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26% of World’s Population Active on Mobile Social Media – What That Means for Business

BBM / 01.11.16 / Matthew Talbot

Happy Indonesian man portrait with sunglasses and phone, looking away. He is holding his mobile phone and smiling as if he just read good news. This attractive, healthy sportive man was photographed in Lovina, North Bali, Indonesia.

1.9 billion: that’s the number of active mobile social media users around the world. With the global population at 7.35 billion, that’s a 26% penetration rate. These numbers are from the Global Digital Statshot August 2015.

Active mobile social users still aren’t as numerous as unique mobile users (3.7 billion; 51% of the world), active Internet users (3.2 billion; 43% of the world), or active social media users (2.2 billion; 30% of the world), but they’re getting there – fast.

One million new mobile accounts every day

The report goes on to show year-on-year growth in all these segments from the past 12 months, and active mobile social users are the only group with double-digit growth. From 2014 to 2015, their number grew by a whopping 23%! That translates to an increase of 365 million users – or an average of 1 million new accounts on mobile social networks every day.

This eMarketer article from late last year tells a similar story. The authors forecast that the number of people using mobile messaging would be 1.4 billion people worldwide by the end of 2015, and 2 billion by the end of 2018.

Let’s put those numbers in perspective. 1.4 billion is 19% of the world’s population, and 75% of all smartphone users. That’s how many people are using mobile messaging today. In three years, we’ll be at 2 billion, or about 27% of the world’s population and 80% of smartphone users.

What Internet?

Consider these massive adoption numbers together with some of the recent articles about how people around the world don’t understand that they’re on the Internet when they’re using social media on their phones.

Combining the numbers with this insight, it’s clear that the next billion people who start using the Internet (whether they realize it or not) will be using their phones to do it and flocking to messaging and social media apps in huge numbers. Many may not go to or any other start page. Many may never use a browser. In a way, the Internet may be on its way to becoming invisible – not a destination so much as a utility. And all the traffic is moving to mobile social media.

How do we know? Social networking accounted for 28% of all media time online (according to a report from January 2015).

The mobile social ecosystem

We’re seeing some exciting developments that show us how communication and commerce are moving to the mobile social platform. Big brands are moving their ad budgets over because advertising is so much more targeted and efficient on mobile social media. Digital ad spend is already at 80% of television ad spend, and MDG Advertising predicts that digital advertising will overtake TV this year, becoming the biggest media category.

We’re also seeing shopping shifting to mobile channels. Entrepreneurs are engines of innovation, conducting business via their cellphones, messaging and social apps, paired with delivery services. And we’re seeing consumers’ enthusiastically embrace all the new possibilities in China, India, South Korea, the UK, the US, and elsewhere.

In fact, referencing China’s WeChat messaging app that people use to send money to friends, buy goods and book services, this recent Wall Street Journal article proclaimed that the future of mobile chatting is commerce.

At BlackBerry, we saw the writing on the wall years ago and started to build a thriving mobile social ecosystem in BBM. BBM Channels are the place where consumers and brands can connect. The BBM Shop has thousands of stickers and other digital goods on offer. And we’re adding payment options in Africa, Indonesia, Latin America and the Middle East (our largest markets) to make it easy to shop with just a few taps on your device.

We’re building BBM for the future. We look forward to seeing you there.

Matthew Talbot

About Matthew Talbot

I am the Senior Vice President - Emerging Solutions at BlackBerry. I have extensive International Management, Sales and Marketing background in Mobility and Cloud technologies, Financial Services, Telecommunications, and Content in both a “Start-Up” and Public company environment. This includes stints as a senior executive at SAP, Sybase, Mobile 365 and others.