structured platform facilitates the concept.

  14. First time SEJ reader… On top of the info analysis and great graphics, hats off for taking the time to answer back most of the comments and the openess to share with the proper credit. You’re truly leading by example how to “walk the talk” on social media responsibility in such a simple and humble way.

    1. Wow AHC thank you. The IG was definitely a product of teamwork. The idea, the design and the shaping of it, all came from different people here at SEJ. I’m happy to report that this is part of a series of infographics we’ll be doing on a regular basis. I expect the next one to be published in a week or two. It has to do with black hats… stay tuned!

  15. Thank You Jenise!

    Like Kerry I’d like to use your infographic to point out growth of social media. And just like Megan I’m eager to see any data how companies use social media. Social media 2 be something which brings back relevancy & responsible share.

    – Teuvo

  16. Jenise: Up to this point…..there have been umpteen growth stat’s / estimated RevModels on the phenomenon behind SocMed. You have re-set the entire timeline with this insightful and real-time BENCHMARK!!!! A harbinger of what the future might become.

    Can’t wait to see your ‘update’ graphic when each individual media user across the world will be able to: Plug their SocMed usage into an analytic software – which completely defines all aspects of their site usage / interactivity – creates a distinctive profile – and they auction that data into an advertisers pool for a fee – who pay them (annuity) for the rights to utilize it – which tells the advertiser with what/how often/how much they wish to be marketed to on all of their SocMed usage. Controlling the SocMed ~ Advertising future…Sci-Fi, “Oh, C’mon” or…………………..are we in the community already working on this?

    1. Wow thanks AJ! I love the picture you painted of individuals someday being able to monetize their own personal data. How mind-blowing is that. And I suspect that reality may be closer than we all think!

      1. Technology and SocMed have empowered all of us to become virtual communication marketing channels. Web Ad aggregators work daily to improve the monetization model for their publishers & create . The more my personal virtual communication model is enhanced when I utilize any SocMed channel – why shouldn’t I get paid to become my OWN CPM. Which then begets the aggregators search-is-on for identifying those individual marketing channels for their advertisers, the same as identifying Twitterati who promote in multiple tweets.
        Did you have a PDF of the InfoGraphic? My best for your long weekend.

  17. BTW: Do you have this infographic available as a (non-copyable) PDF? Wanted to be able to share it / cite your work, but not just by URL. Please advise. Thank You.

  18. What are the details on the copyright for this infographic? I would love to get permission to use this in my dissertation. Anyone know who to email to get permission to reprint?

  19. Well, all i have left now is to keep this beautiful work you guys have done here and compare it to the status later on 2012. i truly wonder if google+ will get into the game or fade away like all of googles socila projects…

  20. After getting over my first “ho hum, another infographic” thought and working through this one, I have to say I was seriously impressed and I want to thank you for the trouble taken, especially in the extent and detail of presentation on what happens outside the USA and across age groups. Apart from anything else, I am very grateful as I have a presentation to make on social media to a local business group this week and your infographic’s content will be invaluable for that.

  21. Hi

    I love this! I’d like to use it on a blog, but the embed code doesn’t seem to be working for my wordpress site – any ideas?



  22. Nobody could have done this better than you. If there’s such a thing as saturated with information – that’s how the internet is. The good thing is – people are smart and they will see for themselves which are most credible.. Aaron Eden is right, for us content writers, active in social media, sharing responsibly is like a thrust. Great visuals, I’ll be sharing it on our blog! 😀

    1. Thanks Andrew!
      re: Facebook. The 750M is FB’s total user base not daily uniques. FB has said that about half log in daily.
      re: Twitter, it was also announced on the 9th that Twitter has almost 50M daily active users! The stats change so fast. We may re-issue an update of this infographic in coming months. Stay tuned!

      1. That’s true; I just mentioned it because in your chart it says 640 registered users on Facebook. But you’re absolutely right, social media stats don’t stay accurate for long in any case!

  23. Wow! Nice job Jenise!

    Keep it coming.
    The biggest obstacle in coveying the the message of digital market to organizations is making it visual.
    You’ve done an exceptional job of that here.
    Appreciate your work!

  24. Wow! This is pretty impressive stuff, Jenise. The information you’ve provided certainly makes for a powerful argument as to why businesses should invest time and talent into working social media to their advantage. If anyone thought it was a fad, the statistics show it’s here to stay. This is one of the most impressive infographics I have seen…on any topic. I look forward to sharing this with my readers.

    1. Thanks for sharing Karen. There is no doubt that *some* social networks will not be here in the long run; the space will consolidate/aggregate as part of the evolutionary cycle that every booming industry has gone through from autos to telcos. But at this point it’s hard to imagine the social media force itself won’t be around in some incarnation for years to come.

  25. Interesting insight on Social Media usage. Even more interesting thing to see different sites dominating each country in the BRIC Nations or the emerging economies i.e Brazil – Orkut, FB, Russia – Vkontakte, India – FB, Orkut, China – Qzone. Do you see any specif reasons for such spread? I could see local language a major reason in Russia and FB is blocked in China. But, why do you think Orkut dominates in Brazil?

    1. I don’t think it’s so much that we have forgotten Bebo and MySpace but more that these groups tend to be utilized by a much younger demographic. If I remember correctly, the last time I saw figures (and I admit it was a while ago) Bebo had the youngest demographic, with most users under the age of 17, and MySpace also had primarily under 24 users. I think that may be why they have fallen off the radar.

  26. I would say Social Media will grow even if there is a paradigm shift over to Google +1 from Facebook. has put up a social network that looks like the original Myspace. Tumblr is also a new one that people are talking about

  27. Nice post ……and im also using facebook .. because of my all friend are online every time ….im also create account on google+ ..this social website are new but it’s structure is very nice and i think this social website are very soon grow up

  28. the growth of social media took over every aspect of our lives. today people don’t use the New channels they create it on the web, the influence of social networks is so vast it started to be a real strong signal on Google SERPS and other search Engines, today to determine how a site is popular social media is one of the corner stones for ranking higher. this post is a prediction for today :)