Did you know that developing nations are among those who make up the majority of the top social media users in the world? At the same time it is important to note that the majority of these countries’ populations are actually non-Internet users, with many still preferring to communicate via standard phones that allow text messaging and calling.

Those who are Internet users spend a significant amount of their online time using social media and there is much to be said about the factors that affect why these countries spend more time on social media than others. According to a global study conducted by the Pew Research Center spring of 2013, the following developing countries use social media the most:

Rank Country % of internet users active in social media
1 Egypt

88 %

2 Russia & Philippines

86 %

3 Tunisia

85 %

4 Indonesia & Jordan

84 %

5 Venezuela & Nigeria

83 %

6 Turkey

79 %

7 Ghana & Mexico

77 %

8 Chile, Malaysia & Kenya

76 %

9 Argentina, El Salvador & Senegal

75 %

10 Brazil

73 %

Despite the fact that Facebook was conceived in the United States, proportionally, these countries outpace the number of Internet users in the U.S. by the day. Worldwide, however, a common factor still holds true: the majority of social media users range from 18-30 years old.

What makes social media users from developing countries stand out is their enthusiasm for the technology. They’re active and they tend to use social media in their everyday lives. According to the study, they use it mainly to connect with family and friends as well as to discuss pop culture topics and for political discourse.

With everything happening so fast in the world of communication technology, it may only be a matter of time until Internet-enabled smartphones become ubiquitous in developing countries, replacing cellular phones. This in turn will allow the use of social media as a platform for communication to become even more widespread.

67 Comments
  1. Wow, I genuinely didn’t expect such high results. That’s actually rather interesting and Egypt #1 on that list is surprising as well. I’m half filipino and when I visited the Philippines for the first time the internet there was unbearably slow. Maybe that’s the reason why they spend so much time on social media… because they can walk away from the computer and hopefully things are loaded by the time they get back. Joking aside, my experience was maybe 10 years ago, but maybe if anything that shows how much things have really progressed.

    • Lol! I actually visited the Philippines about a year and a half ago and the hotel we stayed at had incredibly fast internet service! Things probably have improved tremendously since you visited, I had no complaints whatsoever πŸ™‚ a very beautiful place it is, too!

  2. I am not surprise. I was reading the ALEXA rankings for internet websites that receive the most viewership. Google was number 1 throughout the world. Then Facebook was second. Next was You tube. I thought those were only popular in North America and Europe. However those sites were popular in Africa and Asia. That means people all over the world have access to those social media sites.

    • It’s because smart phones have become so popular and affordable. Nobody needs an expensive device to connect to the internet anymore, everything can be done on a cheap cell.

  3. I knew developing country users with internet access used social media sites, but I never expected the statistics to be so huge! Though on another side, I can actually see this happening. People in developing countries are just starting to have more exposure to a multitude of technologies like PC’s and the Internet. The culture that people in developing nations were raised in is usually not a technologically advanced one, so those who are exposed to such technologies end up using it more than the average person in a developed nation because it’s a complete game changer for the person!

    • You wrote, “so those who are exposed to such technologies end up using it more than the average person in a developed nation because it’s a complete game changer for the person!” which is the truth. However, I have a suspicion that those with technologies are college students, of children of the very wealthy. The wealthy want a better life for their children just like westerners want for their offspring.
      A country like Egypt has sent hundreds of thousands of young men to every major university in the world. Many of them study the sciences and mathematical subjects because of language barriers. I believe, One of the founding members of Yahoo was an Egyptian.

    • I definitely think this phenomena can be attributed to smart phone ownership. People don’t need an expensive laptop to access the internet now – they can do it all from a Β£50 Android phone. Smart phones have made the internet much more accessible for all.

  4. This is interesting, I take no part in social media and I am astounded by these results. I have never really paid attention to this, but I have many family members living in Mexico and they were (and still are) extremely active on Facebook while I had an active account. I visited my family a while ago and interestingly enough, they are very knowledgeable on local current events. I can not say the same and I live in a large urban city in the US.

  5. All of the results and growth is because of the overwhelming craze of social networks in developing countries. Facebook can be considered as one of the prime reasons for this.
    Honestly, i didn’t expect Egypt to be a the top. Still, its good to know that. πŸ™‚

  6. I can totally believe it. Living in a developing country myself, I saw first hand how access to mobile phones transformed the lives of’ African people and created new communication options. Also, I think many developing countries have younger populations, who are more inclined to adapt to social media and incorporate it in their lives.

  7. These statistics are simply astonishing. For one I didn’t think that Egypt had so many social media users. I’m surprised that developing nations’ internet users who access social media is higher than 25%. This list has definitely opened my eyes to a more global view of how the internet affects the world.

  8. It doesn’t surprise me that much, considering how some telecommunication companies limit the stream of outside newsworthy information. At least with social media you stand a chance of getting accurate information from better developed and less censored countries that support their media’s efforts to obtain all the facts.

  9. I am from India and India has one of the largest social networking population in the world on sites like Facebook and Twitter. The percentage of Indians active on social media may not be high because India consists of a large rural population and also older people, like, people in the 35 and above age group do not prefer social networking. However, India is high just because of its high population and the fact that the ‘young’ age group, i.e., those who are 18-30 years old, are the majority of the country makes it one of the highest social networking countries in the world.

  10. Woah! Surprising results. I thought India would be up there somewhere, but the lowest, Brazil has 73% users on Social Media. India will take some more time I guess to be on such lists.

  11. Its pretty surprising the the United States was not on the list at all when its culture revolve arounds it. Weirdly enough, third-world countries are more active in social media than other well off countries. This was a really interesting article since I didn’t expect this.

  12. Wow, don’t people have anything better to do? I come from a developing country, and, seriously, i’d like it if they stopped using this so-called ‘social’ media and actually socialized a bit more. Maybe technology could advance a bit more? I honestly don’t see the point of sitting behind a screen all day and chatting to people. Crazy.

  13. It’s such a wonderful encouragement that so many countries are becoming connected. It is a great thing when people can access the information and education they need. It is going to lead to a lot more innovation and sharing of ideas. I’m excited to see the results!

  14. The countries listed here aren’t exactly what I was expecting! I expected Switzerland, the United States, and China to be at the very top of the list. The most surprising country was Egypt. I never expected a Middle Eastern country to use more social media than the west does. This was not something I was expecting!

  15. This is quite fascinating and it goes again to show that we can’t make assumptions about social media popularity based on regions of the world. As mobile phones become more and more ubiquitous worldwide, more and more people are taking full advantage of social media. After all, it is foremost a great connector as tens of millions are discovering for themselves.

    We have also seen Facebook and Twitter in particular playing a significant role for those who are engaged in social protest and revolution; it has been a tremendous organizing tool.

  16. Wow! I didn’t know that our country will be getting the second spot but it’s actually true that most of us use social media sites a lot. I personally have a lot of social media accounts and I mainly used it to kill time and check on my friends since I rarely receive emails from them about the latest on their lives. With the help of social media I can just go check on their status or posts and there’s no need for me to text or email them.

  17. I really understand Egypt using so much. People use social media to organize voting, to make protests against the government, to socialize too. This graph seems to be accurate and I do believe that these results are true.

  18. So we’re number 2 in the list, huh. I’m not sure if I should be proud or not. We’re popular social media junkies but as much as there’s “pride” in that, I still can’t be proud of it because our country is also known for government corruption. Well, at least we’re known for “another thing” now. Ha!

  19. I’m from one the countries mentioned on the list, Kenya, and I can attest to the popularity of social media in our country. Young people no longer text, they use whatsApp. Young people get their daily dose of news from twitter and they are always updating their Facebook status and instagram pages with the latest in their lives.

    Smartphones have deeply penetrated the market and young people prefer them to the outdated cellphones that can only text and call(at least the major functions). Due to the high penetration of smartphones, their prices have since reduced and almost anybody can afford it. Smartphones come as cheap as 50 USD!! Yes, you heard me right. I guess even the other developing countries can say the same for their statistics.

  20. The replacement of cellular phones is definitely a good thing for these people, and it’ll open up tons more dolors for communication and interaction that they couldn’t have had perviously. Though this kinda strengthens social media’s power, like Facebook’s grip on the world, which frightens me because they’ve shown the ability to gather data that we never even thought they would be able to get a hold of.

  21. What a really cool list. I’m not surprised, per-se, that these countries are participating, but it’s exciting to see it becoming more worldwide. It opens up the experiences to share and be shared with more directions.

  22. Wow those numbers are huge! I would make a developing country joke but I deem it inappropriate, but seriously though if I’m reading this correctly, those that mean that 88% of the population of Egpty uses social media?

    • It does seem surprising but the Egyptians tend to be educated and progressive people who are certainly willing to embrace change. The affordability of basic mobile devices also helps.

  23. Great article and very interesting. I love seeing all of these countries having their presence on social media and the internet. The internet is a basic necessity and everyone should have access to it, not to mention the social-economic impact of people in developing countries having access to the WWW.

  24. It’s surprising to see how certain products made in America can take off so fast and hold steady in other countries. Maybe we take for granted just how fast we can communicate through these and people in developing countries appreciate it more. Either way, it’s very interesting to see how people in other cultures take to these websites.

  25. Cool so basically these countries population, a good 80% of them are on Facebook? But what’s more cool is the top 2 countries on the list (not sure about Russian though) is in the list of countries who has the slowest internet connection.

  26. The list is really interesting and unexpected. I would love to know more about the social factors in those developing countries that lead to such heavy use of social media. Particularly as it states that the majority of the population in each country listed does not use social media. It does not surprise me that the age range is 18-30 years for the majority of social media users, however I would also not be surprised to see the lower end of that age range drop in the close future. It seems that pre-teens and teens gain access to social media via smart phones at a very young age, at least here in the US. I wonder what differences there are in that category among the developing countries.

  27. This is very surprising. I honestly did not know that more people in other countries use social media. I knew that some countries but some of the ones mention, I did not know of. It is very interesting that out of all the countries, Eygpt is the top country using social media. Truly amazed.

  28. I’m from the Philippines and although I was not surprised that the PH ranked in the list, I am impressed that it ranked second. πŸ™‚

    And yes guys, as you may have mentioned, we do have a very slow internet connection 3-5 MBPS are the fastest (from what I know), and 1 MBPS is the average if you are lucky and living in a Metropolitan area.

    I think the reason for this is that our country is divided into islands (it’s 7107 islands) and people do want to contact there relatives or the people from there home town that they have lost in touch, and Social media is a cheaper way in doing that than using mobile or telephone. And almost every one in the country have mobiles now.

    • Yeah I went back for a visit and the speed was atrocious and to think that you guys are paying so much money each month for a crappy service. But I guess it’s better than nothing.

  29. This is interesting, my country belongs to Top 2 that use social media the most. Social Media are used in many forms it can be from making friends to selling stuff online. All of my friends use Social Media to interact with each other. Social Media became part of our lives where it became our daily routine to open our accounts and get updated.

  30. Didn’t expect some of the countries in the list to have a really high percentage. They are lucky, because the larger percentage is primarily due to the fact that Internet access is being provided more easily available that other developing countries. I can imagine some of it being popular due to political changes, and other for the fondness of the Entertainment industry. This is a good sign, and other countries too should make it possible for people to have access to cheaper internet so they can connect with the world.

  31. I can relate, since the situation is similar to my home country. A lot of people still don’t really know how to use the internet, but pretty much everyone that’s currently within the age range of 15-35 actively uses the internet if they can. Hell, social media around here is rampant with preteens, mostly on Facebook and Ask.fm and it’s honestly hilarious and sad what some kids do for random internet popularity.

  32. The social media has been a base for mass communication in developing countries like india. There are many reasons for this, which includes the high population in these countries and the eagerness and the lust to know and to learn and to progress, which makes them hungry for news, to know what’s happening, to know how to excel. Many students have been more aware than ever through facebook, instead of the news channels and the newspapers. It’s amazing how facebook has been sometimes the inspiration and the place for patriotism and has brought unity among many users across countries.

  33. The fact that Egypt is highest on the list is not surprising at all. Just consider how popular the fight for independence became when it was only happening in small areas of the Middle East. Because of Egypt’s use of social media, this allowed the cause to spread far beyond the country itself and all over the world. This is what social media has become: a method of transport for those in need to express themselves in the eyes of the entire world.

  34. Oh, wow! I didn’t expect Egypt to be #1. As the time goes by I’m sure most of the people will have a smartphone that is able to connect to a social media.
    I think it’s good that so many people are using social media sites. That means that the internet has really grown lately! And is gonna be mandatory for most of the people in the future in my opinion.

  35. I wasn’t suspecting Egypt to be on top of the list. Very interesting! I wonder why that is. Social media one of those things you’d expect to see be popular in any country that allows it, especially developing countries.

  36. When I saw Nigeria on the list I was not surprised. Nigerians are known to use social media sites like Facebook to scam people.But I met a Nigerian man online and so far is very sweet. So, not all ones who use social media in developing countries do it to trick people out of money.

  37. I think these guys go nothing to do so they make time by going online to make friends. They probobly dont liek there country too much and would like to experience other countries and make friends there. Might be there ticket to move out to a better place.

  38. Notice that Singapore is not on the list. When you learn that Singapore is one of the first few Asian countries with an eCitizen portal, you may want to focus on either the information provided in its eCitizen website is part of a new campaign, or it’s an experimental government project. The country became important because many cheap internet providers in Asia are working together with Singaporean internet providers to gain more access to the internet. Despite unavailable data on the social media use of its citizen, other Asian countries look to Singapore for the trends and for help in regulation and compliance.

  39. I agree that these countries are very big on the technology fad. So I can see them making a great use out of all this social media we have going on. I am excited to see what the future hold.

  40. Wow! If anyone would’ve asked me I’d say the U.S uses the internet more than any of these countries. I guess it’s a matter of where you’re looking and what you’re doing. as an american citizen I still think pyramids when it’s comes to Egypt and they top the list. The internet is growing at a very fast pace, maybe I’ll try and make some new friends outside of the states.

  41. This is very interesting as I am living in Chile right now and I see it’s at the 8 place on the list. Since I moved here I noticed that nothing is at it used to be in the UK, every business has a functioning website and all the information is there to help you get in touch with that business. In Chile, they are clearly beginners and are in serious need of web development, which could be a greta opportunity for those interested in it.

  42. I too didn’t expect the stats to be so high. However, I think this is great. I think the more that internet users such social media – which it be in a developing country or a developed country – the better it is for the person. Social media can help with not only spreading news faster (lets say an Ebola outbreak in their neighborhood), but also with education and building a community. I am glad to hear this news.

  43. I am surprised. I thought Philippines would be number 1 in the list. I am seeing people with smartphones every where and Facebook mobile in frequent use. The only thing I wished for is that service providers in the Philippines upgrade their capabilities so that it can handle the large number of users.

  44. Wow- I was very surprised to find half of these countries even in the list! If you had of asked me this question point blank and asked me to get them in the correct order I don’t think I could of ever done it, that’s how off my assumptions were!

  45. Okay I have to admit, I am pretty surprised that the US isn’t anywhere in the top ten. Egypt really surprised me, but the others on the list make sense. I mean it is one of the best and easiest ways to connect with others in the world for pleasure, business, or whatever else.

  46. Social media is now used in various fields and e-retailing through social media is the latest use of it.

  47. I am not surprised to see Egypt at the top of this list. When I visited, the inhabitants seemed to be very well educated and progressive. I had no idea that Russia was considered to be a developing country though.

  48. Wow, that’s surprising for me. But then again, I actually read a book that talked about Facebook. The author was from Trinidad and Tobago, I think? and described the problems of corruption in his country as well as the Facebook phenomenon and the different ways it affected the population. How games like Farmville allowed cousins to keep in touch; how Facebook allowed wives to ‘stalk’ their man and the female friends of their man, allowing for growing jealousy; how it served at spreading news and at forming business connections, etc. It was a fascinating read, and certainly I did not expect Facebook to have such an impact on this small island far away. But having family in a tiny island, I have to say, it is not as surprising, on second thought, considering how many people like to keep the rumor mill going!

  49. Interesting list. Really Egypt number one? I’m surprised India doesn’t feature. It must be that everyone in Egypt has a cheap smartphone and maybe mobile internet prices are affordable there too. It seems the western countries need to pick it up a gear or two on facebook!

  50. The crazy thing is that I’m actually taking a course focused solely on this fact this year at university talking about cellphones and mobility in the developing world. It is truly a phenomena that has grown recently and is definitely a market that industries, especially those related to mobility, are trying to tap into. And although projects such as putting in towers to give rural areas both cell phone and internet access are expensive, it actually ends up worth it in the long run due to the high number of users once installed!

  51. The crazy thing is that I’m actually taking a course focused solely on this fact this year at university talking about cellphones and mobility in the developing world. It is truly a phenomena that has grown recently and is definitely a market that industries, especially those related to mobility, are trying to tap into. And although projects such as putting in towers to give rural areas both cell phone and internet access are expensive, it actually ends up worth it in the long run due to the high number of users once installed! (sorry I may posted this twice but I can’t tell at the moment!)

  52. To be honest, I am surprised that the Philippines is all the way up there on the list. Being filipino myself, I did not expect that result. This may be due to the fact that I have not visited in a couple of years. When I lived there, social media was an unusual word.

  53. This is amazing, and I really didn’t expect this list to come out the way it did. Ghana? When I ventured to Ghana, it seemed that they didn’t even know what social media is. But, this also shows the popularity and the increasing importance that social media has on the world socially. This really creates a cultural diffusion between the entire world. Cool!

  54. I am amazed India is not in that list. I have been running hypestats on the writing sites that are supposed to pay you for blogging and India comes out top for nearly every one. All those sites have a way to share to social media.

    The smartphone is ideal for blogging and cheaper than a laptop or stand alone PC and also sometimes the social media sites seem better optimised for them than the desktop versions. I can see why therefore they would be popular in developing countries although I am sure, only available to a small proportion of people. If they become widespread this could really help people. Although it could not keep it up, the Phillipines did well out of Bubblews when it paid well as a dollar there for writing several blog posts was worth a lot more than in the US, I think the use of smartphones could do a lot for the third world economy! There are places online where people can earn as long as they can get a paypal account.

  55. It doesn’t surprise me that Egypt is on top of that list because of all the unrest in that region.

  56. Well I really didn’t expect this. The percentages seem unreal, because over 80% is a very high rating of internet users to be on social media. Of course, thinking about it, social media is now apart of most peoples lifes, so that doesnt surprise that much, but still very high percentages for such countries, that doesn’t have the best life conditions.

  57. Egypt may have been catapulted into first place because of the multitude of protests and the Arab spring in general. Social media is the most effective way of communicating in a revolution and can’t be censored or shut down (for the most part; but we know what happened, don’t we?)

  58. This explains why social media companies are putting up projects to extend internet access to developing countries even further. They clearly have understood their potential. For example, Facebook has been planning to beam internet access to developing countries from the sky. Just last week at a Facebook developers’ conference in San Francisco, CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained plans to use unmanned aircraft to provide internet access to the developing world. This is an interesting concept to watch out for.

  59. This article is spot on, I’ve noticed the presence of people from those countries a lot, specially in Facebook! They can also be found in online games a lot, specially the people from the Philipines πŸ™‚ My friend has met a lot pinay people in many online games he has played over the years. Their presence online is very strong!

  60. I’m really glad to hear EGYPT is one country that’s actually developing in terms of that. We need a lot of it in the middle east, where they share a good message and a lot of people get to hear it and share the common need in humanity which is love, forgiveness and mercy. When I first saw that it was number one I was actually surprised, but I’m happy about it πŸ™‚

  61. Recently when promoting a blog on Facebook I noticed that I was getting traffic regularly from Brazil. And I suppose as more Brazilians learn English there’ll be numerous sites getting a lot more traffic via social media from Brazil and most of the other countries listed here.

    And as more people buy smartphones there’ll be more people using social media.

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