Visualizing the Social Media Universe in 2020
Social media has seeped into virtually all aspects of modern life. The vast social media universe collectively now holds 3.8 billion users, representing roughly 50% of the global population.
With an additional billion internet users projected to come online in the coming years, it’s possible that the social media universe could expand even further.
How the Networks Stack Up
To begin, let’s take a look at how social networks compare in terms of monthly active users (MAUs)—an industry metric widely used to gauge the success of these platforms.
|Rank||Social Network||MAUs In Millions||Country of Origin|
Here’s a closer look at individual social platforms, and their trials and tribulations:
To put it mildly, Facebook has had its hands full. A flurry of companies are boycotting Facebook’s ads, while the platform struggles to fend off the spread of misinformation.
Yet, its stock price continues to advance to new highs while the traditional economy faces less than rosy forecasts. Facebook still possesses the largest cohort of users, inching closer to the 3 billion MAU mark—a breakthrough yet to be achieved by any company.
Snapchat and founder Evan Spiegel have had a bumpy road since their IPO in 2017. The stock price reached its nadir near $4 in 2018, reflecting investor concerns tied to the introduction of Instagram Stories. In recent times, the stock has advanced past the $20 mark, although there is still long-term unclarity around monetization and profitability.
YouTube competes head on against traditional television and streaming programs for eyeballs. The platform raked in revenues of $15.1 billion in 2019, nearly double their figures in 2017.
Parent company Alphabet has invested in YouTube with new rollouts like YouTube Music (merged with what was once Google Music) and YouTube Premium—a bundled subscription-based platform providing music, ad-free content, and YouTube Originals. By the looks of it, the future of YouTube will be much more than just videos.
The biggest social platform in China, WeChat has flourished, now holding a whopping 1.2 billion MAUs. As part of the Tencent Holdings conglomerate, they belong to the BATX group that is seen to lock horns with America’s Big Tech.
There have been whispers of a Reddit IPO on Wall Street for some time now. While such an event has not yet materialized, Reddit’s success certainly has. With 430 million MAUs relative to 330 million in 2018, the company continues to attract a larger audience. The notion of community has taken on a different meaning in the digital age, and Reddit represents this transition with their ever-growing network of users.
Instagram has been vital to Facebook’s success, since its $1 billion acquisition in 2012. The platform attracts a younger audience compared to Facebook and it has demonstrated an ability to remain versatile, specifically by implementing Instagram Stories and Reels.
Busy schedules don’t seem to faze Jack Dorsey who has not one, but two CEO jobs in Twitter and Square. Twitter has been able to achieve profitability in the last two years, reporting net income figures of $1.2 and $1.5 billion in 2018 and 2019 respectively. They no doubt have their work cut out for them as they continue to combat fake news and similar controversies on their platform.
If any publicity is good publicity, then 2020 has been TikTok’s year. Headlines include privacy breaches with alleged ties to the Chinese Communist Party, a banning of the app by India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and now, talks of a partial U.S. acquisition. Potential acquirers include leaders Microsoft, Twitter, and Oracle.
Social Media Under Trial?
Despite the list of headwinds social media has faced, about half of the world is now on it—and there seems to be no end in sight for future growth.
How have companies with exposure to the social media universe fared in 2020 so far?
|Companies With Exposure To Social Media||YTD Price Returns|
Widespread participation in social media comes with its fair set of problems. Some companies such as Facebook have found themselves in the crosshairs on both sides of the political spectrum. As concerns grow around privacy and data, social media will be front and center in shaping the future of government, business, and politics.
Only time will tell just how high user counts will reach. The long-term trajectory suggests there’s more room left in the engine. There are still parts of the world that are just beginning to possess the technological infrastructure for social media to be a possibility. It’s plausible future growth will come from that avenue.
If stock prices of companies linked to social media are of relevance, their performance this year paired with the fact that they are trading near all-time highs supports such a growth thesis.
Mapped: The Top Podcasts on Spotify Across Countries
Podcasting is now a billion dollar industry, attracting big names and audiences to match. Here’s a global look at the top podcasts on Spotify.
The Top Spotify Podcast Across Countries
We are amidst the breakout era of podcasts. Since the beginning of the smartphone revolution, the digital audio format has picked up serious traction with audiences all over. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that there will be 132 million podcast listeners by 2022.
Today, there are 850,000 active podcasts available in 100 languages, with over 30 million episodes to tap into—perfect if you have an afternoon to yourself.
Worldwide Podcast Chart-Toppers
The data in this infographic comes from Spotify, the top global streaming service in the industry by paid users. How do the top podcasts fare on a per country basis?
|Country||Top Podcast||Honorable Mention (Second Highest)|
|Canada||The Joe Rogan Experience||Call Her Daddy|
|France||Choses a Savoir||Mythes et Legendes|
|UK||The Michelle Obama Podcast||The Joe Rogan Experience|
|Germany||Gemischtes Hack||Fest & Flauschig|
|Italy||Blu Notte - Fisteri Italiani||Mushio Selvaggio|
|U.S.||The Michelle Obama Podcast||Call Her Daddy|
|Australia||From The Newsroom||The Joe Rogan Experience|
|India||The Michelle Obama Podcast||Purijagannadh|
|Ireland||The Joe Rogan Experience||The 2 Johnnies Podcast|
|Mexico||Leyendas Legendarias||La Cotorrisa|
|New Zealand||The Joe Rogan Experience||Call Her Daddy|
|Argentina||Concha Podcast||Entiende Tu Mente|
|Austria||Verbrechen||Fest & Flauschig|
|Brazil||NerdCast||Café da Manha|
|Chile||Tomas Va A Morir||Matriarcalmente Hablando|
|Colombia||DianaUribe.fm||Dani 3Palacios Podcast|
|Denmark||Morkeland||Her Gar Det Godt|
|Norway||Friminutt med Herman og Mikkel||G-punktet|
|Philippines||Sleeping Pill with Inka||Adulting With Joyce Pring|
|Poland||Kryminatorium||Ja I moje przyjaciółki idiotki|
|Spain||Nadie Sabe Nada||Entiende Tu Mente|
|Sweden||P3 Dokumentar||Sommar & Vinter i P1|
|Netherlands||Zelfspodcast||Man man man, de podcast|
Many of the top shows around the world follow a familiar interview or conversational format, but there are trends that deviate from that formula. In particular, there are a number of podcasts focused on health and wellness as well as current events.
The early beginnings of podcasting were dominated by upstart content creators, but as the market has matured, big media outlets and A-list personalities have been vying for listeners’ attention in an increasingly crowded field. As it stands now, two podcasts from America carry a large presence in foreign markets, and the two big personalities—Michelle Obama and Joe Rogan—stand a notch above the rest.
The Rogan-Obama tug of war in the podcast realm has had its back and forths. Obama pulled ahead in many countries in August, but in September the pendulum swung in favor of Rogan.
Follow The Money
In 2015, ad revenue in the podcast industry was a minuscule $69 million across the board. It’s expected to reach over $1 billion by 2021, and to grow further from there.
The podcast boom is powered by younger generations, and both millennials and Gen Z represent a sizable portion of the total podcast audience globally. In particular, demographic listenership numbers experience a big drop after the 35-54 age bracket.
Flexibility and variety are key features that are helping fuel the growth of the medium. One can keep up with serious world affairs or listen to Call Her Daddy—a podcast on sex and relationships by Barstool Sports, another podcast that frequently tops the charts.
Top Podcast Publishers by U.S. Audience
When it comes to key participants in the industry, National Public Radio (NPR) sits on the top spot with over 26 million unique monthly audience members. In close second, iHeartRadio holds a whopping 494 shows.
|Podcast Publisher||U.S. Unique Monthly Audience||Global Downloads & Streams||Active Shows|
|New York Times||13,102,000||145,961,000||15|
|Cumulus Media/Westwood One||6,473,000||40,912,000||115|
|This American Life/Serial||5,924,000||22,722,000||2|
|All Things Comedy||4,890,000||28,770,000||58|
|American Public Media||3,362,000||17,997,000||50|
|Fox News Radio||2,518,000||13,633,000||34|
If you’re bullish on podcasts, many in the top 20 are publicly traded entities who either stand alone, or are part of a larger corporation. Notable stocks include the New York Times, ESPN as part of Disney, and Warner Media as part of AT&T.
Spotify Today and Tomorrow
Spotify’s direct listing IPO was initially met with a lack of confidence, due to Big Tech’s entry in the space, as well as the profitability and monetization concerns that typically plague the music industry as a whole. However, the company has done well in abating those concerns, especially if you consider Spotify’s stock price, which has doubled in the last year. An impressive 21% of Spotify’s monthly active users engage with podcast content.
In addition, a wealth of personalities have entered the podcasting space. These big names suggest that the competition is dialing up.
In recent months, an exclusive deal between Spotify and Joe Rogan, valued at over $100 million took the podcasting world by storm. This is quite a monumental step for the podcast timeline, and one that suggests more deals could follow as Spotify looks to lock people into their platform with exclusivity deals.
Here’s What Happens Every Minute on the Internet in 2020
A lot can happen in an internet minute. This graphic looks at the enormous numbers behind the online services billions use every day.
What Happens Every Minute on the Internet in 2020
In 2020, an unfathomable amount of digital activity is occurring at any given moment. This ongoing explosion in activity is the aggregate output of 4.5 billion internet users today, a number that’s projected to increase even further in coming years.
This powerful visual from Domo helps capture what happens each minute in today’s hyper-connected internet era, and it’s actually the eighth edition produced since the year 2012.
What can we learn from the evolution of what happens in an internet minute?
How Times Have Changed
Over its relatively short history, the internet has been a catalyst for both the rise and demise of new companies and platforms.
By looking at which brands have appeared in the graphic in earlier years, we can roughly chart the prominence of certain tech segments, as well as observe brands with the most staying power.
As you can see above, platforms like Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare showed some promise, but eventually got omitted from the graphic as they dropped off in relevance.
Meanwhile, tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google have had impressive staying power, evolving to become some of the biggest companies in the world. In the process, they’ve caught up to longer-standing titans like Apple and Microsoft at the top of the food chain.
The New “New Thing”
Not surprisingly, much of the internet landscape looks different in 2020. Here are a few of the digital hot spots today.
Nearly $240,000 worth of transactions occur on Venmo per minute. This has served as a catalyst for parent company PayPal, which evolved along successfully with fintech trends. PayPal’s stock now trades at near all-time highs.
Even before COVID-19 resulted in shuttered storefronts and surging online orders, e-commerce was a booming industry. It’s now estimated that $1 million is now spent per minute online. Amazon ships an astounding 6,659 packages every minute to keep up with this demand.
In a predominantly remote-working environment, tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams host 208,333 and 52,083 users each minute respectively. Particularly in the pandemic era, it seems that this trend is here to stay.
The accelerated world we are in today means that many companies do not sustain a competitive advantage for as long. Social media companies have dwindled as observed above, and this is similarly reflected in the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company.
A typical company’s tenure on the S&P 500 is expected to shrink rapidly in the next few years:
- 1964: 33 years
- 2016: 24 years
- 2027E: 12 years
Companies are shaving anywhere between 15-20 years off those highs, with estimates of further declines. This metric symbolizes the rapid evolution of the business landscape.
What Lies Ahead
It’s seemingly easy to forget mankind is still very early in the developments when it comes to the internet. But in this short period, its rise to prominence and the broad digitization of the world has left us with a very eventful timeline.
If the last decade serves as a reference point, one can expect further and intensifying competition among tech companies. After all, the reward—winning in today’s digital economy—reaps much greater value.
All signs point to internet activity advancing to further heights, if not because of 5G and its associated breakthroughs, then perhaps due to the steady rise in people gaining internet access.
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