Social media networks are expected to see their user growth shrink worldwide this year and into the foreseeable future, according to findings by digital market research company eMarketer.

eMarketer’s recent report shows that new user signups to social media sites has slowed significantly across all social media platforms for the past two years, with signups to social media platforms plateauing in 2021, when global digital media consumption skyrocketed during the pandemic. One contributing factor to this phenomenon is the fact that most people are already on social media in some form or another. According to eMarketer, nearly half the world’s population (48.3 percent) and 82 percent of all global Internet users already have at least one social media account.

In pandemic year 2021, wildly popular short-form video platform TikTok experienced an incredible 43.5 percent year-over-year growth in new signups. Messaging app Snapchat came in second (with 25.2 percent new users), followed by Instagram (18.1 percent), Twitter (4.8 percent) and Facebook (4.3 percent).

eMarketer: Social network user growth worldwide by platform (2021-2025)
Social network user growth worldwide by platform (2021-2025).

But not so in 2023. Two years later, it appears the social media world has been saturated, and as a result, new users are few and far between. TikTok, whose users now account for more than a fifth (21.7 percent) of the world’s population, will see less than a third of 2021’s growth this year (12.7 percent). Oddly, Snapchat will briefly overtake TikTok as the fastest-growing social platform in 2023, accounting for user growth of 13.4 percent. That site is currently experiencing surging user growth in India, where TikTok is currently banned. (eMarketer expects TikTok to regain the title for most new users in 2024.)

Instagram’s user growth will be 7.9 percent, which was greater than 2022’s 6.5 percent but still almost two-thirds of what it experienced in 2021. Instagram got a big shot in the arm this year with the debut of its Threads app. Nearly 50 million people used that new platform during its first week, according to findings from data analytics company Similarweb. Facebook user growth, meanwhile, is expected to be 1 percent, which is a quarter of what it was two years ago. Twitter is expected to lose users this year.

eMarketer predicts that by 2025, social media user growth across all sites will slow to a trickle compared to its heyday a few years ago. TikTok is expected to grow by only 7 percent in 2025. Snapchat will experience a new user uptick of only 5.8 percent that year. Instagram will see 4.7 percent user growth, Facebook will get paltry new user gains of only .6 percent. Twitter, on the other hand, is expected to see a net loss of its user base by -4.9 percent.

eMarketer’s findings serve to confirm what many have suspected for a long time: Twitter is in trouble. The social media giant has been losing users consistently for the last few years, a pattern that was exacerbated when Elon Musk took ownership of the platform in 2022. That year, eMarketer says the site grew its user base by only about two percent. In June, internal documents leaked to the New York Times revealed that advertising revenues at the company have fallen 60 percent in the last year, with many companies limiting or outright pulling their ad campaigns from the platform due to policy changes put into place by Musk that allowed an alleged uptick in hate speech on the platform.

eMarketer now predicts that Twitter will lose nearly 3 percent (-2.7 percent) of its user base this year. This loss is expected to widen to -4.1 next year and continue with -4.9 percent in 2025.

eMarketer’s report found that new users of social media platforms now originate mostly from the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

eMarketer’s findings were based on data compiled in May. Research was conducted by the company’s information service unit Insider Intelligence.