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Today marks the release of our brand new GWI Social report, drawing on our Q3 wave of research among more than 40,000 adult internet users to highlight the most important headlines and trends in the world of social networking (you can download a free summaryhere).

So, which networks have been growing at the fastest rates over the last six months? Which apps are flying, and which audiences are the most enthusiastic users? What impact did the World Cup have on social networking behaviors? And which devices have been seeing increased levels of engagement? The report answers all of these questions and more, with key findings including:

  • Facebook is still number one, but has some major challenges to face – with 50% of members in the UK and US saying that they’re using it less frequently than they used to (rising to 64% among the key teen demographic). Facebook is also the only network which has seen a drop in active usage among 16-24s during 2014; although it’s a very small one (-0.5%), it needs to be viewed in the context of all other networks posting substantial increases among this audience.


  • Multi-networking is flourishing; China excluded, a significant 91% of 16-64s visited YouTube or Facebook or Twitter or Google+ last month. Moreover, some 19% visited all four.


  • Tumblr and Pinterest are the fastest growing social platforms in 2014, with their active user numbers having increased by 120% and 111% respectively. Instagram is the third fastest riser, up by 64% since Q1 2014. However, all social networks saw an increase in active usage during Q2 and Q3 2014 as the World Cup became a major talking (and sharing) point within the online space.


  • Snapchat is the fastest growing app (up 56% since the start of 2014), followed by Facebook Messenger (+52%) and Instagram (+47%). Overall, though, Facebook is still by far the top social app (being used by 43% of internet users globally). Facebook also dominates in terms of chat/messaging apps, with Messenger (27%) having re-taken the lead from WhatsApp (25%) following Facebook’s decision to strip the messaging functionality out of its main app.


  • Mobiles and tablets are seeing big rises for social networking, whereas the audience engaging via PCs/laptops is contracting. It’s now about 6 in 10 who use social networks via a PC/laptop compared to more than 4 in 10 logging on via mobiles.


  • Some 44% of VPN users say they have visited Facebook in the last month, but this trend is most significant of all in China – where over 90 million online adults say they have used a VPN in order access restricted social networks. This is one of the major reasons behind sites like Facebook and Twitter having substantial audiences in China (with about a third in the country having accounts on the two services).

The full version of the report – which explores all of these issues in more detail, as well as a range of country and regional trends – can be downloaded from our Insight Store, here.


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