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Understanding Social Media Users, Members and Visitors

When it comes to social media, part of making your marketing work is understanding which sites are the most popular, which are growing and which are shrinking. But all may not be as it appears, because social media members aren’t necessary regular users, as a GlobalWebIndex study points out.

GlobalWebIndex studied how more than 41,000 adult Internet users use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. Here’s what they found:

Facebook has the most members; 81 percent of respondents have a Facebook account. In addition, 42 percent are active Facebook users—the highest percentage of the four social networks.

While 60 percent of respondents are YouTube members, only 24 percent of respondents are active YouTube users. However, 73 percent overall visit YouTube, whether or not they have an account. (“Visit” was defined as going to the site, but not necessarily having an account or logging into one’s account.)

Sixty percent of respondents also have Google+ accounts, but usage is much lower. Only 29 percent of respondents visit Google+ and only 21 percent are active users.

While just 53 percent of respondents have Twitter accounts, only 22 percent are active users. Thirty-six percent visit Twitter, whether or not they have accounts.

What do these results mean to you?

  • Remember that non-members or non-active users can still be valuable viewers of your social media content. You can use links in articles, blog posts or other content to drive non-members or non-active users to these social media channels—particularly in the case of YouTube. Once there, make sure you encourage them to like or follow your business.
  • Facebook is transitioning. While Facebook remains the most popular social network, it’s also the only social media channel whose number of active users dropped (by 9 percent). “Facebook is being used more passively as it transitions into a hub that underlies our social behaviors rather than hosts them directly,” the report says. With 40 percent of Facebook users reporting that they “have browsed their news feed for updates without posting/commenting on anything” in the last month, perhaps Facebook will become more of a news source than a form of expression.
  • Social media users aren’t loyal to one network. The average survey respondent is a member of about six social networks and active on about three of them. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: Your customers are likely on more than one social network, so your business should be, too.

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Author information

Karen Axelton

Karen Axelton is Chief Content Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at