21 Most Popular Social Media Platforms in 2021

·18 min read

In this article we will take a look at the 21 most popular social media platforms in 2021. You can skip our detailed analysis of the social media industry’s outlook for 2021 and some of the major growth catalysts for social media stocks and go directly to the 5 Most Popular Social Media Platforms in 2021.

There is no doubt that this is the age of social media. The social media industry has been gaining popularity and is becoming a more lucrative industry since the past few years. With more people across the globe getting access to the Internet, the rate at which social media platforms have grown is exponential. In 2020, the global social penetration rate reached 49 percent, with East Asia and North America having the highest penetration rate at 71 and 69 percent, respectively, followed by Northern Europe at 67 percent, as reported by Statista. The power of this industry is such that the total number of people who use social media is projected to reach around 3.43 billion by 2023.

According to a report by the Business Research Company, the global social media market is worth $94.83 billion, as of 2020. This number is set to reach around $308.96 billion in 2025, growing at a CAGR of 32% in the period. This growth is attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic as nationwide lockdowns, work from home policies, and social distancing has forced most people towards a more virtual networking style, causing the most popular social media platforms to grow at a faster pace. From video calls to online meetings, social media has played a significant role during the pandemic in terms of connecting people to their loved ones as well as disseminating important news and information to a wide audience. According to the PEW Research Center, around 72% of people in the US used some type of social media and the industry’s revenue reached $36.14 billion. This revenue is expected to reach $50.86 billion by the end of 2021.

Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB)'s Popularity

Leading social networks usually boast a high number of user accounts or strong user engagement metrics. For example, Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is the first social network having surpassed the 1 billion monthly active user mark and as of the first quarter of 2020, has 2.6 billion monthly active users worldwide. Whether it’s the news, or our personal lives, Facebook has made information sharing much easier than ever. The popularity of Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has even changed how businesses are now conducted. Today, three million businesses actively advertise on Facebook and use it as their primary source of communication with their customers. In terms of user count, Facebook is definitely ranks higher in the list of most popular social media platforms in 2021.

How Much Time People are Spending on Social Media?

Other popular social media platforms that have been making the round include the photo and video sharing platform Instagram which has over 1 million active users and most recently reported that over 500 million daily active users for its Stories feature. Messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) Messenger, and WeChat have also gained significant attention. On average, internet users spend around 144 minutes per day on social media platforms. The daily time spent with social media in the U.S. was just two hours and three minutes as reported by Statista.

Other leading social apps and networks include photo- and video-sharing platform Instagram, which has over 1 billion monthly active users and most recently reported 500 million daily active users for its Stories feature. Messaging apps including WhatsApp, Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) Messenger, and WeChat are also popular social channels for online users. By 2021, many new platforms like TikTok are set to join the 1 billion user club. On average, global internet users spend some 144 minutes per day surfing social networks. This prompts worldwide brands and their marketers to use that time and screen space to promote various products and services via social media marketing or social advertising.

The most popular social media platforms of 2021 also provide another great benefit. It has now started creating jobs for people with different educational backgrounds and skill sets. It is common to hear that a company is hiring a “social media manager” for marketing purposes. Other jobs related to the industry include software engineers, web designers, computer programmers, writers, and marketing professionals. There is also a growing trend of social media “influencers” where notable people who have enough media visibility are hired by brands to promote their products. Going forward, more and more marketers will use this strategy and work with multiple smaller influencers instead of one celebrity. Social media workers often receive high salaries and good benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the mean salary for workers in all social media related careers was $53,490 in 2019.

most popular social media platforms in 2021
most popular social media platforms in 2021

Photo by Olivier Bergeron on Unsplash

As social platforms gained 1.3 million users every day in 2020, new trends in the industry have also emerged. According to a Cisco study, 82% of online content is making the shift towards video content. There is also a rise in the adoption of new technologies such as augmented and virtual reality. They provide a more engaging social media experience. For example, Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has introduced their social virtual reality world called Horizon where people can interact, play games, and explore. Global brands are leveraging their user-generated content on social media platforms such as Pinterest, Inc. (NYSE: PINS) and Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) to reach a wider audience. This trend is expected to grow even stronger in the coming years.

The Rise of YouTube

Alphabet Inc Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL)’s YouTube has grown to insane popularity over the last few years, thanks to people’s inclination towards video content instead of text. According to Google’s own statistics, 68% of YouTube users use the platform to watch videos in order to make a purchase decision. Recently, Bernstein said that Alphabet Inc Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL)’s YouTube is one of the best platforms poised to benefit from the rebounding digital ads spending in 2021. The firm said that the platform grew its ads revenue by 46% year-over-year in the fourth quarter. The firm likes YouTube Select and shoppable advertising products Alphabet Inc Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is offering for videos ads.

The social media revolution has led to the emergence of a number of popular online platforms that have reshaped the way people communicate. These platforms are not limited by any boundaries and have encompassed the entire world.

With this context and industry outlook in mind, let’s start our list of the 21 most popular social media platforms in 2021.

21. HouseParty, Owned by Epic Games

Monthly Active Users: 2 million via expandedramblings

Another popular social media platform to look out for in 2021 is Houseparty which is a group-video messaging app that allows users to video chat with 8 people at a time. It also has additional features like video filters, stickers, fun effects, and games, while a live conversation is in session. Houseparty was developed by San-Francisco- based Life on Air in 2016. Houseparty gained a lot of popularity by 2017 when its user-base grew to 20 million people worldwide. In June 2019, the app was bought by Epic Games for an undisclosed amount. According to App Annie stats quoted in the Financial Times, the app was downloaded 2 million times in the week commencing 16 March 2020. HouseParty ranks 21st in the list of most popular social media platforms in 2021.

20. Flickr, Owned by SmugMug Inc.

Monthly Active users: 60 million via expandedramblings

Flickr is a popular social media platform devoted to sharing photos and videos. The site was purchased by Yahoo in 2005 and is now owned by SmugMug. The platform is especially popular amongst photographers or businesses that want to share their pictures and videos around the internet. It also provides royalty-free images that can be used in content. Photos and videos can be accessed from Flickr without the need to register an account, but an account must be made to upload content to the site. For mobile users, Flickr has official mobile apps for iOS and Android, and has an optimized mobile website as well. Although Flickr has lost some of its industry’s clout in the recent years, it still has about 90 million monthly active users which have earned it a spot on this list. The image-based platform ranks 20th in the list of most popular social media platforms in 2021.

19. Discord, Formerly Hammer & Chisel Inc.

Monthly Active Users: 100 million in 2020 via Business Insider

Discord is a VoIP, instant messaging, and digital distribution that is specifically designed for creating communities. It allows users to communicate through audio calls, video calls, text messaging, media, and file sharing in private chats or as part of communities which are called “servers”. Servers are a collection of chat rooms and voice chat channels. As of December 2020, the service has over 140 million monthly active users. Discord is mostly used by gamers. However, around 6.7 million servers on the platform are related to non-gaming-related topics. Discord has tried to widen its coverage to compete with Slack Technologies Inc (NYSE: WORK) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) Teams. TechCrunch has reported that the market valuation of the platform is about $7 billion. Discord ranks 19th in the list of most popular social media platforms in 2021.

18. Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP)

Monthly Active Users: 238 million in 2020 via BusinessofApps

Snapchat was launched in 2011 by Stanford students Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown. It is an image and video messaging app which allows users to capture and send “snaps” which can only be viewed for a duration of 1 to 10 seconds after which they get deleted automatically. Snapchat has also been a pioneer in bringing augmented reality to social media through its filters. In the 2nd quarter of 2020, the number of daily active users reported by Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) reached 238 million. The US remains the largest Snapchat market with over 103 million users. On average, Snapchat users spend about 30 minutes on the app every day. In their 2020 earnings report, Snapchat announced that 4 billion snaps are sent across its platform every day. The market valuation of Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) has reached $93.41 billion as of 2020. Snapchat stands at the 18th spot in the list of most popular social media platforms in 2021.

17. Douban, Originally Named Beijing Douwang Technology Co., Ltd.

Monthly Active Users: 300 million via Expanded Ramblings

Douban is the most popular review-based social media platform in China. Douban users access the platform to enroll in higher training courses or get access to higher educational content. The focus of the platform is books, movies, and music as the platform is more culture oriented. This popular social media platform is built on people creating groups, fan pages, and discussion threads to review content which sparks discussions and debates. There are almost 40,000 authors on Doubon’s reading platform alone. The site serves pan-Chinese users, and its contents are in Chinese. It covers works and media in Chinese and in foreign languages. Some Chinese authors and critics register their official personal pages on the site.

16. Tumblr, Owned by Yahoo! Inc.

Monthly Active Users: 327 million in 2020 via Statista

Tumblr is a microblogging and social networking platform founded in 2007 by David Karp. It is currently owned by the company Automattic. The platform allows users to post multimedia and other content in the form of a short blog. Users can follow different blogs and can also make their own private blogs. Tumblr reported that as of February 2021, there are over 518.7 million blogs on the website. The company’s immediate success and popularity led to its acquisition in 2013 by Yahoo for a total of $1.1 billion. By July 2019, Tumblr had surpassed 472 million registered accounts and there 327 million unique visitors to the website by January 2021. Due to its fast-paced communication style, multiple mediums and heavy use of sometimes specific imagery, pop-culture references and slang, Tumbler is unsurprisingly most popular among young millennials.

15. Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR)

Monthly Active Users: 353 million

One of the most recognizable names in the tech and media landscapes is Twitter which is a real-time microblogging platform that was launched in 2006. Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) is a popular social media platform whose main feature is defining tight limits on the length of each post which is called a tweet. Users can “tweet” a message including up to 280 characters. The market cap of the platform reached a new high of $40 billion by October 2020. Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) was also rated the 4th most visited website in 2020 by SimilarWeb as people flocked to the platform for news. According to Yahoo Finance, Twitter generated a revenue of $3.7 billion in 2020. Over 500 million tweets are made every day with 350 million monthly active users.

14. Telegram (Private Company)

Monthly Active Users: 400 million in 2020 via Statista

Telegram was launched in 2013 and has emerged as one of the most popular social media messaging sites in the world. What differentiates it from its competitors is its privacy policy. The platform encrypts all messages, chats, calls, groups, and media which means that if any communication is intercepted, it will need to be deciphered before it can be understood. Telegram accounts are tied to phone numbers which must be verified by SMS. Their default messages are cloud-based, and its servers are encrypted with the service’s MTProto protocol. Due to the controversy regarding the privacy policy of Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB)'s WhatsApp, Telegram benefited immensely as its monthly active users increased from 300 million in 2019 to 400 million in 2020. Telegram ranks 14th in the list of most popular social media platforms in 2021.

13. Reddit, Owned by Advanced Publications

Monthly Active Users: 430 million in 2020 via WSJ

Reddit is a centralized community platform that is categorized around different interests of its users. It was founded in 2005 and has since raised a total funding of $800.1 million. As of 2020, the popular social media platform has reached over 430 million monthly active users and is worth $6 billion. Most of Reddit’s users are based in the US, followed by Australia, India, Philippines, and Brazil. It was ranked as the 7th most popular social networking app in the US in 2020, according to the number of downloads. On the platform, registered members can submit content such as text posts, videos, images, or links which are then voted up or down by other members. Posts are organized by subject into user-created boards called "communities" or "subreddits", which cover a variety of topics such as news, politics, science, movies, video games, music, books, sports, fitness, cooking, pets, and image-sharing. As of February 2021, Reddit ranks as the 18th-most-visited website in the world according to Alexa Internet.

12. Pinterest, Inc. (NYSE: PINS)

Monthly Active Users: 459 million in 2020

Pinterest, Inc. is a visual discovery engine which allows users to find inspiration for their lives by finding recipes, style and home inspiration, DIY methods and art projects. It shows people visual recommendations based around their personal preferences and interests. The platform was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. Around 2 billion searches are performed on Pinterest, Inc. (NYSE: PINS) every month. In 2020, the platform generated an advertising revenue of $443 million. Statista reports that in the fourth quarter of 2020, Pinterest had 459 million monthly active users which makes it one of the most popular social media platforms in 2021.

11. Sina Weibo, Owned by Sina Corporation

Monthly Active Users: 521 million in 2020

Sina Weibo is often referred to as China’s Twitter, however, it has over 807 million users which is more than double the number of users Twitter has. Like Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR), Sina Weibo limits all posts to 140 characters, verifies notable accounts, and allows its users to upload photos and videos. The platform was initially launched in China but has spread around the world in more than 80 countries. As of the last quarter of 2020, Sina Weibo's monthly active users amounted to around 521 million, 10 million more compared to the corresponding quarter in the previous year. Sina Weibo is the top source for getting news in real-time, getting useful knowledge and help, and following interesting content. According to China Internet Watch net revenues of the app were $513.4 million, an increase of 10% year-over-year or an increase of 3% year-over-year on a constant currency basis. For the first quarter of 2021, Weibo estimates its net revenues to increase by 25% to 30% year-over-year on a constant currency basis. Qzone ranks 11th in the list of best social media platforms in 2021.

10. Qzone, Owned by Tencent Holdings Limited (OTC: TCEHY)

Monthly Active Users: 553.5 million via Wikipedia

Another China-based social media platform that has become widely popular is Qzone which allows its users to upload multimedia, write their own blogs, play online games, and decorate their own virtual spaces. The platform was created by Tencent in 2005. It has transformed from a personal space for users to one of the biggest social network open platform in China where its user base grew to more than 600 million. The revenue and profit of Qzone mainly comes from its VIP service - "Canary Yellow Diamond” which a monthly payment and provides users with additional services. Apart from advertising, Qzone also makes money by selling virtual coins called Q coins which can be used in different games within the platform. Qzone ranks 10th in the list of best social media platforms in 2021.

9. QQ, Owned by Tencent Holdings Limited (OTC: TCEHY)

Monthly Active Users: 595 million via Statista

QQ was launched in 1999 and is currently owned by Tencent. As of 2020, the platform has managed to attract 595 million monthly active users. Initially, QQ was only a simple instant messenger, and its user IDs were based on numbers, not alphabets. Another convenient feature of QQ is the integration function, where customers can integrate other services and platforms such as social networks, emails, and other entertainment websites under one user ID. With these features, QQ became the best instant messenger in China, beating ICQ and MSN messenger. QQ ranks 9th in the list of most popular social media platforms in 2021.

8. TikTok, Owned by ByteDance

Monthly Active Users: 689 million in 2020 via BusinessofApps

TikTok is definitely one of the most popular social media platforms in 2021. It is a video-sharing social media app owned by Beijing-based tech company ByteDance. It was launched in 2016 and was made global in the next year. TikTok allows users to create a video of 15 seconds with a soundtrack added to them. The social media platform blew up and became the most downloaded non-gaming app of 2019. By 2020, the platform was able to generate a revenue of $1 billion and had a market valuation of $50 billion as reported by Reuters. There are over a 100 million TikTok users in the world located all over China, Europe, India, Brazil etc. According to Statista, US TikTok users average 858 minutes per month on the app. TikTok surged ahead of all other apps in 2020, with global downloads of 850 million.

7. LinkedIn, Owned by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT)

Monthly Active Users: 772 million in 2020 via LinkedIn

LinkedIn ranks 7th in the list of most popular social media platforms in 2021. It is the most popular social networking platform for professionals. It allows users to create an online resume, listing their current and previous professional experiences, their skills, and their education. Members can network with other users and can even look for companies and job opportunities. In fact, LinkedIn has become the primary source for job hunters in the US and around the world. In June 2016, LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) for $26.2 billion. LinkedIn revenue is consolidated with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT)'s overall revenue. Microsoft reported that the platform grew by 16% in 2020. The company has reported over 772 million users spread across 200 countries as of 2020. According to estimates, the revenue of the platform is close to $1.86 billion.

6. WeChat, Owned by Tencent Holdings Limited (OTC: TCEHY)

Monthly Active Users: 1.2 billion in 2020

WeChat is the Chinese equivalent of WhatsApp. It was launched in 2011 and was originally a simple messaging app. Developed and owned by Tencent Holdings, the platform has become widely popular in China with over a 100 million registered users as of 2019. WeChat also surpassed the dominant platform Weibo, and today has almost a billion monthly active users which are increasing every day. It has become the 5th most popular social media app in the world. About 410 million audio and video calls are made per day on the app. WeChat has now increased its functionality by integrating several facets of virtual and physical life and there is great opportunity for the platform to capture a greater market size in the coming years. In the last quarter of 2020, WeChat had over 1.2 billion monthly active users.

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Disclosure: None. 21 Most Popular Social Media Platforms in 2021 is originally published on Insider Monkey.