Last year was a dramatic year for the social media industry, with changes that will ripple into 2023: Twitter got a new owner; Instagram made strides to go back to basics, refocusing on community and conversation; Snapchat announced big plans for augmented reality (AR); Facebook was faced with plummeting user growth; and TikTok continued to scale despite a movement to ban it.

This year, each of the top five platforms will confront a slowdown in user revenue and growth, with the exception of TikTok, which still isn’t without its challenges—US regulation on TikTok will come to a head in the coming months and could extend to other countries. 

Amid 2023’s economic challenges, increasing competition of emerging apps, and slowing ad revenue, social media is due for a year of big transformation. 

How much will social media users grow in the coming years?

Close to half of the world’s population uses social networks monthly. Although the growth rate in new users will slow to just 2.4% in 2023, there will still be more worldwide social network users this year (3.76 billion) than smartphone users (3.66 billion), digital video viewers (3.63 billion), or messaging app users (3.41 billion). In fact, the numbers are still climbing in every world region.

By 2025, TikTok will pass a major milestone, joining Facebook and Instagram with 1 billion monthly users worldwide. The powerhouse platform is set to grow at almost double the rate of Snapchat and 2.5 times the rate of Instagram.

Social media users worldwide
There will be three platforms with more than 1 billion monthly users in 2025, with TikTok expected to exceed that milestone by 2025.

Will Twitter have a user comeback?

Twitter will see a mass exodus of users, as Elon Musk continues to make fundamental changes to the platform. Its worldwide monthly total users will drop nearly 4% in 2023 and another 5% in 2024, losing users in nearly every region. 

To lessen the decline, Twitter could develop AI content-moderation tools or add new features to its subscription service, Twitter Blue. It’s unlikely, however, that most Twitter deserters will return, or that new users will join, if Musk is unable to offer new products to attract them—especially so now that consumers have more choices of where to spend their social time than ever before.

Some users have already moved to Mastodon, a similar app that may still too complicated for mainstream users to get on board with. Also gaining from Twitter’s losses are LinkedIn and Reddit—both companies whose ad businesses will grow almost three times as fast as Meta’s and around 10 times faster than Twitter’s in 2023. There’s no one platform that will be a complete replacement for Twitter, so the more likely scenario is that conversations will disperse across multiple platforms. 

Facebook vs TikTok

The world’s most dominant social media platforms are owned by Meta, and that’s not changing. With a rocky 2022 behind it, Meta will look for ways to rebuild its credibility with users and advertisers. Its best hope may be more government officials taking an anti-TikTok stance.

Facebook will grow just 0.3% in worldwide monthly users this year, and its share of internet users will dip under 45% for the first time. Meanwhile, Instagram’s ability to buffer Facebook’s losses is diminishing; although its monthly user base will be up 4.7% this year, its share of worldwide internet users will rise by less than a percentage point, to 28.7%.

With 790.2 million Douyin users in China and more than 900 million TikTok users in the rest of the world, ByteDance’s footprint will amount to over 20% of the world’s population in 2023. By 2026, only 1 percentage point will separate it and Facebook.

This analysis is part of Insider Intelligence’s Worldwide Social Media Outlook 2023 report, which contains more insights and data to help guide your business strategies. To preview the full report, click here