According to the International Telecommunication Union, there are now over 1 billion people in the world who actively use social media.
Of course, it will come as no surprise that Facebook tops the chart as the world’s most popular social network with over 900 million active users (Though differing opinions on what constitutes “active” could make that figure seem a touch optimistic!). Nonetheless, Facebook clearly towers above its closest competitor, Twitter, whose active user count stands at over 200 million strong.
After LinkedIn with its 150 million members, the rest of the big social networks aren’t internationally used (Google is still being cagey about the realistic number of active users currently on Google+) but are very highly localised and enjoy massive popularity in their home territory. China’s QQ, Russia’s Vkontakte and Japan’s Mixi make a significant showing on the ITU’s report in contributing to the vast numbers of people globally who are interacting with social media.
All this interconnectivity through social media has helped to provide a new and more affordable outlet for people to stay in touch with their friends and loved ones. While this benefits the users, telecoms companies now increasingly find themselves competing against social networks like Facebook who provide voice and text services. The partnering of Facebook and Skype has further cemented the social network as a communication medium that is likely to entice more social media users away from telecommunications firms entirely.
However, the ITU report shows that telecoms jobs continue to thrive globally in spite of such competition, as the growth of social media usage is strongly linked to the availability of reliable broadband service. While developed countries have experienced a vast improvement in broadband coverage, the global pace of growth in this area has proved to be extremely uneven. Many industrialised, developed nations have achieved a penetration rate of 26% of internet users, compared with that of developing countries that have as little as 4.8%.
Another key finding of the ITU is that it concurs with Facebook’s claim that mobile is quickly outpacing fixed devices as the main way that users experience social media. Smartphone technology has significantly increased the time spent on social media for the average user in areas where they have access to reliable WiFi coverage. Not only has this opened up a new and fast-growing audience for social networks, companies of every kind are waking up to the vast potential of mobile marketing as a means of connecting with their consumers. As a consequence, developers are finding themselves in higher demand in countries where there is a viable mobile audience. For example, IT jobs in the UK are more widely available to expert developers, as optimising sites for a smooth and simple mobile experience has become a priority for brands that want to cultivate a social media fan following.