7% of the World’s Population is on Facebook

by Roy Wells on August 15, 2010


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Last week I posted “41.6% of the US Population Has a Facebook Account,” which looked at the participation rates of Americans on Facebook by age groups. The article pointed out that 41% of those accounts are registered to individuals aged 35 and older, making the case that this could be an important communications channel for reaching that audience. This article generated a considerable number of conversations on Twitter and Facebook with people asking questions about how the US compared to other countries.  In an effort to contribute to the conversation, I thought I would take another look at the data and attempt to answer some of those questions.

Using the data supplied by www.checkfacebook.com, the Facebook population estimator, and the CIA World Factbook, some very interesting statistics emerge.  With the world population estimated to be at 6.8 billion, and with Facebook reporting around 500 million accounts, the world’s population logging into Facebook calculates out to be about 7%.

This number is not surprising when you look at China and India, the two most populous nations on the planet.  They account for 2.5 billion or 37% of the earth’s inhabitants, but collectively have 11,580,000 accounts, just over 2% of all Facebook accounts (Facebook is blocked in China but just over 45,000 accounts are registered there).

Top Ten Countries by Population and the Number of Facebook Accounts

1. China 45,420
2. India 11,534,480
3. United States 131,567,700
4. Indonesia 26,277,000
5. Brazil 5,849,660
6. Pakistan 2,373,620
7. Bangladesh 967,480
8. Nigeria 1,671,700
9. Russia 1,481,140
10. Japan 1,332,840

These 10 countries account for a total of 183 million Facebook users. If you exclude the United States and it 131 million accounts, then just 14 out of every thousand residents of the remaining nine countries have Facebook accounts.

Overall, 67% of these accounts are registered to individuals who are younger than 35 years old.  Again, if you exclude the United States, then the 35 and under crowd grows to 86%. Worldwide, this age cohort accounts for 71% of Facebook users.

Obviously, total population is not a determinant of the degree to which a population will embrace the medium, since wealth, education, and broadband access would play a more important role.   Though these countries provide a useful benchmark of international usage, those countries with the largest number of accounts should provide some useful data to understand the global Facebook environment.

Top Ten Countries by Number of Facebook Accounts

1. United States 131,567,700
2. United Kingdom 27,479,020
3. Indonesia 26,792,780
4. Turkey 23,199,180
5. France 19,416,060
6. Italy 16,845,440
7. Philippines 15,935,880
8. Canada 15,910,860
9. Mexico 14,535,020
10. India 11,534,480

Overall, 13% of the population of these countries have Facebook accounts, with 69% of those accounts owned by individuals under the age of 35.  If you remove India from the above counts, 27% of the population of the remaining nine countries have a Facebook account, but the dominant age cohort drops by only one percentage point to 68%.

Percent of Facebook Accounts Under 35 Years of Age

1. United States 59%
2. United Kingdom 65%
3. Indonesia 91%
4. Turkey 83%
5. France 72%
6. Italy 68%
7. Philippines 86%
8. Canada 62%
9. Mexico 68%
10. India 87%

“Developed” countries appear to have a greater percentage of those older than 35 using Facebook, while “developing” countries are dominated by younger users.  Countries with higher birth rates, like Turkey, Indonesia, India and the Philippines would correlate well with countries where the under 35 age cohort dominates Facebook.

Percent of Facebook Accounts by Total Population

1. United States 42%
2. United Kingdom 44%
3. Indonesia 11%
4. Turkey 30%
5. France 30%
6. Italy 29%
7. Philippines 16%
8. Canada 47%
9. Mexico 12%
10. India 1%

It is clear that Facebook usage in the United States, both as a percent of the population, and by age cohort, is not the norm when compared with most countries.  Other than Iceland, which boasts a slightly higher number of users older than 35, every other country in the world has a younger population engaged on Facebook, with Vietnam having the highest number under 35 at 94%.

As I have stated in previous posts, the audience you are trying to reach governs the communication channels that you employ.  If you are a business with a product that has international appeal, and that product is targeted to a consumer under the age of 35, you may want to immerse yourself in this data, or find someone who can sort it out for you.  With the world getting flatter every day, markets you may never thought of entering are now just a key stroke away.

Based on the above statistics, the upside of Facebook specifically, and social media in general is tremendous.  In the short-term, there is still significant growth potential in the developed countries, while over the long-term the developing countries should experience a boom as broadband access becomes available.

Whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a small niche business, Facebook is a communications channel that should be evaluated as you develop your strategic communications plan.

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