How People Use Social Networks Around The World

It’s easy to forget what the world looks like from outside your own country, and it can often look quite different. At bitly, we’re reminded of this every day: we see traffic from over 220 countries, with the US accounting for roughly a third of the total. In this country, most of the social sharing happens on facebook and twitter, but what about in the rest of the world?

We answered this question the only way we know how: with data! First, we picked the 16 most popular social networks from around the world. We sampled our data twice per month in 2012, then counted up how many clicks came from each country and social network. Adding all this up gave us a bitly-wide breakdown of the social network traffic we see. Finally, for each country, we scored each social network by the proportion of traffic it represented compared to the proportion bitly-wide. For example, if 10% of country A’s traffic came from a given social network compared to 1% for bitly as a whole, it got a score of 1. If it was only 0.1% vs. 1% for bitly, then it got a score of -1. So positive scores mean that network is more popular in that country than average, and negative means less so.

We chose this scoring since it kept the giants in the room from swamping out signals from the smaller social networks. Given that, we expected to see smaller, foreign networks to be popular in their home countries. Indeed, we see Odnoklassniki and VK are very popular in Russian-speaking Russia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Belarus; Mixi and Ameba are popular in Japan; and Douban, QQ, Renren, and Weibo are popular in China.

On the other hand, there were some surprises. For example, Hong Kong and Taiwan showed very little usage of some Chinese social networks. Not all former Soviet states or Russian-speaking countries showed strong usage of the Russian ones. Tumblr is surprisingly popular in South Korea. Mongolians love Youtube. LinkedIn and Google+ are impressively popular in Iran.

We encourage you to explore the data in our interactive visualization.

We’re all separated by only a few degrees, and the internet makes those degrees super easy to traverse. But when the degrees span nations, it’s hard to remember to try. We’re offering this little reminder. We hope you’ll enjoy exploring the world’s social network use with us.