Social media platforms are constantly engaged in a game of musical chairs when it comes to popularity and active user bases. Some platforms are just interesting and fun to the general public, whilst others are extremely useful to savvy digital marketing professionals.

Choosing the right social media platform for your brand or your personal profile is critical to your marketing strategy and must never be based on a random “hunch”.

Let’s take a look at the six most popular social media platforms of 2022 (by active users):

Facebook (now “Meta”) – 2.74 billion active users

The title of undisputed king of social media platforms still rests with Facebook. Facebook changed the way people communicate with each other. Despite being embroiled in controversies from time-to-time, the social media behemoth has continued to grow its user base at a staggering pace. 

Facebook took only ten months to reach a million subscribers and just about eight years to hit the billion mark. It boasted a staggering 2.74 billion active users as of February 2021. Facebook is a hugely popular social media platform for users aged between 12-34 years old, but has seen a decline in popularity due to the emergence of Instagram.

YouTube – 2.29 billion active users

The video-sharing platform YouTube comes in as the second most popular social media platform with 2.29 billion registered users. This figure however may not do justice to YouTube’s actual popularity since users can enjoy videos on the platform without registering. YouTube is popular both with kids and adults alike. About 74% of the American adult population uses YouTube. 

WhatsApp – 2 billion active users

The world’s most popular messaging app was not originally intended to be a messaging app at all. It’s founders wanted to create an app that showed statuses next to each contact in your address book. WhatsApp’s accidental evolution into the world’s most popular free IM app made it’s founders a whopping $16 billion, after Facebook successfully acquired it in 2014. 

The messaging app offers immense marketing value to businesses who use it as a communication tool. Yet, since WhatsApp has stayed away from traditional advertising methods, it’s range of marketing offerings is limited compared to the likes of Facebook and Instagram. 

Facebook Messenger – 1.3 billion active users

Another feather in Facebook’s cap has to be that a service within it’s main offering makes the #4 spot on this list. That’s quite a feat! In 2008, Facebook Chat was a simple IM feature within the app. Executives at Facebook later saw the potential of chat as a standalone app and Facebook Messenger was born.

According to Facebook’s repost, over 40 million businesses use Messenger to chat with potential customers each month. The most popular Messenger user age bracket is 25-34 year olds (27%) in the United States.  

Instagram – 1.22 billion active users

The app that made photo-sharing cool comes in at #5 with a whopping 1.22 billion active users. When Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, its user base was 35 million. It hit the magical 500 million user mark in 2016 and has not stopped its growth trajectory since. 

The concept of “influencers” is one of Instagram’s most enduring contributions to the world of digital marketing. Instagram empowered regular people and gave them the ability to monetize their feed, something that no social media channel had managed to do before. Instagram boasts of higher engagement rates and is thus the preferred advertising platform for B2C-focused businesses.

WeChat – 1.21 billion active users

WeChat offers a wide range of communication and entertainment options including sending messages, participating in video chats, processing online payments as well as playing video games. Despite WeChat’s unfortunate leak of private data to the Chinese Government, the app has continued to grow in popularity and user base.