While social media networks have become a pervasive presence in many of our everyday lives, particularly in North America and Western Europe, the fact that almost one third of the world’s population will use said networks regularly by the end of 2016 is still shocking.
According to a report from eMarketer, one third of the world’s total population translates into approximately 2.34 billion people, which is 32 percent of the global population and 68.3 percent of total Internet users.
The number of people using social media networks via any device at least once a month is only expected to increase over the years, as Wi-Fi and data networks become more widespread globally.
This prediction is reinforced by the fact that 43 million more people use social media networks in 2016 than in 2014 (growing from 1.91 billion to 2.34 billion).
From 2015 to 2016 alone, the report found there was a 9.2 percent increase in social network users.
By 2020, the number of people accessing social networks monthly will reach 2.95 billion, 70.7 percent of all Internet users.
This increase can be partly attributed to the higher than expected prevalence of social network use in China and higher estimates for Internet use in India.
The report further claims growth can be partially accredited not only to the expansion of Wi-Fi and data networks, but also to the rise of Snapchat, Instagram, and messaging apps that use some of the same features and services as social networks. For example, China's most popular social platform is a messaging app called WeChat.
Although social network use has become essentially a daily part of life for many in North America and Western Europe, these digital markets are nearing saturation, according to the report.
This year the number of social network users will increase by 3.1 percent in North America and 3.8 percent in Western Europe, a relatively small jump compared to previous years.
But, according to the report, this deceleration will be offset by a new wave of social network users coming from mobile phone users in Asia-Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, where Wi-Fi and 3G and 4G networks are becoming more widespread.
As a result, by 2020, 85.9 percent of social network users will access said networks through mobile phones. The number of mobile phone social network users will hit 2.53 billion.
This is a 5.9 percent increase from 2016; currently, 80.2 percent of all social network users access these networks via mobile phones, the equivalent of 1.88 billion people.
The fact that, this year, over 80 percent of social networks are accessed through mobile phones highlights the prevalence of mobile as a platform — evidently, it will only become more important.