The 17 most popular social media platforms

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In 2023 most people use social media and are present on some social media platforms. But which social media platforms are worth spending time on? Which are the most popular ones? Whether you want to expand your business’s online presence or you just want to try a new interface to widen your target audience, it is worth knowing where you can find the people that might be interested in what your business offers. 

Needless to say, among the social media platforms, there are big names that lead the list, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. From time to time, however, a new platform comes along that suddenly changes trends and everyone starts using it. A great example is TikTok which became instantly popular worldwide during the time when people stayed inside their homes due to covid lockdowns. Then there are those platforms that have a huge audience, but many have not even heard of them. 

Undoubtedly, it is not easy to navigate among the thousands of social media sites available today. That’s why we decided to help you out by creating a list of the 17 most popular social media platforms you should know about. So in today’s article, you will get to know the most popular social media platforms. If you’re ready, let’s take a close look at each!


The ranking of social media platforms


The ranking of the popularity of social media platforms is based on a simple metric,  which is nothing more than the number of monthly active users. More simply put, it is the number of people who visit the given social media platforms at least once a month. This is called MAU, which stands for monthly active users. Fake profiles aside, this is a pretty good measure of the real user base that shows how popular a social media platform is. publicated the result of their research, which offers us the list of the most popular social networks worldwide as of January 2023. During the research, they analyzed the number of monthly active users and created a list of the 17 most popular social media platforms. In the first part of our article, we are going to take a close look at this list and see what each network is best known for. 


#1 Facebook


Now, this surely won’t be a surprise to anyone. We don’t think we need to introduce the most popular social media platform in the world, but let’s see a few important details about it. Facebook was launched in 2004, and success came instantly. It had one million subscribers in just ten months! Also, 8 years later, this number reached one billion! Moreover, in 2021, Facebook counted already more than two and a half billion users worldwide. Although more and more social networking sites appear, Facebook’s popularity is unbroken, even in 2023 it is the most popular social media platform available.

In terms of the number of visitors, only YouTube and the Google search engine can overtake Facebook. No matter what type of group you’re targeting, there’s a good chance you’ll find it on Facebook. Unfortunately, the organic reach on the business side has become quite low in recent years, but by creating advertisements, you can reach a wide audience. For business users, Facebook’s advertising system or organic tools such as groups offer a lot of opportunities, so if you have an online business make sure to include the world’s most popular social media platform in your marketing strategy.


#2 YouTube


The second most popular social media platform is YouTube. Launched on February 14, 2005, by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim, Youtube is still the dominant video site. Also, it is important to mention that the numbers can be deceiving here. The reason for this is that while you can access most of the other social media platforms on the list only after registration, you don’t even need to register to use YouTube. So this means that the real numbers are probably much much higher than the ones measured.

In addition to being the second largest social media site and the second largest search engine, right behind Google, there is already a separate branch of search engine optimization that deals with the optimization of YouTube content. The organic reach of YouTube is outstanding, so even without ads you can achieve serious success with well-planned and executed content. 


#3 WhatsApp


The third member of the 2 billion group is the messaging service WhatsApp, which has been a member of the Meta (Facebook) group since 2014. It is a stable and widely used social media platform, but it is mainly popular in Eastern Europe and Asia due to initial difficulties (lack of Android version, paid service). So in other parts of the world, it is less widespread and has many more challengers.

Regardless, from a business point of view, WhatsApp is a very useful communication tool, especially since business users launched WhatsApp Business. This provides many tools that are not available to the average user, only for business users.


#4 Instagram


Instagram is a new member of the Meta (Facebook) group. Instagram was launched in 2010 as an image-sharing service. Today the focus is mainly on visual content, but over time, so many functions have been crammed into it that it has become more of an alternative to Facebook, which is mainly used by the younger generation.

In addition to sharing pictures and videos, you can also use Instagram to create stories, live videos, short Reel videos, use filters or even sell content that can be purchased. Instagram is strongly connected with the development of the influencer culture, which in the meantime has grown into a separate marketing industry. In addition to organic means, you can also reach Instagram’s user base with Facebook’s ad manager.


#5 Facebook Messenger


The fourth member of the Meta family is Facebook Messenger. Facebook started to separate the Facebook and Messenger platforms with a very good sense, so today Messenger alone has a billion user base.

What this interface can offer is quite unique. Of course, as a basic function, you can contact other people, chat with your friends and relatives, and message your customers, but the possibilities go far beyond this. You can build chatbots that can automatically carry out complete conversations. This is especially true when you run a business and you don’t have the possibility to respond to every message in time or hire a customer service team. 


#6 WeChat


Unless you are from China or have been to China recently, chances are you have never heard about WeChat. And with this social media platform, we have arrived at our first social network site, WeChat, which is mainly used in Chinese-speaking areas, while is completely unknown in different parts of the world. WeChat is a bit like a world of its own, an app that you can cram everything into? Everything from simple messaging to food ordering and money transfer options is available here.

It is wildly popular in China, according to some surveys, more than 98% of the population have installed the application on their phones. WeChat was first released in 2011 and it quickly became the world’s largest standalone mobile app in 2018 with over 1 billion monthly active users. In other countries, it is less widespread, mainly due to competition and data protection scandals.


#7 TikTok


It is one of the fastest-growing social media apps, which reached one billion users in an extremely short time. A real success story among Chinese applications, as it is one of the very few platforms that also compete internationally.

The platform operating with short video content was given a big boost by the acquisition of and built around the covid-19 pandemic and an amazing user base. Among the members of the list, the average age here is the lowest, but with the increase in popularity of TikTok, the older age group is slowly starting to catch on, as well.


#8 Douyin


Douyin was released in September 2016. To put it simply, Douyin is the Chinese version of TikTok. The applications are owned by the same company, the basic functionality is also the same, but we are talking about two separate social sites, which were created for two very different user groups.

In China, they are already one step ahead of Western marketers, and Douyin is already used by the biggest luxury brands to sell their products, and, like YouTube, a monetization system supporting creators has also been introduced.


#9 QQ


There is also a conglomerate similar to Meta in China, this company is called Tencent. Tencent operates the previously mentioned WeChat in addition to another popular social media platform, QQ.

QQ has been operating since the 90s. It started as a business communication platform, but over time it has gained so many useful functions that it has also gained great popularity in the public sector and is still the primary messaging application for many people in the Chinese-speaking world.


#10 Sina Weibo


Sina Weibo was launched by Sina Corporation on 14 August 2009. It is another Chinese app that started its career as a microblogging interface, one could perhaps compare it to Twitter. It operates as the primary information-sharing social site for Chinese journalists and celebrities. Using it, you can share much longer content with text and multimedia elements than Twitter posts.


#11 Telegram


Telegram is very similar to Messenger, but it’s a chat app independent of Facebook. Its popularity is mostly due to the fact that it offers a safer, more private alternative to those who do not want Facebook to access their data but want to use the possibilities provided by Messenger. Telegram was first launched on 14 August 2013 with the goal to provide end-to-end encrypted chats, almost known as secret chats. Also, it provided safe video calling, file sharing, VoIP, and several other features. 

#12 Snapchat


Snapchat was released in 2011 and created a unique feature by making shared content available temporarily, i.e. what you upload to the Snapchat interface is only available for a certain period of time and is automatically deleted. It quickly became a favorite of the younger generation and today a lot of functions have been crammed into the social site, among other things, Instagram took over the story function from here, but perhaps the largest set of AR-based filters and tools is available here.


#13 Kuaishou


Right after Douyin, China’s second most popular video social platform is Kuaishou. Kuaishou was released in March 2011. The fundamental difference is that this application is mainly dominated by live broadcasts. Furthermore, the center does not contain content recommended by the algorithm, but videos of creators that the user follows in some way.


#14 Pinterest


Another app, from 2010, Pinterest is based on an interesting concept. This app allows users to collect content (mainly images) from the Internet, which they can display in their own collection. It’s a bit like a virtual corkboard on which you can collect your favorite pictures and organize them. The interface itself, both visually and in terms of functions, is very well thought out. Pinterest is a perfect place to collect inspiration, no matter the task or the event.


#15 Twitter


Twitter, which was released in 2006 is one of the oldest microblogging platforms. It hasn’t really taken off in Europe, its user base is mainly made up of people living in American and English-speaking countries. They are experimenting quite a lot with the possibility of sharing different contents, now for example with voice-based chat rooms, but the sharing of basic, 280-character texts is still dominant.


#16 Reddit


This social site advertises itself as the homepage of the Internet, which is quite correct. Here you can find the widest range of forums focusing on the most diverse topics. It is very easy to find people with similar interests to you and can be targeted with advertisements just as well. 


#17 Quora


Quora is the page for frequently asked questions in English. Its operation is as simple as a wooden wedge, and perhaps it owes its popularity to this. You can ask questions on the site, which almost anyone can answer, but the answers can be scored and thanks to the large user base, you can quickly get an accurate answer to your question.


Final Thoughts


In conclusion, the world of social media is a dynamic and ever-evolving landscape that has transformed the way we connect, communicate, and consume information. During the past few years, especially starting from 2010 several social media networks have been developed and became popular worldwide. Facebook, with its massive user base and diverse features, continues to dominate the social media realm. Instagram’s visual appeal and engagement-driven interface have made it a go-to platform for sharing and discovering content, and not only that: it also created a whole new market of influencers. YouTube’s vast video library has made it the go-to platform for entertainment and education and now thousands of Youtubers make a living of creating video content. Each platform has its own unique features, strengths, and audience, but one thing is sure, they are part of our life and shape the way we live and connect in this digital age.