15 Most Popular Social Media Networks and Sites [+160 data points]

Claire Brenner
Claire Brenner  |  July 18, 2018

In the United States, we’re no stranger to social media platforms.

In fact, 77 percent of the U.S. population has a social networking profile – a number that has grown from just a modest 10 percent in 2008.

You’re probably familiar with the usual suspects: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. But did you know that’s just scraping the surface of the social media world? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go through the 15 most popular social networking sites and apps in the United States.

If you’re a social media marketing professional, you’re well aware that selecting a social networking platform is all about understanding where your audience is. This guide will break down each platform by monthly users, audience demographic, Alexa rank, and much more. If you’re looking for the authoritative guide on all of the most popular social media platforms, you’ve found it! 

Top social media platforms by number of users

The interactive image below will give you a visual representation of each social network based on its user count. The five largest networks are clearly identifiable based on the size of each bubble.

Facebook takes the no. 1 spot (surprise, surprise), with more than 2.2 billion monthly active users. In second place comes YouTube, with a staggering 1.8 billion monthly active users. Next comes WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, with 1.5 billion and 1.3 billion monthly active users, respectively. And in fifth place, we have Instagram, with 1 billion monthly active users.

Shockingly, Twitter and Snapchat don’t break the top five, coming in at eighth and tenth, respectively. Kik pulls up the rear with 51 million monthly active users.

Take a moment to interact with this visual. Hover your mouse over the name of each social networking platform to see how many users it receives every month.

 

 

Social Media Sites

Below, we have a list of the 15 most popular social media platforms by monthly active users. We’ll highlight the year the company was founded, as well as its founders, CEO, and headquarters. Additionally, we’ve gathered the estimated organic traffic and both U.S. and Global Alexa Ranks for each platform’s website.

An Alexa Rank is a ranking based on a websites’ average daily unique visitors and the estimated number of page views over the past three months. Basically, the more traffic a website has, the lower its Alexa Rank is (with Google holding the coveted no. 1 spot). 

Facebook

What is Facebook?

Let’s start with a quick refresher. Facebook was founded in 2004 by current CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. He built the social networking platform out of his college dorm room as a platform exclusively for Harvard University students. However, it was such a hit Zuckerberg quickly offered access to other universities in Boston, then to other Ivy League schools, and by 2005, anybody with an .edu email address could register for a profile.

In 2006, Facebook opened up access to anybody over the age of 13. From there, its user growth has absolutely exploded. Take a look at the visual below to see how quickly the social media giant acquired users over the years. 

most popular social media Facebook user growth

While the social network has introduced dozens of new features over the years, it’s primary purpose remains the same. Users can connect with friends from all over the world, post status updates, upload images and videos, and much more. In the business world, Facebook marketing is a popular method brands use to reach and engage with their target audiences.

Year Founded 2004
Founders Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Hughes, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin
CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Headquarters Menlo park, California
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 2.8 billion
Alexa U.S. Rank 3
Alexa Global Rank:  3

 

Facebook location demographics

Facebook sees users from all over the world. In fact, the United States only makes up 12 percent of their total users. The visual below provides a look at the top 10 Facebook-using countries.

Most popular social media Facebook Location Demographics

YouTube

What is YouTube?

Youtube is a video-sharing social network founded in 2005 by three former PayPal employees. Just 20 short months after its inception, the site was bought by Google for $1.65 billion. Today, it operates as one of Google’s subsidiaries.

Youtube has two primary groups of users – those who upload videos and those who watch videos. However, many of the 1.8 billion monthly users fall into both categories. Users are able to upload, view, rate, share, and comment on videos or subscribe to an entire channel that they like. Those new to Youtube can leverage further readings on how to upload a video to Youtube.

The video content on Youtube includes video clips, music videos, short films, video blogging, educational videos, and more. Plenty of the content is uploaded by individual contributors; Although, in recent times, many major brands and even media corporations have found their way to the video-sharing site.

In 2018, Youtube unveiled its newest service, YouTube TV. The subscription-cable replacement offers live TV for customers to stream on their phones, tablets, and televisions without the typical subscription and contract.

Year Founded 2005
Founders Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, Jawed Karim
CEO Susan Wojcicki
Headquarters San Bruno, California
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 8.8 billion
Alexa U.S. Rank 2
Alexa Global Rank:  2

 

Fun Fact: Youtube is the world’s second largest search engine (behind Google), beating out Google competitors BING and DuckDuckGo, a search engine with an emphasis on privacy.

WhatsApp Messenger

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a free messenger app primarily intended for smartphones. The tool was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both former Yahoo! Employees. Users who sign up with a standard cell phone number are able to communicate with one another through text messages, voice calls, video calls, and by sending videos and images.

In February 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in its largest acquisition to date. However, the messaging app has been kept separate from Facebook's main social network and its Facebook Messenger app.

The app is especially popular internationally, with increasing relevance in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Germany, Brazil, and Mexico, where more than 50 percent of the population is active on the messenger app. Its popularity is credited to its lack of international calling and messaging fees, since the service uses WiFi instead of cellular service.

Year Founded 2009
Founders Brian Acton, Jan Koum
CEO Jan Koum until April 2018; New CEO not yet named
Headquarters Mountain View, California
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 150 million
Alexa U.S. Rank missing
Alexa Global Rank:  60

 

Facebook Messenger

What is Facebook Messenger?

Facebook Messenger is Facebook’s messaging app and platform. Based off of Facebook Chat, which was developed in 2008, the message platform was revamped and released in August 2011. On Facebook’s desktop version, you can access Messenger in the same tab. On a mobile device, using Messenger requires the user to download the Messenger app, which is separate from the regular Facebook app.

Facebook Messenger users can send messages, exchange photos, videos, and other files, as well as react to messages with emoticons and stickers. Additionally, Messenger can be used for group chats or one-to-one communication, including calling. Facebook has also recently rolled out the ability to play games and send money between users. Businesses can also take advantage of Facebook Messenger through the platform's new Facebook chatbot live chat capabilities.

Year Founded 2011
Founders Mark Zuckerberg
CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Headquarters Menlo Park, California
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 8 million
Alexa U.S. Rank 152
Alexa Global Rank:  203

 

Most popular social media Facebook Messenger User Growth 

Instagram

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a social networking app primarily for sharing images and videos. Users can create a free profile with a unique Instagram handle where they can share photos and videos (up to one minute long) with their followers. They can also follow users who post content that is relevant to them, whether it’s their friends or favorite celebrities. Users then interact with other users’ profiles by liking or commenting on their content. Additionally, Instagram offers one-to-one and group messaging between users and the ability to save photos to various collections.

The photo-sharing app was founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in 2010. Instagram rapidly gained popularity, acquiring 1 million registered users in just two months. After three rounds of funding, Instagram was acquired by Facebook on April 9, 2012, for a relatively modest $1 billion. Today, Instagram is especially popular among celebrities and influencers, who use the platform to give their followers “day in the life” content. Instagram marketing has also disrupted the social media marketing game for businesses.

Year Founded 2010
Founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger
CEO Kevin Systrom
Headquarters Menlo Park, California
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 331 million
Alexa U.S. Rank 9
Alexa Global Rank:  14

 

Most popular social media Instagram User Growth

Tumblr

What is Tumblr?

Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking site that allows users to post text, photos, links, videos, and more. The platform, which is especially popular among teens and young adults (you have to be 13 years of age to register for your own blog), is similar to Instagram in that users can follow other users’ blogs and interact with them. However, while Instagram requires an image, Tumblr posts can consist of only text, only images or videos, or a combination.

The platform was founded by David Karp in 2007. Although it was acquired by Yahoo! in 2013, Tumblr maintained its headquarters in New York.

Year Founded 2007
Founder David Karp
CEO David Karp
Headquarters New York, New York
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 29.5 million
Alexa U.S. Rank 22
Alexa Global Rank:  55

  

Google+

What is Google+? 

Google+ is Google’s fourth social networking service, following Google Buzz (retired in 2011), Google Friend Connect (retired in 2012), and Orkut (retired in 2013). Similar to Facebook, the social network enables users to post photos and status updates to the stream (the equivalent to Facebook’s feed), connect with friends and family, and chat or video call privately or in groups with other users in Google Hangouts.

While the service launched in 2011, it hasn’t announced any new features since its most recent redesign in November 2015. The numbers below are up-to-date, but you’ll have to take the Alexa Ranks with a grain of salt. Because Google+ lives on Google’s primary domain, it shares the coveted no. 1 spot. 

Year Founded 2011
Founders Vic Gundotra, Bradley Horowitz
CEO Sundar Pichai
Headquarters Mountain View, California
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 351,000
Alexa U.S. Rank 1
Alexa Global Rank:  1

 

Twitter

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social networking plan where users can post and interact with 280-character (increased from the original 140-character) messages known as Tweets. The service, which is available as both a mobile app and a desktop version, is similar to Tumblr and Instagram in that the content a user posts will appear in their followers’ feeds, and vice versa. Users can also accompany their tweets with images, videos, gifs, and hyperlinks.

New users should utilize resources to properly learn how to set up a Twitter account as well as learn advanced Twitter features, such as how to pin a Tweet, to take full advantage of the platform.

Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. Since its inception, it’s grown to much more than a social networking platform and, today, is a relevant online news source.

Year Founded 2006
Founders Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, Evan Williams
CEO Jack Dorsey
Headquarters San Francisco, California
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 1.6 billion
Alexa U.S. Rank 7
Alexa Global Rank:  12

  

Reddit

What is Reddit?

Reddit, self-described as “the front page of the internet,” is an online community and social networking platform that enables users to submit links, create content, and discuss the topics of their interest with other like-minded individuals. The various posts are organized by subject into user-created boards called subreddits. These subreddits cover a variety of topics, including news, TV shows, music, fitness, and more. Users can give individual posts a rating, either up or down, which will boost or lower the posts position on the site.

Reddit was founded by Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman when they were students at the University of Virginia. It was acquired by mass media company Condé Nast in October 2006 for an undisclosed amount.

Year Founded 2005
Founders Alexis Ohanian, Steve Huffman
CEO Steve Huffman
Headquarters San Francisco, California
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 232 million
Alexa U.S. Rank 5
Alexa Global Rank:  7

  

Snapchat

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a multimedia messaging app where users can send images and videos to friends. It sounds pretty simple, but the defining feature is that these images are only available for a short time before they disappear. Unlike normal texting and sending pictures back and forth, Snapchat more closely mimics an in-person conversation, with a more temporary and natural flow of interaction. Snapchat also introduced Snapchat filters or lenses, which add special effects to an image or video. Users are also able to add virtual stickers, text, and doodles on their pictures or videos to customize them further.

Snapchat has seen its fair share of updates over the years. While the primary focus was on one-to-one messaging, users can now post a Snapchat Story that will appear on their profile for 24 hours. Any of their followers, depending on a users’ privacy settings, are able to view their story. On the other hand, users are able to block certain friends from seeing their story or make it public for anybody to see, even if they aren’t friends on Snapchat. Additionally, the recent “Discovery” feature showcases short-form content from major media brands like Buzzfeed, Food Network, and Cosmopolitan. This guide helps break down how to use Snapchat even more granular. 

Snapchat was founded in 2011 by Bobby Murphy, Evan Spiegel, and Reggie Brown. It operates under Snap Inc., formerly Snapchat Inc., that develops Snapchat and Spectacles. The platform’s Alexa Ranks doesn’t accurately reflect its popularity, as it is solely a mobile app.

Year Founded 2011
Founders Bobby Murphy, Evan Spiegel, Reggie Brown
CEO Evan Spiegel
Headquarters Los Angelos, California
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 7.2 million
Alexa U.S. Rank 1,896
Alexa Global Rank:  4,721

  

Skype

What is Skype?

Skype is a social networking platform that enables users to video chat or make voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices, and more. Additionally, Skype offers the ability to message back and forth and send not just text, but images, videos, and digital documents.

Skype was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennstrӧm, from Sweden, and Janus Friis, from Denmark. The company, which is headquartered in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, was acquired by Microsoft Corporation in May 2011 for $8.5 billion. 

Year Founded 2003
Founders Niklas Zennstrӧm, Janus Friis
CEO Tony Bates
Headquarters Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 23.6 million
Alexa U.S. Rank 445
Alexa Global Rank:  519

 

LinkedIn

What is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a social networking platform specifically geared toward the business community. Similar to Facebook, users each have an individual profile (with a custom LinkedIn URL) where they can post status updates, images, or videos, as well as make professional connections. All of these connections make up what is referred to as a user’s network. The profile itself has been described as the modern resume, as it features a professionals’ work history, education, skills, and more. Users can also search for employment on LinkedIn, and it’s often used by recruiters to seek out qualified candidates.

LinkedIn was founded in 2002 and launched in 2003 by Reid Hoffman, Konstantin Guericke, Jean-Luc Valliant, Allen Blue, and Eric Ly. Hoffman still serves as chairman of the board. In 2016, Microsoft Corporation announced that they were acquiring LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.

Year Founded 2002
Founders Reid Hoffman, Konstantin Guericke, Jean-Luc Valliant, Allen Blue, Eric Ly
CEO Jeff Weiner
Headquarters Mountain View, California
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 149 million
Alexa U.S. Rank 11
Alexa Global Rank:  33

 

Pinterest

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a free social networking platform that enables registered users to share and collect pieces of multimedia (mostly images) and save them to a virtual bulletin board, often devoted to a specific topic, such as cooking, crafting, or music. Pinterest is intended to be a source of inspiration and encourages users to “go out and do that thing,” according to CEO Ben Silbermann.

A user can create a page for themselves for a Pinterest for business page, and there are various Pinterest marketing strategies to boost sales, views and leads for businesses.

A user’s feed is made up of the content the users they follow are pinning or choosing to save. From there, they can either save the content to their own board or continue scrolling. Pinterest Boards can be public (the user’s followers can see them) or private (only the user can see them).

Pinterest was founded in December 2009 and launched in March 2010 by Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp, and Paul Sciarra.

Year Founded 2010
Founders Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp, Paul Sciarra
CEO Ben Silbermann
Headquarters San Francisco, California
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 318 million
Alexa U.S. Rank 29
Alexa Global Rank:  76

 

Flickr

What is Flickr?

Flickr is a social network, online community, and image and video hosting service. Users are able to upload photos and videos and explore content uploaded by other users. Each user has their own Photo stream, which is the collection of all of the photos they’ve ever shared. Similar to Pinterest, users can sort their images into different sets based on style, subject, and more.

In 2004, Flickr was launched by Ludicorp, a company based in Vancouver, Canada. In April 2018, it was acquired by SmugMug, a photo sharing website based in Mountain View, California. 

Year Founded 2004
Founders Stewart Butterfield, Caterina Fake
CEO N/A
Headquarters Mountain View, California
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 11.2 million
Alexa U.S. Rank 226
Alexa Global Rank:  368

 

Kik

What is Kik?

Kik is a free mobile messaging application for iPhones and Androids. The app, similar to WhatsApp and Facebook messenger, enables users to send messages, videos, pictures, and more in either a one-on-one chat or a group chat with up to 50 users. Users can also chat anonymously or follow promoted chats with different entertainers and musicians.

What makes Kik unique is its internal browser that offers various apps similar to Tinder, Emojis, and more. This encourages users to stay within the app as opposed to spending time switching between apps.

Kik was founded by Christopher Best and Ted Livingston in Waterloo, Ontario. Because Kik is a mobile platform, the Alexa Ranks below aren’t an accurate representation of its popularity.

Year Founded 2009
Founders Christopher Best, Ted Livingston
CEO Ted Livingston
Headquarters Waterloo, Ontario
Estimated Organic Traffic (Ahrefs) 910,000
Alexa U.S. Rank 19,177
Alexa Global Rank:  44,941

  

Other social media networks

While these social networks may not be in the top 15 (or even used in the U.S.) here are 10 more social media sites you should probably be aware of:

GroupMe

GroupMe is a mobile group messaging app owned by Microsoft Corporation. The free service enables users to chat one-on-one or as a part of a group message.

Year founded: 2010
Founders: Jared Hecht, Steve Martocci
CEO: Jared Hecht
Headquarters: New York, New York

 

WeChat

WeChat is a Chinese messaging, social media, and mobile payment app.

Year founded: 2010
Founders: Created by Zhang Xiaolong; Developed by Tencent Holdings Limited
CEO: Ma Huateng
Headquarters: Shenzhen, China

 

QZone

QZone is a China-based social networking platform where users can write blogs, send photos, listen to music, and more.

Year founded: 2005
Founders: Developed by Tencent Holdings Limited
CEO: Ma Huateng
Headquarters: Shenzhen, China

 

Discord

Discord is a text, video, and audio communication platform accessed via computer, browser, or mobile phone. The platform’s unique feature is that it is geared toward the gaming community.

Year founded: 2012
Founder: Jason Citron
CEO: Jason Citron
Headquarters: San Francisco, California

 

Periscope

Periscope is an app that allows users to share live video streams directly from their tablet or smartphone. The tool was acquired by Twitter in 2015.

Year founded: 2014
Founders: Joseph Bernstein, Kayvon Beykpour
CEO: Keyvon Beykpour
Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

Viber

Viber is a Japan-based instant text and voice messaging platform.

Year founded: 2010
Founders: Igor Magazinnik, Talmon Marco
CEO: Djamel Agaoua
Headquarters: Limassol, Cyprus

 

Line

Line is a Japan-based freeware app that enables users to exchange texts, images, video, and audio.

Year founded: 2000
Founders: Developed by Naver Corporation
CEO: Takeshi Idezawa
Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan

 

Foursquare

Foursquare is a social networking app that provides personalized recommendations users where to go based on their current location, previous browsing history, past purchases, and more.

Year founded: 2009
Founders: Dennis Crowley, Naveen Selvadurai
CEO: Jeffrey Glueck
Headquarters: New York, New York

 

Myspace

Myspace is a social networking website where users can manage a personal profile, post blogs, join groups, share music, and more. Myspace was acquired by Time, Inc. in 2016

Year founded: 2003
Founders: Tom Anderson, Aber Whitcomb, Brad Greenspan, Chris DeWolfe, Colin Digiaro, Josh Berman, Michael Addicot
CEO: Chris DeWolfe
Headquarters: Beverly Hills, California

 

StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon, now Mix.com, was a discovery engine that pushed recommendations of web content to its users based on their interests.

Year founded: 2001
Founders: Eric Boyd, Garrett Camp, Geoff Smith
CEO: Garrett Camp
Headquarters: San Francisco, California

 

*Note: As of July 1, 2018, StumbleUpon is a closed operation. As of then, all StumbleUpon usernames were transferred to Camp’s latest venture, Mix.com. 

Social media continues to change

The world of social media is always changing. Be sure to check back as we continue to update this article with more social networks, exciting visuals, and data points.  

Ready to become a social media marketing rockstar? Explore the best social media marketing software to help manage all of your social media channels today.

Claire Brenner
Author

Claire Brenner

Claire is a senior content marketing specialist who came to G2 Crowd after graduating from the University of Dayton with a BA in Communication. Born and raised in the Chicago area, her brief stint in Ohio gave her a new appreciation for deep-dish pizza, but left her well-versed in Cincinnati-style chili and "cities" with a population fewer than 400,000. While not writing, Claire can be found practicing calligraphy and planning her next trip.