WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, and more: Global usage of messaging apps and statistics
Messaging apps have become extremely popular! The latest messaging app usage statistics show that WhatsApp has more than two billion users worldwide, Facebook Messenger close to one, while WeChat now counts 1.3 billion. What are the trends in individual countries? What are the most popular apps? We've put together a global overview of messaging apps usage statistics.
How do people use messaging apps? In our guide, we've compiled user demographics and usage statistics for different countries and regions to show you the most current developments. We continuously add countries, messaging apps, and update usage statistics, so check back on a regular basis for the latest numbers!
Global overview: The most used messaging apps
WhatsApp, the Messenger by Meta (formerly Facebook Messenger), Instagram, and WeChat are by far the most popular messaging apps, according to the latest 2023 data from Datareportal. Together, they combine more than six billion active monthly users.
Overall, Meta's "family of apps" dominates the global social media scene, with Facebook showing a strong user growth in 2022, and almost reaching three billion monthly users.
Also interesting: WhatsApp is now delivering roughly 100 billion messages a day, according to the latest data delivered by the company’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. In terms of messenger apps, WhatsApp remains the number one OTT messaging app, followed by the Chinese messaging app WeChat with 1.3 billion users, and the Messenger by Meta with close to one billion users.
The growth of Instagram is also remarkable, from 1.1 billion users in October 2020 to two billion users by January 2023. Speaking of impressive growth: Meta competitor TikTok was also able to reach the benchmark of a billion users as of October 2022, and is now the social media platform where users spend the most time on.
As a small player in the messenger world, Telegram also increased the number of active users from 550 to 700 million.
WhatsApp is the world's favorite social media app
The latest Digital 2023 Report from we are social and Meltwater shows the continued growth in popularity of WhatsApp among the 16-to-64 age group. According to the 2023 report, 15.8% stated that WhatsApp was their favorite social media platform (up 0.1% since January 2022).
It's noteworthy that WhatsApp is stated as an essential medium especially in the group with purchasing power aged 25 and over. This is a great opportunity for companies to reach this target group directly and to use the messenger app, which is so deeply integrated into personal everyday life (more than 17 hours of use per month on average), as a channel for customer loyalty, marketing and sales.
The Meta dynasty
There are only 25 countries in the world where WhatsApp is not the market leader. WhatsApp and the Messenger by Meta are growing about twice as fast as Facebook, the original platform (up 30% year-on-year). Currently, WhatsApp has the highest distribution of all messaging apps worldwide. If you combine all the existing apps of the Meta universe, there are only ten countries in the world where Meta isn't the market leader.
Messaging apps usage statistics in Asia
WhatsApp is the number one messaging app in many Asian countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, just to name a few. At the same time, the Asian market landscape is dominated by regional app providers, such as WeChat in China, KakaoTalk in South Korea, or LINE in Japan, so it's specifically impressive that WhatsApp is still being used as an alternative in many countries.
The four leading social apps in Asia are WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Viber and LINE. In the following, we take a closer look at three particularly interesting Asian markets: India, Singapore, and China.
Messaging apps in India: WhatsApp losing popularity?
With increasing urbanization and steadily increasing internet usage, the Indian market offers huge potential for digitalization. It has currently (as of January 2023) more than 467 million active social media users and 692.0 million internet users, which corresponds to an internet penetration rate of 48.7%. This is virtually unchanged from January 2022. This also means that the majority of Indians are still offline.
In terms of most used social media platforms, WhatsApp remains number one in India, although it's lost in popularity. While in January 2022, 81.2% of internet users between 16 and 64 used WhatsApp monthly, it was only 76.8% in January 2023. Also note that more users (30.5%) say that Instagram is their favorite social media platform, while only 25.6% name WhatsApp as their favorite social media network.
It's an interesting trend that the usage of more "traditional" social networks like WhatsApp, and Facebook has overall decreased, while alternative messenger apps, such as Snapchat and Telegram have become more popular. For instance, the Facebook Messenger reports five million less ad users (minus 5%), while Snapchat grew by 46 million users (plus 37%).
India is a mobile first country
The internet is accessed more by smartphone than through desktop computers or tablets in India. In 2022, 75.5% of websites were accessed through a mobile phone. The three main reasons for surfing the web in India are finding information, watching videos, and finding inspiration.
It's an interesting development that more Indians have become worried about internet security. About one-third of internet users worry about what happens with their data, and more than half express concern about misinformation on the internet.
487.5 million Indians use WhatsApp every month!
In February 2017, India counted 200 million active users on WhatsApp. Only in four years, this number almost doubled and according to eMarketers latest numbers from 2021, India had 487.5 million WhatsApp users.
This still makes WhatsApp the clear market leader for instant messaging apps in India, where it continues to rank as the most sought-after and most-downloaded app. The demographics of WhatsApp users in India show a tendency towards more male users (59%) and a high usage among the age group between 18 to 34 years (total 68%).
Majority of WhatsApp users interested in innovative products
In Statista's latest Global Consumer Review, Indian WhatsApp users shared their product preferences. The study concluded, that 51% of WhatsApp users are interested in new and innovative products.
Messenger from Meta: potential audience for ads in India is 117.6 million users
Meta reports that the number of potential Messenger users in India available for ads over the platform adds up to 117.6 million (roughly five million less than 2022).
Overall, WhatsApp is clearly India's favorite messaging app, and its usage and popularity will most likely increase even more with the government opening the app up to more use cases.
Messaging apps in Singapore: messenger apps most-used smartphone apps
With 340,000 additional social media users compared to last year, Singapore's total number of social media users increased by 6.9% to 5.3 million users. The daily time people spend on social media also increased by 14 minutes, which is 10.2% more than last year.
With 81% using them on a daily basis, messaging apps are the most used digital communication tools in Singapore for people 18 and older.
WhatsApp favorite social media platform for Singaporeans
Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp are the three most-used social media apps in Singapore. WhatsApp is the number one social media platform in Singapore in 2022, with 83.7% of internet users between 16 and 64 years old using the app. On average, they spend 17 hours per month on WhatsApp. Facebook Messenger is in fifth place with 46.6%, which shows a clear preference for the green messaging app.
Messaging apps in China: Chinese use eight social platforms, social media use is growing
Compared to 2021, the social media use in China grew by 5%. While the Chinese spend almost two hours on social media each day, they are using eight different platforms every month.
WeChat still on top of social media platforms in China in 2022
Unsurprisingly, the Chinese app WeChat still is the most-used and favorite social media platform in China in 2022.
WeChat has published new numbers for the third quarter in 2021, and now counts more than 1.2 billion users, out of which at least 900 million use the app daily.
This makes WeChat the third most-used app globally, after WhatsApp (1.5 billion) and the Messenger from Meta, which just hit the magic 1 billion mark. WeChat has seen a massive grwoth in active users since 2011.
WeChat is not only popular within China, but generally popular for Chinese users worldwide. 100 million Chinese citizens use the app outside of the country's borders. This might sound trivial at first, but is important to understand if you are trying to reach out to Chinese travelers or expats via messaging apps.
At the beginning of 2020, 1.15 billion people worldwide were using WeChat. Since July 2020, the Chinese messaging app has gained even more users, and now has 1.2 billion users.
Messaging apps and usage Statistics in Europe
In Europe, the two most popular messaging apps are WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger from Meta. However, Teleram has also gained popularity among European users.
Messaging apps in the UK: number of social media users grows 8.7%
With 57.6 million social media users, the number grows by 8.7% or 4.6 million additional users compared to 2021. That said, 99.4% of the population older than 13 years is using social media in the UK.
WhatsApp ranked first and Messenger third among most-used social media platforms
WhatsApp is the most-used social media platform in the UK with 74.8% of internet users aged 16 to 64 chatting on it. Facebook Messenger comes in third with 58.5% before Instagram and Twitter. Apple's iMessage has a solid user base with 35.4% internet usage.
WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are most-used messaging platforms in 2021
According to the latest numbers on Statista (August 2021), WhatsApp stays the most-used messenger service in the UK, with 80% market share, ahead of the Messenger by Meta. However, WhatsApp is not only the most-used messenger, it's also the most popular app among British users, according to a recent study by Audience Project. The green messenger beats well-known social media networks such as Facebook and Instagram, but also Gmail, Google Maps and Chrome.
More people aged 55+ using Messenger from Meta
Messaging apps are also used across all age groups in the UK. People between 25 and 34 are the most active users in the region. However, users aged 55 years and up are also increasingly using messaging apps.
Compared to August 2020, the percentage of people older than 55 using Facebook's Messenger from Meta grew noticeably from 12.2% to 13.4% for the age group 55 to 64 and from 9.9% to 10.9% for the age group of people older than 65.
Messaging apps in Germany: social media users grow 10% and spend more time
According to the Digital 2022 report, Germans, on average, spend five hours and 22 minutes online every day. Mobile phones make up 41.8% of the total internet time, with two hours and 14 minutes.
The Digital 2022 report for Germany also shows that the number of social media users in Germany grew by 10% year-on-year. There are now 6.6 million more users on social media apps. Also, their time spent on social media increased by 6%, and is now one hour and 29 minutes per day.
WhatsApp leads all social media platforms in 2022
The Digital 2022 report for Germany shows that WhatsApp is the most-used social media platform, with 83.6% of 16-64 year olds using the platform monthly.
According to Statista's Global Consumer survey, WhatsApp is also the most-used video call service in Germany. The Facebook Messenger is used by a third of all users, and Telegram is ranking third with 15% of regular video call usage. As an honorable mention, 8% of Germans use iMessage regularly for their video calls.
WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger in top 5 of most active apps (not counting CovPass app)
As of February 2022, WhatsApp is the most active social app in Germany. Messenger by Meta comes in fifth (not counting the Covid-19 app CovPass app), right behind the Facebook app, Amazon, and Instagram.
Messaging apps in Spain: social media users grow by 8.8%
The number of social media users in Spain has grown by 8.8% to 40.7 million users in 2022.
As far as messaging goes, the newest numbers confirm that WhatsApp continues to play a significant role in Spain when it comes to news consumption. A survey by Statista from early 2021 shows that 43% of Spanish users consume news through messaging apps (WhatsApp: 35%, Telegram: 8%). While news consumption has decreased on Facebook, it has increased on WhatsApp and messenger apps as a whole.
WhatsApp is the most-used and most popular social media platform
With 91% of internet users aged 16 to 64, WhatsApp is the most-used social media platform in Spain. Regarding messaging platforms, the Messenger from Meta ranks second with 38.6% of people using it every month, closely followed by Telegram with 38.3%. 39.7% of internet users in the same age group state that their favorite social media app ist WhatsApp, making it the most popular platform in Spain.
Messaging apps in Italy: more social media users in 2022
Now reaching 43.2 million users, the number of people on social media grew in 2022 in Italy by 5.4%, compared to 2021. On average, Italians spend one hour and 47 minutes on social media daily, and use an average of six social media platforms each month.
WhatsApp is the most popular and most-used social media platform
Similar to Spain, 39.7% of internet users in Italy between 16 and 64 years named WhatsApp as their favorite social media app.
And WhatsApp is also the most-used social media platform in Italy, with 90.3% of Italians using it monthly. Regarding instant messengers, again the Messenger by Meta is ranked second with 51.1% of people using it every month followed by Telegram (45.3%).
Messaging apps in France: 6% growth in number of social media users
In France, social media app usage also grew in 2022. There was a six% increase of year-on-year social media users, bringing the total number of French on social media to 53.6 million users.
Facebook Messenger is the most-used messaging app in France
Unlike many other European countries, France's most-used messaging app is not WhatsApp, but the Messenger from Meta. 59.5% of internet users aged 16 to 64 use the messenger from Meta, whereas only 55.7% use WhatsApp. The third most popular messaging service is iMessage (21.7%). The distribution of messaging apps is therefore more evenly split between different services.
WhatsApp ranks first among iPhone users
Interestingly though, even among iPhone users in France, as of July 2021, WhatsApp is the most-used social media app with 5.5 million daily active users (DAU).
Looking at the number of downloads from Google Play Store, WhatsApp also ranks first there, suggesting an ongoing growth compared to the Messenger by Meta.
Messaging apps in Denmark: Facebook Messenger most-used messaging app, WhatsApp irrelevant
Overall, Danes spend about two hours daily on social media. That's almost 18 minutes or 17.8% more per day than in 2021.
In Denmark, Facebook is the most-used social media app (78.8%), followed by the Messenger from Meta (72%) and Instagram (59.4%). Together, these three Meta platforms are overall the most-used messaging apps in the country. Meta's WhatsApp, on the other hand, is only used by 22.7% of Danish people, and is therefore, in comparison, rather irrelevant. It even ranks lower than iMessage with 32.9% of people using the Apple messenger every month.
Messaging apps in Finland: number of social media users increases
In 2022, there were 270,000 additional social media users in Finland. This marks a significant increase over the last year, with 6.1% more users to a total of 4.73 million users.
Instant messengers are most regularly used social media apps
According to Statista, the Finnish use instant messaging apps like WhatsApp even more (82%) than social networks (70%).
Not one clearly dominant messaging app in Finland
While messaging apps are pupular in Finland, there is no one app that totally dominates the market. Based on potential advertising users reached, we are social and Hootsuire calculate that in 2021, YouTube had the widest reach, with a potential audience of 4.73 million users.
A far second is Facebook with a potential reach of 2.5 million users, followed by Instagram (2.4 million), LinkedIn and the Messenger from Meta (both 1.5 million), and TikTok (1.2 million).
As far as pure messaging apps go, Meta's Messenger is the leading platform.
Messaging apps in Sweden: SMS is most-used messaging platform
The number of social media users in Sweden went up in 2022 by almost one million users, which is 11.2% more compared to 2021. Also, the daily time people spent on social media in Sweden increased by 13%.
Surprisingly, the good old text message (SMS) is leading the field in Sweden when it comes to instant messaging, with 76% usage reach. The Messenger from Meta is the runner-up messaging tool, with 65% of Swedes using it in 2021.
Messaging apps and usage statistics in Africa
Even though the home internet infrastructure in many African countries is lacking, mobile internet usage is widely spread. This makes the continent especially interesting for messaging apps who are designed for mobile communication. One of the fastest growing messaging markets is South Africa.
Messaging apps in South Africa: South Africa is still growing digitally in 2022
In South Africa, the percentage of internet user compared to the total population is around 68%, with a steady yearly growth. The percentage of active social media users, which is around 50% of the total population, is growing rapidly, with a 12% increase in this year alone. This shows that South Africa is still growing in the digital market.
South African's spend almost eleven hours per day using the internet
Of the total of ten hours and 46 minutes daily time spent online by South Africans, the distribution between mobile devices and desktop computers or tablets is fairly even.
Instant messengers top regular use in South Africa
In a survey on the regular use of social media, 91% of respondents said they used messenger services such as WhatsApp on a daily basis. Social network platforms, such as Facebook, were used by 81% of respondents. The worldwide trend of stable messenger usage compared to a slow decline of time spent on social networks and other types of platform is thus also visible in South Africa.
WhatsApp is the most-used and favorite social media platform for South Africans
With 95.4% of internet users aged 16 to 64 using WhatsApp, it's the most popular social media platform in South Africa. Messenger from Meta is ranked fourth with 65.5% of regular monthly users, and Telegram is the ninth most-used messaging platform, with 41.8%.
With 36.8% of South Africans using WhatsApp, the Meta messenger is clearly the most popular social media platform in the country in 2022.
Messaging apps and usage statistics in North America
The usage of messaging apps in North America varies greatly by country. In Mexico, WhatsApp dominates the market, and in the US people prefer SMS, even though the popularity of WhatsApp is also slowly growing.
USA: the use of messaging apps stays stable
The updated statistcs for 2022 show a 12.5% increase (30 million new social media users compared to 2021) in regular social media use in the United States, mainly driven by one category: instant messengers. Other categories, such as social networks, media sharing, blogging or consumer review networks record decreased between 2 to 5% compared to the previous year, whereas instant messaging on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or WeChat seems unphased.
The Messenger by Meta is the most-used messaging app and second most popular social media platform
When focusing only on messaging apps, the Messenger by Meta stands out, with 82% of users reporting to use the messenger regularly. WhatsApp usage also increased by 2%, with now 27% of respondents saying they use the service on a regular basis. This means that the green messenger almost caught up to Snapchat, with now being the second most regularly used messenger (not considering video call services) in the US.
WeChat and Viber usage show small improvements, Telegram more than triples its usage from 3% to 10%.
Among social media platforms, Messenger by Meta ranks second behind the Facebook app. It's also interesting to note that messaging apps in the style of discussion boards, duch as Discord, Nextdor, or Reddit play an important role in US messaging culture.
Interestingly, WhatsApp is the leading messaging app in 169 countries, but not in its domestic market.
WhatsApp is 3rd in the world for user numbers and 5th in growth
Although not the most popular, a study conducted by eMarketer shows, that the US ranks third in number of WhatsApp users worldwide after India and Brazil.
Also, the US is fifth in growth of user numbers with 10% user increase. In other words, the market is far from being saturated.
Some experts even expect the number of WhatsApp users to reach 85 million by 2023.
Today, many Americans actively use WhatsApp, not only to communicate with friends and family abroad, but also as their messenger of choice.
iMessage: growing user base
Communication apps like WhatsApp are available on practically all devices, whereas native apps like Apple's iMessage (and now Apple Business Chat) are limited to one provider.
However, the user base for iPhone is constantly growing in the US. A lot of adolescents prefer iMessage to apps like Snapchat in order to reach out to their friends.
As seen in the depiction of most-used social media platforms above, iMessage is still used by over 40% of internet users in the US, aged 16 to 64.
Messaging apps in Mexico: Mexicans spend almost nine hours daily using the internet
While the distribution on mobile devices and computers is even, with eight hours and 55 minutes per day, Mexicans spend a notable amount of time online.
WhatsApp is the most-used social media platform in Mexico
With 94.3% of internet users between 16 and 64 years, WhatsApp is the most-used social media platform and messaging platform in Mexico in 2022. On average, Mexicans spend 20 hours on WhatsAp pevery month. If you compare Mexico to Latin American countries, it's the second largest WhatsAp market after Brazil.
The Messenger from Meta comes in second. Its usage is also fairly high, with 80.5% of Mexicans using the messenger monthly. Telegram ranks third with 39.9% of people using it every month.
Older age group uses WhatsApp for news
Interestingly, WhatsApp is used by older people in Mexico as a way of sharing news. Where only 18% use the messenger app as a source for news between the ages of 18 and 24, in the age group of 55 years and older, more than half of users (52%) use it for forwarding information.
Messaging apps in Central and South America
In 2021, Central and South America are among the strongest market regions for WhatsApp. 60% of the population in all Latin American and Caribbean countries actively uses the green messenger app, with Facebook Messenger, YouTube, and Instagram all ranking far behind WhatsApp.
The number of monthly active social network users has been steadily increasing from 2014 until 2018. According to an eMarketer prognosis, this trend is likely to continue.
Messaging apps in Brazil: digital growth in Brazil going full force
Besides growing numbers in mobile connections and internet users, a fast-growing interest in social media platforms in Brazil is apparent. In 2022, 21 million more Brazilians used social media. That's a 14.3% year-on-year increase.
Men and women in Brazil use social networks (48% male users and 52% female users), and throughout all age groups. However, with a distribution of over 70%, the reach is greatest among the age group of 15 to 44 year old Brazilians.
Social media is growing fast
In the last eight years, the number of social media users in Brazil doubled from 86 million to 171 million active users, with instant messaging becoming the most popular social media activity. According to a Statista survey from December 2021, instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp, the Messenger from Meta, and Telegram are the most-used social media channels in Brazil with 90% of people using them regularly.
WhatsApp is most-used and most popular social media platform in Brazil in 2022
The most-used social media platform in Brazil is WhatsApp, with 96.4% of internet users aged 16 to 64 years chtting on the green app. WhatsApp is, followed by the Messenger from Meta (67.8%) and Telegram (55.4%), which saw a jaw-dropping increase of over 25% in 2021.
In fact, both WhatsApp competitors Telegram and Signal saw increased popularity in 2021.
However, WhatsApp is still the most popular social media platform in Brazil. 35.4% of internet users aged 16 to 64 stated, that WhatsApp is their favorite social media platform.
Out of all social media apps, Brazilians spend with 29.2 hours by far the most time on WhatsApp. The messenger is outperforming other social media apps in this category with ease. Even YouTube, as a platform for long video formats is viewed less (23.3 hours) in Brazil.
56% of all Brazilians actively use WhatsApp for communication and information. This makes WhatsApp the most popular social media platform in the country, counting 24% more usage than the Messenger from Meta. Among all smartphone users in Brazil, 98% have WhatsApp installed on their devices.
Not only do Brazilians use WhatsApp more than other apps, but they also use it a lot! 86% of all smartphone users who have downloaded the app use it daily and are actively engaged throughout the entire day.
Overall, this makes Brazil one of the most exciting messaging markets in the world.
As these user stats of instant messaging apps around the world show, people increasingly use WhatsApp, WeChat, Telegram, and other chat-based apps to talk to friends and family, but also to businesses. The usage of messaging apps will therefore continue to grow!
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