Facebook Revenue and Usage Statistics (2021)

Mansoor Iqbal

Updated: April 6, 2021

Facebook probably needs no introduction; nonetheless, we’ll start with a potted history (scroll ahead a little to the contents if you want to skip straight to the stats).

The world’s biggest and most-famous social network was launched by Mark Zuckerberg while he was a student at Harvard University, in early 2004. TheFacebook, as it was then known, was originally intended to serve a digitised version of the ‘face books’ held by Harvard’s various colleges – paper directories containing images and personal information about students.

Initially limited to Harvard, it expanded to include students at other elite US universities, before being opened to all universities and high schools in the US and Canada. In 2006, it was finally decided to open the site up to the general public – the rest, as they say, is history.

Today mobile apps for Facebook, launched in 2008 on iOS and 2010 on Android, can be found on users’ phones across the globe. The app counts nearly 3 billion users, as of early 2021.

If you happen to have been living under a rock for most of the 21st century, the primary function of Facebook is to allow users to connect with friends and acquaintances. The ‘action’ takes place along a feed known as the timeline, on which you can read updates posted by your friends.

Over the years this functionality has expanded to include multimedia content, and ‘sharing’ – the re-posting of content initially posted by others on Facebook or elsewhere. All stuff that seems rudimentary to us now, but at the time were pioneering innovations from Facebook and other members of that first post-MySpace wave of social networks.

Private message functionality eventually became standalone app, Facebook Messenger, though is still part of the desktop site. Users can also upload pictures, and tag those that appear on them – with pictures of any given individual filed under their profile. Here you’ll also be able to find a catalogue of pages and groups (maybe common interest or political, maybe related to a business, often simply communities built around a humorous concept) which have been ‘liked’ by users.

It is around these purported interests that Facebook segments its audiences for its core revenue generator: advertising. The sheer number of Facebook users around the world means that the app offers one of the most comprehensive and diverse advertising audiences of the digital age.

So, that’s just about what Facebook does in a nutshell. Ready to dive into some serious Facebook stats? To skip ahead to a specific section of Facebook stats, here’s the table of contents. If you want to read more about the Facebook story, the introductory section continues below…

Table of Contents

Facebook Overview and Key Statistics

Facebook User Statistics

Facebook Usage Statistics

Facebook Marketing Statistics and Facebook Advertising Statistics

Facebook Revenue Statistics

Above we mentioned the ‘like’ – this seems a good place to segue to some of Facebook controversies that have dogged the site throughout its history. Originally a novel concept introduced (in 2009) to allow users to show they approved of something that has been posted, the concept is thought to have had a negative effect on the mental health of users. So much so that the engineer who pioneered the concept has deleted the Facebook app from his phone. Facebook (and Instagram – which is owned by Facebook, as well as WhatsApp) have even run tests removing the feature in light of this.

This is certainly not the only Facebook controversy. Indeed, it was troubled from the very start, when fellow Harvard-goers who had worked with Zuckerberg in the early stages of developing the website brought a lawsuit against Facebook in 2004, claiming that the founder had stolen their ideas. The case was settled for $65 million in 2008 – mostly in the form of stock, which of course soared in value following Facebook’s IPO in 2012. This became the subject for much-lauded film The Social Network in 2010.

That, of course, is a rarefied case of relatively little concern to the ordinary punter. On the other hand, they might be more concerned with the platform’s complicity in the spread of fake news, which is thought to have influenced the result of the US presidential election of 2016 and (allegedly) the UK’s EU referendum in the same year.

The former was also tied to the Cambridge Analytica scandal – during which the data of 87 million people was made available to consultancy firms working in the political sphere. Zuckerberg was required to face a US Senate hearing over this Facebook controversy.

The issue of data privacy goes further back – as does a seeming unwillingness to resolve it. Failure to comply with US FTC edict related to data privacy issued in 2012 saw Facebook fined $5 billion in 2019.

For many organisations this would by the kiss of death. Not Facebook, which continues apace, counting a user base that adds up to around a third of the world’s population. This is perhaps even more impressive when we take into account that the app is banned in the world’s biggest and most-populous app market, China.

Not so in the world’s second-most populous nation, India, where 320 million Facebook users (over 10% of the global user base) can be found – making it by far the world’s biggest Facebook market.

Facebook’s huge reach has helped it become one of the world’s leading marketing and advertising platforms. No more so than in its domestic market; Facebook claimed around a quarter of US digital ad revenue in 2020. The money, therefore, keeps rolling on in, with 2020 representing a record year in revenue an profit alike. Both figures could compared to the economies of small countries.

At the time of writing (April 2020), Facebook was closing in on a $1 trillion valuation, which invites comparisons with the economies of bigger, richer countries.

Because no matter how much trouble Facebook seems to get in for corrupting our politics, or how much we hear about users flocking away from it through boredom, the first great titan of the social media age has looked something close to impervious. And unless politicians carry out their threats to break up Facebook from WhatsApp and Instagram, it may well stay that way…

That just about sets the scene. If you’re ready to see our collection of Facebook stats, read on. After a run down of key Facebook stats, we’ll be covering Facebook users (including user demographics), Facebook usage (why people use Facebook and how much, plus some Facebook content statistics), Facebook controversies (from fake news to problem users), Facebook marketing and advertising (covering CPC, CPM, CPA, etc.), and finally Facebook revenue (also covering profit/loss).

We’ll start, as ever, with a rundown of key Facebook stats, all of which you’ll find represented visually further down in the piece.

Facebook Overview and Key Statistics

HQMenlo Park, California
Key PeopleMark Zuckerberg (CEO, founder), Sheryl Sandberg (COO)
Company typePublic (NASDAQ:FB)
IPO date18 May 2012
  • 2.8 billion monthly active Facebook users by the end of 2020 (Facebook)
  • 1.8 billion of Facebook users (66%) use the app on a daily basis (Facebook)
  • Asia Pacific is home to the largest share of Facebook users (43%), followed by the rest of world (Latin America and Africa, 33%), then Europe (15%) and US and Canada (9%) (Facebook)
  • India (320 million), the US (190 million), and Indonesia (140 million) are the countries with most Facebook users (Hootsuite/We Are Social)
  • Globally, Facebook users are estimated to be 43% female and 57% male (Hootsuite/We Are Social)
  • More than half of global Facebook users are aged 18-24 (23.8%) or 25-34 (31.6%) (Hootsuite/We Are Social)
  • 69% of US adults have used Facebook at some point (Pew Research Center)
  • 42% of US teens use Facebook, but only 2% would choose it as their favourite app (Piper Sandler)
  • Facebook generated $86 billion of revenue in 2020 ($29 billion net), up from $71 billion in 2019 ($18 billion net), and $56 billion ($22 billion) in 2018 (Facebook)
  • Facebook was estimated to have won 23.5% of US digital ad revenue over 2020 (eMarketer)

Key Facebook User Statistics

Total Facebook users

QuarterMonthly active users, millions
Q1 2010431
Q2 2010482
Q3 2010550
Q4 2010608
Q1 2011680
Q2 2011739
Q3 2011800
Q4 2011845
Q1 2012901
Q2 2012955
Q3 20121007
Q4 20121056
Q1 20131110
Q2 20131155
Q3 20131189
Q4 20131228
Q1 20141276
Q2 20141317
Q3 20141350
Q4 20141393
Q1 20151441
Q2 20151490
Q3 20151545
Q4 20151591
Q1 20161654
Q2 20161712
Q3 20161788
Q4 20161860
Q1 20171936
Q2 20172006
Q3 20172072
Q4 20172129
Q1 20182196
Q2 20182234
Q3 20182271
Q4 20182320
Q1 20192375
Q2 20192414
Q3 20192449
Q4 20192498
Q1 20202603
Q2 20202701
Q3 20202740
Q4 20202797

Source: Facebook

Daily Facebook users

QuarterDaily active users, millions
Q1 2011372
Q2 2011417
Q3 2011457
Q4 2011483
Q1 2012526
Q2 2012552
Q3 2012584
Q4 2012618
Q1 2013665
Q2 2013699
Q3 2013728
Q4 2013757
Q1 2014802
Q2 2014829
Q3 2014864
Q4 2014890
Q1 2015936
Q2 2015968
Q3 20151007
Q4 20151038
Q1 20161090
Q2 20161128
Q3 20161179
Q4 20161227
Q1 20171284
Q2 20171325
Q3 20171368
Q4 20171401
Q1 20181449
Q2 20181471
Q3 20181495
Q4 20181523
Q1 20191562
Q2 20191587
Q3 20191623
Q4 20191657
Q1 20201734
Q2 20201785
Q3 20201820
Q4 20201845

Source: Facebook

Facebook.com monthly traffic

MonthTraffic, billions
Oct 2026.1
Nov 2025.5
Dec 2025.3
Jan 2123.1
Feb 2120.3

Source: SimilarWeb

Facebook downloads by year

YearDownloads, millions

Source: SensorTower

Facebook users by region, millions

QuarterUS & CanadaEuropeAsia PacificRest of World
Q1 2017234354716632
Q2 2017236360756654
Q3 2017239364794675
Q4 2017239370828692
Q1 2018241377873705
Q2 2018241376894723
Q3 2018242375917736
Q4 2018242381947750
Q1 2019243384981768
Q2 20192443851003782
Q3 20192473871013802
Q4 20192483941038817
Q1 20202534061093851
Q2 20202564101142892
Q3 20202554131166906
Q4 20202584191199921

Source: Facebook

Facebook daily users by region, millions

QuarterUS & CanadaEuropeAsia PacificRest of World
Q1 2017182267427408
Q2 2017183271453419
Q3 2017185274476433
Q4 2017184277499441
Q1 2018185282529453
Q2 2018185279546461
Q3 2018185278561470
Q4 2018186282577478
Q1 2019186286600490
Q2 2019187286615499
Q3 2019189288627519
Q4 2019190294641532
Q1 2020195305678556
Q2 2020198305699583
Q3 2020196305727593
Q4 2020195308744598

Source: Facebook

Facebook users proportionally by region*
RegionProportion usersProportion daily users
US & Canada9%11%
Asia Pacific43%40%
Rest of World33%32%

*as of Q4 2020

Source: Facebook

Facebook users by country

CountryUsers, millions

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Top global cities for Facebook users

CityFacebook users in city, millions+ Urban area users*, millions
Mexico City127
Ho Chi Minh City115
São Paulo105

*40 km beyond city limits

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Top languages on Facebook

LanguageSpeakers, millionsPercentage of users

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Facebook users by age and gender

All ages43.2%56.8%

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Percentage of US adults using Facebook

DatePercentage using Facebook

Source: Pew Research Center

US Facebook usage among demographic groups

Demographic categoryDemographicPercentage using Facebook
Household income<$30,00069%
$30,000 – $74,99972%
EducationHigh school or less71%
Some College75%

Source: Pew Research Center

US social media users who use Facebook more than other apps, by age

YearOverall 12-3435-5455+

Source: Edison Research

US teens engaging with Facebook

SeasonUS teens engaging with Facebook
Fall 201931%
Spring 202034%
Fall 202028%

Source: Piper Sandler

US teens choosing Facebook as favourite social app

SeasonUS teens who prefer Facebook
Fall 201242%
Spring 201333%
Fall 201327%
Spring 201423%
Spring 201512%
Fall 201513%
Spring 201615%
Fall 201613%
Spring 201711%
Fall 20179%
Spring 20188%
Fall 20186%
Spring 20196%
Fall 20193%
Spring 20204%
Fall 20202%

Source: Piper Sandler

Most-liked Facebook pages

PageLikes, millions
Facebook App209
Cristiano Ronaldo125
Real Madrid CF111
Will Smith105
Vin Diesel105
China Daily103
FC Barcelona103
Leo Messi102
China Xinhua News89
People’s Daily, China86
Mr Bean86

Source: SocialBlade

Key Facebook Usage Statistics

Average Facebook sessions*

SourceTime on sitePages visited

*SimilarWeb stats, September 2020 to February 2021, time and pages per session; Alexa stats January to March 2021, daily visits and pages

Source: SimilarWeb/Alexa

Frequency of Facebook usage, US users, Edison

Frequency of usagePercentage of users

Source: Edison Research

Frequency of Facebook usage, US users, Edison

FrequencyProportion of users

Source: Pew Research Center

Facebook devices

Device(s) used to access FacebookPercentage of users
Desktop only1.7%
Mobile and Desktop17.3%
Mobile only81%

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Facebook operating systems

Operating system used to access FacebookPercentage of users

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Facebook user activities, vs other apps*

Viewing photos65%77%64%59%42%
Watching videos46%51%50%21%32%
Sharing content with everyone57%45%46%21%32%
Sharing content one-on-one43%31%45%12%20%
Finding/shopping for products15%11%5%47%7%
Promoting my business7%9%6%5%7%

*Percentage of social media users using app for purpose

Source: Cowen and Company via eMarketer

Average frequency of Facebook interactions

Activity 30-day averageMale usersFemale users
Pages liked*111
Posts liked111012
Ads clicked11914


Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Facebook user activity by age and gender

AgeFemale users’ 30-day medianMale users’ 30-day median

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Facebook monthly ad clicks by age and gender


Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Facebook page content types

Content typePercentage of posts

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Facebook page engagement by content type

Content typePost engagement rate

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Facebook page post engagement by follower count

Follower countEngagement rate

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Use of Facebook as a news source in select markets

CountryPercentage news users*Percentage overall users*
South Africa57%79%
South Korea19%43%

*Percentage of overall internet users

Source: Reuters

US Facebook news usage among demographic groups

Demographic categoryDemographicUsing Facebook for news
EducationHigh school or less39%
Some College32%
Political leaningRepublican46%

Source: Journalism.org

Facebook Gaming hours watched by quarter
QuarterHours watched, millions
Q1 2019165
Q2 2019198
Q3 2019269
Q4 2019460
Q1 2020554
Q2 2020830
Q3 2020815
Q4 2020901

Source: Streamlab/Stream Hatchet

Facebook Gaming hours viewed 2020 market share


Source: Streamlab/Stream Hatchet

Facebook Gaming hours streamed by quarter

QuarterHours streamed, millions
Q1 20192
Q2 20192
Q3 20193
Q4 20194
Q1 20205
Q2 20206
Q3 20208
Q4 202015

Source: Streamlab/Stream Hatchet

Facebook Gaming hours streamed 2020 market share


Source: Streamlab/Stream Hatchet

Facebook Gaming, average concurrent viewers vs rivals, thousands

Q1 201980330130040
Q2 201990340130050
Q3 2019120320130050
Q4 2019210430120040
Q1 2020210500140040
Q2 2020260700230050
Q3 20203707602100
Q4 20204108702500

Source: Streamlab/Stream Hatchet

Facebook Gaming, total unique channels vs rivals, thousands

Q1 201920230069004500
Q2 201940210056004100
Q3 20197080044004300
Q4 201910080046003900
Q1 202013090061004000
Q2 20202101100103005000
Q3 202027090010600

Source: Streamlab/Stream Hatchet

Facebook use for marketing vs other platforms
PlatformPercentage marketers using

Source: Social Media Examiner

Marketers’ most important platform, Facebook vs rivals

PlatformPercentage of marketers
Messenger Bots1%

Source: Social Media Examiner

Ad platforms used by markers, Facebook vs rivals

PlatformPercentage buying ads
Don’t use26%

Source: Social Media Examiner

Marketers’ plans for Facebook activities, percentage of total

Plans related to activityOrganic VideoAds
No plans to use3%11%16%

Source: Social Media Examiner

Facebook percentage of social referrals vs other platforms

PlatformQ1 2019Q2 2019Q3 2019Q4 2019Q1 2020

Source: eMarketer

Facebook 2020 ad revenue vs similar companies

CompanyAd sales, USD billion

*total revenue estimate

Source: Companies, except ByteDance (The Information) and Alibaba (eMarketer estimate)

Facebook share of US ad revenue 2020 vs key rivals

Company Estimated share of 2020 US ad revenue

Source: eMarketer

Facebook average cost per click/like/install by year

YearPer click, USDPer like, USDPer app install, USD

Source: AdEspresso

Facebook 2020 average CPC by campaign objective

ObjectiveQ1 2020 CPC, USDQ2 2020 CPC, USDQ3 2020 CPC, USD
Lead gen0.580.670.67
Link clicks0.160.140.16

Source: AdEspresso

Key Facebook Revenue Statistics

Facebook revenue by quarter

Facebook revenue, USD millions
Q2 20121184
Q3 20121262
Q4 20121585
Q1 20131458
Q2 20131813
Q3 20132016
Q4 20132585
Q1 20142502
Q2 20142910
Q3 20143203
Q4 20143851
Q1 20153543
Q2 20154041
Q3 20154501
Q4 20155841
Q1 20165382
Q2 20166436
Q3 20167011
Q4 20168809
Q1 20178032
Q2 20179321
Q3 201710328
Q4 201712972
Q1 201811966
Q2 201813231
Q3 201813727
Q4 201816914
Q1 201915077
Q2 201916886
Q3 201917652
Q4 201921082
Q1 202017737
Q2 202018687
Q3 202021470
Q4 202028072

Source: Facebook

Facebook annual revenue

Facebook revenue, USD millions

Source: Facebook

Facebook ad revenue by quarter

QuarterFacebook ad revenue, USD millions
Q2 2012992
Q3 20121086
Q4 20121329
Q1 20131245
Q2 20131599
Q3 20131798
Q4 20132344
Q1 20142265
Q2 20142676
Q3 20142957
Q4 20143594
Q1 20153317
Q2 20153827
Q3 20154299
Q4 20155637
Q1 20165201
Q2 20166239
Q3 20166816
Q4 20168629
Q1 20177857
Q2 20179164
Q3 201710142
Q4 201712779
Q1 201811795
Q2 201813038
Q3 201813539
Q4 201816640
Q1 201914912
Q2 201916624
Q3 201917383
Q4 201920736
Q1 202017440
Q2 202018321
Q3 202021221
Q4 202027187

Source: Facebook

Facebook annual ad revenue, USD millions

YearFacebook ad revenue, USD millions

Source: Facebook

Facebook advertising revenue by region, USD millions

QuarterUS & CanadaEuropeAsia-PacificRest of World
Q1 20151709960531394
Q2 20151592855524346
Q3 20151826987605409
Q4 201521201041694444
Q1 201628471413833544
Q2 201626151270849467
Q3 2016307715451009608
Q4 2016443520251337832
Q1 2017385118691361776
Q2 2017445022091558947
Q3 20174912243417491047
Q4 20176271319620481264
Q1 20185559299220801164
Q2 20186137324722971357
Q3 20186547326624061320
Q4 20188246408727421565
Q1 20197203360926701430
Q2 20197952404329851644
Q3 20198317405732431766
Q4 201910021507136422002
Q1 20208379417132361654
Q2 20209059441133121539
Q3 20209988505142021980
Q4 202013150682247032512

Source: Facebook

Facebook net revenue by quarter, USD millions

QuarterFacebook net revenue, USD millions
Q2 2012-157
Q3 2012-59
Q4 201264
Q1 2013219
Q2 2013333
Q3 2013425
Q4 2013523
Q1 2014642
Q2 2014791
Q3 2014806
Q4 2014701
Q1 2015512
Q2 2015719
Q3 2015896
Q4 20151562
Q1 20161738
Q2 20162283
Q3 20162627
Q4 20163568
Q1 20173064
Q2 20173894
Q3 20174707
Q4 20174268
Q1 20184988
Q2 20185106
Q3 20185137
Q4 20186882
Q1 20192429
Q2 20192616
Q3 20196091
Q4 20197349
Q1 20204902
Q2 20205178
Q3 20207846
Q4 202011219

Source: Facebook

Facebook annual net revenue, USD millions

YearFacebook net revenue, USD millions

Source: Facebook

Facebook ARPU by region, USD

GlobalUS & CanadaEuropeAsia-PacificRest of World
Q1 20174.144.2316.5617.075.325.421.961.981.251.27
Q2 20174.654.7318.9319.386.
Q3 20174.975.0720.6921.26.726.852.262.271.581.59
Q4 20176.086.1826.2626.768.718.862.522.541.851.86
Q1 20185.455.5323.1423.598.018.122.452.461.671.68
Q2 20185.895.9725.4325.918.628.762.62.621.91.91
Q3 20186.016.0927.1127.618.698.822.662.671.811.82
Q4 20187.257.3734.0934.8610.8210.982.942.962.112.11
Q1 20196.356.4229.6930.129.459.552.772.781.881.89
Q2 20196.947.0532.633.2710.5210.
Q3 20197.157.2633.8634.5510.5110.683.
Q4 20198.388.5240.541.4112.9913.213.553.572.472.48
Q1 20206.846.9533.4534.1810.4310.643.043.061.981.99
Q2 20206.917.0535.5836.4910.8111.032.962.991.771.78
Q3 20207.87.8939.0439.6312.2812.413.643.672.22.22
Q4 20209.8210.1451.2853.5616.4116.873.984.052.752.77

Source: Facebook

Facebook market cap

DateFacebook market cap, USD billions

Source: Macrotrends

Other Key Facebook Statistics

  • 66% of monthly active Facebook users use the app daily (Facebook)
  • Facebook is used by 59% of global social media users (eMarketer)
  • As of March 2021, Facebook ranks 7 on Alexa and 3 on SimilarWeb for global traffic and engagement (SimilarWeb/Alexa)
  • 11% of Facebook accounts are duplicates and 5% to be fake (Facebook via Statista)
  • 69% of US adults have used Facebook, though only 51% of teens (Pew Research Center)
  • 93% awareness of Facebook in US population aged 12+ (Edison Research)
  • US Facebook users are relatively evenly split along political lines (34% liberal, 35% conservative, 29% ‘moderate’) – though a proportion of each bracket does not feel it has been fairly categorised (Pew Research Center)
  • In India, the gender split in Facebook users is particularly pronounced: Facebook users are 76% male to 24% female (NapoleonCat)
  • Average number of Facebook friends in the US was 338 in 2014 (no more recent comparable stat available) (Pew Research Center)
  • A 2016 UK study found an average of 155 Facebook friends (The Telegraph)
  • The average Facebook user is 3.57 degrees of separation from any other (Facebook)
  • 1.8 billion Facebook users use groups every month; over 10 million groups exist (Facebook)
  • The average US user uses Facebook for 37 minutes per day (eMarketer)
  • 15% of Facebook users use the app to shop, with 800 million monthly users of Facebook Marketplace (Facebook via TechCrunch)
  • 1.5 billion matches on Facebook Dating, as of October 2020 (Facebook)
  • Brands post an average of 2.37 posts per day (Hootsuite/We Are Social)
  • Facebook users watch 100 million hours of video content on Facebook per day (Facebook via TechCrunch)
  • 36% of US Americans use Facebook as news source, or 54% of Facebook users (Journalism.org)
  • In May 2019, 120 million fake active Facebook accounts were identified (Facebook via HuffPo)
  • Between April and September 2019, 3.2 billion fake Facebook accounts were removed before becoming active (Facebook via CBS)
  • 4.2 billion pieces of spam content removed by Facebook over 2020 (Facebook via Statista)
  • 50 prominent fake news stories were shared, commented, and reacted to 22 million times on Facebook in 2018 (BuzzFeed)
  • 50% of Indians were exposed to fake news on Facebook or WhatsApp in the run-up to the 2019 general election (Economic Times)
  • 3.1% of US Facebook users identify themselves as problem users (i.e. Facebook affects their lives negatively, and they could not control their usage levels) (Facebook)
  • There are 90 million business pages on Facebook (2018), with 160 million businesses using Facebook each month (2020) (Facebook)
  • 85% of US businesses have used Facebook as a marketing platform since 2016 (eMarketer)
  • 80.4% of social referrals to ecommerce sites come through Facebook (eMarketer)
  • There are 7 million active advertisers on Facebook (Facebook)
  • Over 50% of US Facebook users have at least 10 interests listed on Facebook (Pew Research Center)
  • Average Facebook ad CTR estimates range from 0.14% to 1.45% (dependent on ad placement as well as data source) (Ad Stage)
  • Average Facebook ad CPC estimates range from $0.02 to $1.68 (Metricool/Wordstream)
  • Average Facebook ad CVR estimates stand at 9.11% (Wordstream)
  • Average Facebook CPA estimates stand at $19.68 (for commercial goals; app installs be as low as $0.60) (Wordstream)
  • Median Facebook ad CPM estimates range from $2.08 for right-hand column ads to $8.19 for newsfeed ads (Ad Stage)

Facebook User Statistics

As of the end of 2020, total monthly active Facebook users numbered 2.8 billion, making it comfortably the world’s largest social media platform. To give this a bit of perspective, this is double the population of China. Or over one third of the entire global population. 59% of global social media users are on Facebook, it is estimated.

(Facebook notes that its official figures do not include WhatsApp or Instagram users who don’t use Facebook; they do not mention Facebook Messenger, so this figure may well include Messenger users who do not use actively use Facebook proper).

The amazing thing is that this figure continues to rise. A year prior, in Q4 2019, the figure stood at 2.5 billion, 2.3 billion a year before then. According to Ahrefs, Facebook was the number two search term globally as of January 2021. People, it seems, are clearly still interested in finding their way onto Facebook.

After WhatsApp, it was the most-used mobile app in this same period, according to the same source. And after another stablemate, Facebook Messenger, it was the most-downloaded app.

We hardly need to discuss the rapidity of Facebook user growth in the early days, though it is no less of an extraordinary phenomenon for being much-discussed.

We saw 100 million Facebook users (MAUs) in Q3 2008 nearly double within six months (197 million in Q1 2009). By Q3 2010, two years after this initial point, we were up to 550 million Facebook users, which had duly doubled to 1 billion by Q3 2012.

By the end of 2014, if it were a country, Facebook would have become the world’s most populous, logging 1.39 billion active users in Q4 of that year, versus China’s (then) population of 1.37 billion. The 2 billion active user mark was crossed in Q2 2017.

Total Facebook users, Q1 2020 – Q4 2020, millions

Total Facebook users to Q4 2020

Data source: Facebook

As we can see below, it is 450 million ahead of YouTube, which is the only thing that comes anywhere near it in terms of active user base (the below stats refer to Facebook’s Q3 2020 user base). We might also note that in third and fourth place we find WhatsApp (2 billion users) and Facebook Messenger (1.3 billion).

Ostensibly rivals for the accolade of biggest messenger apps, both are ultimately part of the same Facebook stable. The fourth member, Instagram, is in fifth position (1.2 billion), though these stats count TikTok and Douyin as separate entities.

If you needed quantification of Facebook’s somewhat terrifying hold over the way we communicate in the 21st century, there you have it.

Facebook users vs. other social media, January 2021           

Facebook users vs. other social media, January 2021           

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Facebook reveals daily active user figures in its quarterly statements. In Q4 2020, this figure came to 1.8 billion, up from 1.7 billion a year prior, and 1.5 billion a year in Q4 2018. In percentage terms, this means that a rather stunning 66% of Facebook users around the world use the app every single day. This figure has remained consistent for some years.

Below, we can see that DAU have been growing at what can fairly be described as an even rate since 2011.

Facebook daily users, Q1 2011 – Q4 2020, millions

Facebook daily active users to Q4 2020Data source: Facebook

SimilarWeb Facebook stats pertaining to desktop and mobile web traffic show Facebook was visited over 20 billion times in each of the six months between October 2020 and February 2021, though with a downward trend at the end of this period.

Facebook ranks third for global traffic, behind only Google and YouTube according to these stats. Alexa stats looking at traffic and engagement place it seventh, with Chinese big hitters such as Baidu and QQ occupying the spaces in between.

Facebook web traffic, October 2020 – February 2021, billions

Facebook web traffic, October 2020 - February 2021Data source: SimilarWeb

Facebook’s mighty grip over the internet is further exemplified by the case of Facebook Stories. We’ve heard a lot about Instagram Stories, and how it left the likes of Snapchat for dead in terms of overall user numbers. W­ell, the far-less discussed, and less glamorous Facebook Stories (on a medium more associated with quotidian banality than jetsetting opulence), counts no fewer than 500 million daily users. This puts it on a level with its much more widely-discussed stablemate. We might note Facebook’s WhatsApp Stories.

Facebook Stories daily active users vs. other Stories apps

Facebook Stories daily active users

Source: Techcrunch

According to Sensor Tower data, Facebook was the third most-downloaded app globally in 2020 taking both App Store and Google Play download stats into account. It was downloaded nearly 1 billion times, driven by the pandemic.

It was fourth in 2019 and third in 2018 with around 700 million annual downloads in each year. 2020 represents a strong recovery after a slight slowdown in 2019.

This consistent positioning chimes with the continued growth in Facebook users we discussed above. Downloads are driven chiefly by Android, with Facebook not tending to factor as highly in the iOS charts (possibly related to Facebook’s status as a primary app in emerging markets, seeing it preloaded onto feature phones for example.

Facebook downloads by year, millions

facebook downloads by year

Data source: SensorTower

Facebook was the most-used mobile app in the world over Q4 2020, according to Hootsuite/We Are Social data – and the second most downloaded.

Facebook users by geography

Facebook’s status as a global app is evident in the spread of users across geographies. Over 100 languages are used on the platform. The largest concentration of users can be found in Asia, in which nearly 1.2 billion Facebook users were located in Q4 2020. This is followed by the rest of the world (Latin America presumably accounting for the greatest share of Facebook users), at 921 million, with Europe (419 million) and the US & Canada (258 million), accounting for a relatively small share of Facebook users in comparison.

Looking back over the past couple of years, we can see the most rapid growth has occurred in Asia, followed by the rest of the world, while the US & Canada and Europe have seen slower growth (albeit the user base is growing, despite a period of stagnation in 2018, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal). Bearing in mind the high levels of penetration we already see in these two regions, this is to be expected, as there will come a point when increasing user numbers is simply just not possible.

Facebook users by region, Q1 2017 – Q4 2020, millions

Facebook users by region, Q1 2017 - Q4 2020Data source: Facebook

In percentage terms, that’s 9% in the US & Canada, 15% in Europe, 43% in Asia, and 33% in the rest of the world. And if you’re interested in how that plays out in terms of penetration, that’s equal to 72% of the population of the US & Canada and 56% of the population of Europe.

Asia Pacific and the rest of the world are perhaps too diverse and vaguely defined regions for this to be an edifying comparison.

Facebook users by region, proportionally, Q4 2020

facebook users by region, proportionally

Data source: Facebook

Looking at Facebook MAU doesn’t tell the whole story, however. If we cast our eyes to daily active users, we see that the regularity of usage is a little bit higher in more mature markets. 75% of North American Facebook users use the app on a daily basis, as do 74% of European Facebook users.

This compares to 62% of Asia Pacific Facebook users, and 65% from the rest of the world. Despite this relative disparity, it is once again clear that Facebook is a part of the daily lives of people all over the world.

Facebook daily users by region, Q1 2017 – Q4 2020, millions

Facebook daily users by region, Q1 2017 - Q4 2020

Data source: Facebook

This is reflected in the proportions, with the US & Canada (11%) and Europe (17%) accounting for a slightly higher proportion of daily than overall Facebook users, and vice versa for Asia Pacific (40%) and the rest of the world (32%).

Facebook daily users by region, proportionally, Q4 2020

Facebook daily users by region, proportionally, Q4 2020

Data source: Facebook

The largest concentration of Facebook users can be found in the world’s second-most populous nation, India (predicted to be very much the most-populous in the not too distant future). It holds this position by some distance, with it’s 320 million Facebook users 130 million ahead of second place US (190 million)

India manages this substantial lead despite the fact it has lowest Facebook user penetration in the top-10 (30%). This compares to a global average of 36%. These figures pertain to ‘advertising audience’ aged 13+, with a disclaimer from Hootsuite/We Are Social that the figures may not represent unique individuals.

In the wider top-20, only Bangladesh (26%, 2019 figure), Pakistan (20%, 2019 figure), and Nigeria (23%) have equal or lower user penetration. We can connect this to relatively low levels of connectivity in India; as this increases, perhaps we will see the number of Facebook users in India – and resultantly the world – continue to climb. As of January 2021, Facebook was the second-most popular website in the country, used by 76% of internet users aged 16-64.

Facebook’s global ubiquity is reflected in the presence of many of the world’s most-populous nations in the top-10 nations by number of Facebook users. Aside from the obvious presence of the US in second place, we also see the likes of Indonesia (140 million), Brazil (130 million), and Mexico (93 million). China is the only glaring absence from this list, which is of course due to Facebook’s being blocked there.

Facebook’s global reach is also reflected in the fact that every continent is represented in the top-20, with the exception of Oceania. Though we might note that with a population of 26 million, Australia would not even make the top-20 if every single person living in the country was a Facebook-using adult.

With the exception of India, we see penetration levels of above 50% throughout the top-10, peaking at 100% in the Philippines (remember the above disclaimer, however). In small advanced nations like Iceland, Malta, and the UAE we see penetration levels of over 90%.

Facebook users by country, Q4 2020, millions

Facebook users by country, millions: Top-20, Q4 2020

Data source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

If we shift our focus to cities (allowing for the fact that cities are often hard to define, so this is an approximate list), we find the highest number of users in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. There are 17 million Facebook users, with a further 3 million within a 40 mile radius.

Mumbai, with 16 million + 2 is next, followed by Delhi on 13 million plus + 6. This top-10 list is dominated by megacities in the global south, with representatives from Africa/Middle East (Cairo, with 13 million + 6), Latin America (Mexico City leads the way on 12 million + 7, and Southeast Asia (Ho Chi Minh City, on 11 million + 5 million).

South Asia is the most represented region, with Pakistan’s Karachi (12 million) joining the aforementioned trio of subcontinental cities.

Top-10 global cities for Facebook users, millions of users

top-10 cities for facebook users

Data source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

The most-commonly used language on Facebook is English by some way, with 1.1 billion users using the world’s most-spoken language (most likely including a fair proportion of the South Asian users in the above lists).

Spanish is second on 340 million, for obvious reasons, followed by Hindi on 180 million, for similarly obvious reasons.

After we pass the big intercontinental languages, like Arabic (160 million), Portuguese (150 million), and French (120 million), we get into more localised languages, which at this stage reflect population size.

The foremost of these is Indonesian, on 150 million (ahead of French, level with Portuguese), followed by Filipino (75 million, arguably intercontinental by virtue of the nation’s large diaspora), and Vietnamese (72 million).

Top languages on Facebook, millions of users

Top languages on Facebook, millions of users

Data source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Facebook user demographics

The below statistics refer to the advertising audience rather than the total spread of monthly active Facebook users, but hopefully give us a fairly accurate representation on Facebook user demographics.

43% of the Facebook user base are female, according to Hootsuite/We Are Social, the remaining 57% male (these Facebook stats only cover a binary split for now).

In terms of age we find the highest proportion of Facebook users in the 18-24 and 25-34 brackets. This is pretty typical for social media – though certainly runs somewhat contrary to widely held sentiments that Facebook is primarily the preserve of older generations in the age of Instagram and Snapchat.

We might note, however, that the higher concentration is in the older of these two age demographics, with just under a third of Facebook users aged 25-34 (32%). Nearly a quarter are aged 18-24 (24%). Both bands taken together account for comfortably over 50%

Beyond these two, there is a bit more of a spread than with some of the most youth-orientated apps. According to these Facebook user statistics, we see a further 27% of Facebook users falling into the two age brackets which cover those aged 35-54. 11% are aged 55+.

In every age demographic up to age 54 we see a greater preponderance of male to female users. This is generally the pattern we observe in apps which enjoy global reach, no doubt the consequence of deeply ingrained gender power imbalances across the world rather than any sort of gendered quality in the app itself.

Among the oldest demographics of Facebook users, we begin to see slightly more female than male users.

Facebook users by age and gender, percentage of total

Facebook users by age and gender, percentage of totalData source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

US Facebook user demographics

According to 2019 Pew Research Center Facebook stats, 69% of US adults said they have used Facebook. Only YouTube has a higher level of penetration, at 73%. As of April 2021, these were the most recent figures. The percentage has even increased very slightly since 2018, when it stood at 68%.

We see stronger growth in the years preceding this, with penetration of 54% in 2012 increasing to 68% in 2016. Edison Trends data show 93% of US Americans aged 12+ were aware of Facebook. Even if they aren’t users, there’s no escaping the blue giant of social media.

Facebook users in the US, percentage of US adults

Facebook users in the US, percentage of US adults

Data source: Pew Research Center

Demographic differences among US Facebook users are less pronounced, given its ubiquity. While other apps don’t tend to be used as much by rural users as by suburban or especially urban users, the range here goes from 66% (rural) to 73% (urban), for example.

Level of education sees a more pronounced difference, though 61% of those with high school diplomas or less use Facebook. This compares to three quarters of those with higher levels of educational attainment. The gap is far less pronounced than we see for other apps.

Interestingly we see a very small percentage more who report being Facebook users in the ‘some college’ bracket than in ‘college+’. The only other app for which this is the case is the youth-orientated Snapchat, where the prevalence of Facebook usage in this age bracket can probably be explained by its popularity among those who are currently at college.

In terms of household income, again we see Facebook usage at lower income brackets at a level not far below the highest; 69%, compared to 74%. In no other app do we see a gap this small: both in absolute terms as well as proportional ones (Snapchat’s gap is the same, albeit reversed for the aforementioned reasons, and therefore an outlier).

The US runs counter to global trends in terms of the gender split, with more women than men using the app. It’s not the widest gap (that would be Pinterest, used by 42% of women and 15% of men). It is interesting, however, in that it is one of the most pronounced trends we see in this Facebook data; only educational attainment is a clearer indicator if an American is likely to be a Facebook user or not.

Well, that is discounting the 65+ age bracket, taking for granted they are not active app users. That said, at 46%, the percentage of US over-65s who use Facebook is significantly higher than any other app. YouTube runs it the closest, at 38% usage among this age demographic.

We don’t see much disparity between the brackets below, with Facebook usage levels exactly the same in the 18-29 and the 30-49 brackets. If we were to split the younger demographic into two, we might note that 25-29 year olds are keener users than 18-24 year olds.

We have not included it below, but Pew Research Center data also shows pretty identical Facebook usage between the different ethnic/racial groups it considers (a relatively limited list).

What percentage of each demographic uses Facebook in the US?

What percentage of each demographic uses Facebook in the US?Data source: Pew Research Center

Edison Research’s annual Infinite Dial report asks US social media users which app they use the most. Here, we see that Facebook has lost market share since 2015, when 65% of social media users used the app more than any other. By 2021, the proportion had dropped to 47% – the first time it dropped below 50%.

Th drop off is most pronounced among users aged 12-34, where the proportion dropped abruptly in 2019 to 29% from 57% in 2018, and has gradually trailed off since, to 21% in 2021. Competition from the likes of Facebook’s own Instagram and particularly TikTok is likely to have accounted for this.

Facebook has proved more resilient among older demographics. 60% of those aged 35-54, and 70% of those aged 55+ still chose Facebook as their most-used app in 2021. Both have seen declines since 2016, however (one fifth and one tenth respectively).

US social media users who use Facebook more than other apps by age, percent

Data source: Edison Research

Shifting our focus to younger users, namely Piper Sandler’s biannual research on teens, we see that Facebook is increasing unfashionable. The fall 2020 edition found that only 28% of US teens had used Facebook at all in the month prior. We had seen a small recovery in spring 2020 to 34%, but it seems clear the long-term trend in downwards, unless something big changes.

Percentage of US teens engaging with Facebook

US teens engaging with Facebook

Data Source: Piper Sandler

These stats also cover which app teens choose as their favourite. We have Facebook stats for this metric dating much further back, and they show a pretty dire trend. Way back in 2012, 42% of US teens chose Facebook as their favourite app. Three years later, the figure was down to 12%.

A small recovery in 2016 was followed by what looks like a terminal decline, with a record low of 2% recorded in fall 2020. Since 2012, Facebook has been superseded by number of apps including Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok.

We might also recall that teens of 2012 will have superseded by others. The oldest teens from 2012 are now into their mid-20s. The youngest teens from 2021 will have been 5 at the start of this period. At some point, Millennials will have given way to Gen Z. And Gen Z doesn’t use Facebook.

Percentage of US teens electing Facebook as their favourite app

Percentage of US teens engaging with Facebook

Data Source: Piper Sandler

Pew Research Facebook stats from 2018 found only 51% of US teens used the app, with only 10% saying that it is the platform they use the most.

This compares to 85% usage of YouTube, and the 35% who choose Snapchat as their most-used platform.

Most popular social media platforms among US teens in 2019?

Most popular social media platforms among US teens in 2019?

Data source: Pew Research Center

eMarketer Facebook stats from later in 2019 give even lower figures for Facebook users in this demographic, finding that 41% of US teens used Facebook. It predicts the figure will get even lower, dropping to 37% by 2022.

On the opposite end of the age scale, however, we will see growth, with eMarketer forecasting 7% growth in the 65+ bracket. This is due in part to this demographic affording the greatest scope for growth, due to saturation in other younger brackets.

51% of US Facebook users are given a political label, based on what they have listed as their interests. Nearly three quarters of these users believe that the political label they have been given is accurate. The remaining 27%, however, do not feel they are accurately labelled politically by Facebook; 9% claiming the label is not the least bit accurate.

US users’ political labels Facebook

US users’ political labels Facebook

Source: Pew Research Center

According to these same Pew Research Center Facebook stats, of the 51% of Facebook users given a political assignation by the platform, 34% are labelled liberal, 35% conservative, and 29% ‘moderate’. 20% of liberals, 25% of conservatives, and 36% of moderates do not feel they have been correctly placed on this scale.

A deal struck by Facebook and Washington State Attorney General in 2018 determined that advertisers could not exclude users according to race, religion, sexual orientation or any other protected class.

Facebook users can be given affinity designations, however – around 21% of users are. Of these, 43% are deemed to be interested in African American culture, a further 43% in Hispanic culture, and around 10% in Asian American culture. These are the only such affinities available on Facebook.

Of those labelled as having such an affinity by Facebook, 60% say they have a strong affinity with their assigned group, with 37% saying they do not. 57% of those assigned to any given group consider themselves to be members of said group, while 39% say they are not members of the group.

Facebook demographics: rest of the world

In India, home of the world’s largest population of Facebook users, demographics skew strongly (shockingly) male. Over three quarters of the Facebook user base in the country are men, according to Facebook stats published on NapoleonCat. We can most likely ascribe this to the relatively slow pace of the move towards gender equality in the nation, rather than anything more behaviourally profound.

This ratio holds more or less across every one of the age groups included in this set of Facebook stats. In terms of age groups, we see a reflection of the global picture. Users are concentrated in the 18-24 and the 25-34 age brackets (with a slight weighting towards the latter).

The data seems to be split into the same age brackets as the Hootsuite/We Are Social data we’ve used elsewhere. The original source is unclear, however, so this is the best clue we have.

Facebook India demographics: age and gender

Facebook India demographics: age and gender, December 2019

Source: NapoleonCat

Moving to the third-biggest market, the world’s fourth most-populous nation Indonesia, we see a less pronounced split between the genders.

The gender split seems to be most-pronounced in the 25-34 year old bracket, which as in other nations is the largest, followed by 18-24. These two age categories account for around two thirds of Facebook users in the country. Facebook usage drops off rather sharply in older categories.

We might expect a correction of the gender split in the not-too-distant future, with female users outnumbering male among teenage Indonesian users. Notably teen users are equally prominent with 35-44 year olds, showing youth-orientation in this market relative to many others.

Facebook Indonesia demographics: age and gender

Facebook Indonesia demographics: age and gender, December 2019

Source: NapoleonCat

Brazil is fourth-biggest Facebook market, and the biggest in Latin America. It joins the US in having slightly more female than male Facebook users. Women outnumber men in every age bracket here.

While as usual the 25-34 age bracket are the keenest Facebook users, here ages between age demographics are less pronounced. Indeed, there are nearly as many 35-44 Brazilian Facebook users as there are 18-24 year olds, with even the 45-54 age bracket accounting for 12.3% of Brazilian Facebook users.

On the other hand, a smaller proportion of Brazilian teenagers use the app than in other markets. Indeed, you’ll find a greater share of 55-64 year olds in the Brazilian Facebook user base. Might these younger users be turning to other apps rather than the long in the tooth Facebook?

Facebook Brazil demographics: age and gender

Facebook Brazil demographics: age and gender, December 2019

Source: NapoleonCat

In Mexico (our fifth-biggest market) we see something approaching perfect gender parity, with women just about outnumbering men in the Mexican Facebook user base.

Facebook age demographics in Mexico follow a fairly typical pattern, though are inclined towards older users. Teenagers are outnumbered by 45-54 years olds, while 35-44 year old users, though squarely in third place here, are very well represented in North America’s and Latin America’s second-biggest Facebook market.

Facebook Mexico demographics: age and genderFacebook Mexico demographics: age and gender, December 2019

Source: NapoleonCat

Having dealt with the top-five biggest Facebook markets, we’ll skip down to Europe’s biggest market, the UK, number 11 overall.

The gender split is fairly even here, though we see slightly more female than male Facebook users here. The exception comes in the 25-34 year old bracket (which we can perhaps label ‘the Facebook Generation’).

Here we see a significant tilt towards older users; there are more Facebook users over the age of 65 than teenage Facebook users in the UK. Indeed, we find more users in the 35-44 and 45-44 year old brackets than we do in the 18-24 year old one. Clearly, this is a very different paradigm to that which we see in other major Facebook markets.

The share held by 25-34 year olds is somewhat smaller here than we’ve seen in Asian or Latin American markets. We see a similar picture in France and Italy, the other European top-20 markets.

Facebook UK demographics: age and gender

Facebook UK demographics: age and gender, December 2019

Source: NapoleonCat

We’ll finish this section by looking at the biggest market of Facebook users in Africa (and the Middle East), Egypt – the ninth-biggest Facebook market in the world in terms of overall users.

Here, as we might expect in the bridge between the Middle East and Africa, male users outnumber females by nearly two to one. The gender gap is least-pronounced in the youngest age brackets.

A little under two thirds of Facebook users in Egypt fit into the 18-24 or the 25-34 year old age brackets. Interestingly, both account for nearly the same proportion of Egyptian Facebook users. We could call this an inclination towards younger users, but that the teenage demographic is small here.

There are more female Facebook users in the 18-24 year old bracket than in the 25-34 year old one – perhaps reflective of societal factors

Facebook Egypt demographics: age and gender

Facebook Egypt demographics: age and gender, December 2019

Source: NapoleonCat

Most-liked Facebook pages

What sort of things do people on Facebook like? Well, one way to judge is to look at the most-liked Facebook pages.

Some names here will perhaps be relatively familiar reading to those who have looked over our other most-liked lists for other apps. On the other hand, some are unique to the upper echelons of Facebook. Notably the global extent of Facebook will tip us towards those pages which possess the banality necessary for true global appeal.

While perhaps the presence of Facebook (209 million likes as of March 2021) at the top of the chart is to be expected, Samsung in second place is perhaps the best illustration of this. Spain’s two most successful football teams feature, with the richest club in the world FC Barcelona edged out by Real Madrid CF in the social media stakes (103 million and 111 million respectively). Both are outdone by the one-man social media machine Cristiano Ronaldo, however, who is the most-liked individual on Facebook, with 125 million likes.

Coca-Cola, in seventh with 107 million likes, reasserts in status as the world’s favourite beverage (McDonald’s also features in the top-20, with 79 millions), while Buzzfeed’s Tasty page proves that food and drink are big business in the 21st century. 98 million Facebook users regularly tune-in to watch disembodied hands mixing deserts or liquid cheese in timelapse videos.

Colombian singer Shakira (111 million) and American rapper-slash-actor-slash-motivational speaker Will Smith (105 million) are the highest-ranking non-footballing celebrities, with Vin Diesel the leading muscleman of Facebook, with 105 million likes. Dwayne Johnson is more of an Instagram man it would seem.

Aside from the usual mixture of footballers and musicians, this list of most-liked pages on Facebook is notable for the inclusion of no fewer than four Chinese state-owned news networks, led by the primarily English language CGTN, liked by 116 million people. This makes it the fourth-most liked page on Facebook, with China Daily also featuring in the top-10, with 103 million likes. For a social network banned in China, that’s quite the soft-power exercise.

It feels only right we should also give an honourable mention for Mr Bean’s honourable effort in making the top-20 with 86 million likes.

A little further down in 23rd place, just after Justin Bieber, we find a page called Jerusalem Prayer Team, with 75 million likes. This gives us an indication of how Facebook demographics differ from other social apps, despite the considerable crossover in these most-liked lists.

Top-20 most-liked pages Facebook, millions of likes

most liked pages on facebook

Data source: Social Blade

Note that these metrics (accurate as of March 2021) refer to the most-liked pages, not the most-followed. The top-20 list would look more or less the same if we switched metrics.

Facebook connections

The mean average number of Facebook friends was reported at 338 back in 2014, with the median a bit lower at 200. This is the usually reported number, based on Pew Research Center data – so therefore pertaining to US Facebook users. There have been no signs of a more up-to-date figure from this source – or from any other, barring one exception listed below.

Interestingly, it has been observed that – as in real life – people tend to maintain meaningful networks of a maximum size of 150 (the so-called “Dunbar number”).

In 2016, an Oxford University study (the geographical scope is not clear), conducted by the eponymous Professor Dunbar himself, found that the average number of Facebook friends was 155. The study was focused on the number of friends that users could turn to in a crisis – in this case no more than four.

Women tended to have more Facebook friends than men: 166 compared to 145, according to this latter survey.

In a riff on the concept of ‘six degrees of separation’, Facebook conducted a study in 2016 to gauge the average number of connections you would have to pass through to get from any given person to another. The results showed that six degrees were in fact generous: the average number of intermediaries between one Facebook user and another was a mere 3.57, 3.46 in the US. This number had become smaller since the last time a similar study was conducted in 2011, which set the figure at 3.74. No doubt the considerable increase in Facebook users between the earlier and later experiment will have contributed to this contraction.

According to Igloo’s 2019 State of the Global Digital Workplace report, 87% of people use Facebook to connect with their co-workers. Interestingly, this is over twice as many as use LinkedIn (42%).

On which social networks do co-workers connect?

On which social networks do co-workers connect?

Source: Igloo

A much-heralded redesign of the app in May 2019 saw groups being foregrounded. At the time, 400 million Facebook users were members of groups.

In October 2020 Facebook reported that 1.8 billion users used groups every month (it is unclear if usage is taken as the same thing as membership here). There were over 10 million groups in existence at this point.

Facebook Usage Statistics

According to eMarketer estimates, the average time on Facebook by US users was set to reach 37 minutes per day in 2020 (on all devices). This is down on 38 minutes in 2019, which is it itself two minutes down on the previous estimate previously issued by eMarketer. This was a pre-pandemic estimate, so we need to correct upwards accordingly.

SimilarWeb Facebook stats (browser) covering September 2020 to February 2021 find that sessions last an average of 10:13 minutes, during which time users visit 8.38 pages. Alexa stats covering January-March 2021 give us daily Facebook usage time of 18:28 minutes, with 8.92 pages visited.

A 2017 study by Facebook found that sessions of between one and five minutes accounted for 36% of usage, sessions from five to 15 minutes for 37%, and those longer than that for the remaining 26%. This study was conducted based on desktop users; it is unclear to what extent usage among mobile users differs

Edison Research’s annual Infinite Dial contains Facebook stats on usage frequency in the US. The 2021 edition of the research finds that 73% of  Facebook users used the app daily, 20% weekly, 5% monthly, and 2% less frequently than that. This reflects the daily user stats above, which show that US & Canadian users were more likely to be daily users than the global average of 66%.

Frequency of Facebook usage among US users, Edison

Frequency of Facebook usage among US users

Data source: Edison Research

Pew Research data from 2019 gave us very similar proportions, with 74% of US Americans using Facebook daily, 17% weekly, and 9% less often than that.

Frequency of Facebook usage among US users, Pew

Frequency of Facebook usage among US users, Pew

Data source: Pew Research Center

Facebook devices and operating systems

As of the beginning of 2021, 98.3% of Facebook users accessed the app using a smartphone or tablet, making mobile devices overwhelming the most-utilised devices for accessing Facebook. There is clearly a good deal of crossover however, with desktop/laptop users, with 17.3% of the user base accessing the app through one of these larger devices as well. A mere 1.3% access Facebook on desktop (including laptop) devices only.

Devices used to access Facebook, percentage of users

Devices used to access Facebook, percentage of users

Data source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Mobile usage is particularly pronounced in Africa, where 98% of Facebook users access the platform via mobile (this stat dates to 2019).

In terms of OS, Android is dominant, accounting for 81% of Facebook usage, compared to a mere 15% for iOS (and 5% other). This is even more pronounced than the overall global ratio of 71% to 27%.

This could be taken as an indication of Facebook’s popularity in emerging markets where Android is preeminent, vs a slowdown in more established ones in favour of Instagram and more recently TikTok. The lack of uptake in iOS-skewed Japan may also contribute.

Operating systems used to access Facebook, percentage of users

Operating systems used to access Facebook, percentage of users

Data source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

What do users use Facebook to do?

A Cowen and Company study, the results of which were published on eMarketer, asked the US users of various social media for what they used the apps to do. This gives us an idea of why people use Facebook, and how Facebook usage compares with other social networks.

So why do people use Facebook? In overall terms the most common elected reasons were to view photos (65% of users), to share content with everybody (57%), and to watch videos (46%). These align with the most popular reasons to use social media in general, according to this study.

Looking to how it fares relatively to other apps across individual usage categories, this study is a demonstration of Facebook’s status as an app which is used for a multiplicity of purposes. While it only ranks as the most-used app in two of the eight categories in question, it is second in five more, and a pretty close third in the last remaining.

More Facebook users use the app to share content with everybody and to network (33% – the often-forgotten original purpose of social networks) than users of any other app. The 57% of users who use to app to share content with everybody represent the largest percentage of users using any app for any purpose outside of viewing videos.

In terms of watching videos, Facebook ranks behind Instagram (51%) and Snapchat (50%), albeit on 46% it’s not too far behind. The gap between Facebook and first-place Snapchat (43% to 45%) when it comes to sharing content one-on-one is even slighter.

Only Twitter reports a higher percentage of users looking for news (56% to Facebook’s 38%, though other estimates are higher – see below), and only shopping-focused Pinterest logs a greater concentration of shoppers – though in this case 47% is well in excess of Facebook’s 15%.

We might note in either case, that the considerably larger Facebook user base means that though these percentages may be smaller, the absolute numbers will be larger. So, really, far more people use Facebook as a source of news or even as somewhere to shop than use Twitter or Pinterest respectively. The same goes for any other category.

What proportion of US users use Facebook for various activities, vs other apps, percentage of social media users

What proportion of US users use Facebook for various activities, vs other apps

Data source: Cowen and Company via eMarketer

According to stats from AudienceProject, republished on eMarketer, 60% of US digital video viewers use Facebook to watch videos. Though YouTube is well out in front, on 90%, Facebook commands a considerable lead over the rest of the pack – with third place Instagram on a relatively paltry 35%.

Facebook content interaction

Hootsuite and We Are Social stats look at the average frequency of various behaviours by Facebook users.

They find that the average users will like one Facebook page over the course of their lifetime, which would suggest that this is not a feature with which many Facebook users have come to grips. On the other hand, Facebook’s ‘like’ functionality is popular, with the average user liking 11 posts over the course of a month. Female Facebook users tend to be a little more generous with the thumbs up, generating 12 likes to male users’ 10.

Facebook users make slightly fewer comments, however: an average of five per month (women making seven to men’s four). Perhaps unsurprisingly given the slightly higher level of effort required to make a comment as opposed to clicking the react button.

Sharing a post lies somewhere in the middle effort-wise, though in practice, users don’t tend to use this feature as much, averaging once per month (the same for both genders included here). Whether this is because the average user does not feel like they want to share the sentiments of others, or whether the slightly more technical nature (multiple clicks) of the functionality puts it beyond less-advanced users is a matter for speculation.

On the other hand, it doesn’t take much effort to click on an advert. And advertisers will not doubt be pleased that Facebook users are clicking on an average of 11 per month (14 for women, 9 for men).

These stats pertain to Q4 2020.

Facebook actions by gender, 30-day median

Facebook activities by gender

Data source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

These Facebook stats are also broken down by age. Here, we can see that the top commenters, on average, are female Facebook users aged 45-64, who comment between 10-11 times per month on average.

Male users are far more reticent in all age brackets, with fewer average comments (broadly speaking) as we move up through the age categories. The only age bracket in which we see gender parity is 18-24 – which takes in the (joint) more expressive male age bracket and the least-expressive female one, with five comments on average per month.

We the same patterns reflected in likes, with middle aged women (14-15) and younger men (12) the keenest likers, though the differences between male and female users are less pronounced than they are in terms of comments.

Once again, among Facebook users aged 18-24, the figure is the same, reflecting a generation where gender differences are less keenly felt. Perhaps we may see future iterations of this data including further gender categories to acknowledge this.

Average monthly Facebook comments and likes by age and gender

Facebook comments and likes by age and gender

Data source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

In terms of ad clicks, we see the difference between genders is most pronounced in the 45-54 and 55-64 age categories. In both of these, female Facebook users click 19 ads per month on average, compared to 11 for males.

This reflects a sharp upward curve in Facebook ad clicks as we climb through the female age brackets, and a far more gentle one among male users. The youngest category is closest, of course, though in this case male users tend to click more ads as we go up in age.

Facebook ad clicks by age and gender

Facebook ad clicks by age and gender

Data source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Of course, norms and behaviour also differ from country to country.

Median monthly comments range from 12 in the loquacious Philippines, 11 in Egypt, and 9 apiece in Mexico, Nigeria, and Thailand.

Meanwhile in China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia, the average is a single comment, with Hong Kong only one ahead. Facebook is less popular in these markets, with local equivalents or bans diluting Facebook penetration. Perhaps the average of three Facebook comments per month logged in Turkey, India, and Germany, among others, are more illustrative of usage patterns.

Average monthly Facebook comments made, by country

Median monthly Facebook comments made, by countrySource: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Romanians are the most enthusiastic likers, reacting 18 times per month on average to Facebook posts. Belgians are next on 15, with Denmark, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, and the UK all tied on 14.

Leaving aside the same five nations as before, we find that Singaporeans and Germans are the most reticent to like posts, with a monthly median of seven. Users in Vietnam, Ghana, and Switzerland, among others, only click like once more per month, on average.

Average monthly Facebook likes, by country

Median monthly Facebook likes, by country

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Advertisers in Israel (25), Denmark (23), and Romania (22) will have the best luck with Facebook ad clicks.

Those operating in African markets like Kenya, Nigeria (five apiece), or South Africa (six) may be better with other channels, or at least careful targeting. South Koreans, despite a low propensity for likes or comments, click Facebook ads 17 times per month on average. We should not necessarily assume, therefore, that users’ behaviour in one engagement metric will necessarily be reflected in others.

Average monthly Facebook ad clicks by country

Average monthly Facebook ad clicks by country

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

According to Hootsuite/We Are Social Facebook statistics, average post engagement for posts from Facebook pages stand at 0.11%. Engagement here is the number of reacts, shares, and comments over the total number of page fans.

Engagement rates for simple statuses are highest, at 0.19%, followed by 0.18% for photos, 0.13% for videos, and 0.05% for links.

Facebook page engagement benchmarks, percent

Facebook post engagement by content typeData source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

How is this reflected in the content actually posted? Predictably, it isn’t really. Near half of posts (47%) made by Facebook pages are links – though perhaps engagement with these posts is more valuable.

Photos are next, of 36%, video on 15.1%, while the humble status accounts for a mere 2.1% of posts from Facebook pages. Brands post an average of 2.37 times per day, according to these Facebook stats.

Content formats used by Facebook pages, percentage

Content formats used by Facebook pages

Data source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

In a typical pattern seen in other social media with large user bases, engagement/reach rates are higher in smaller communities. Pages with fewer than 10,000 fans enjoy average engagement of 0.45%. compared to 0.25% for those with more than 10,000, and 0.08% for pages with over 100,000.

Facebook page engagement benchmarks by follower count, percent

Facebook post engagement rate by follower count

Data source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Again, there are regional disparities. The lowest engagement levels, are to be found in Saudi Arabia (0.02%), surprisingly Romania (0.03%), which is level with Morocco, Russia, Chile, Egypt, the UAE, and Kenya. The US, on 0.04%, is not far ahead.

The highest levels were to be found in Norway (0.34%), Sweden (0.29%), Finland (0.27%), and Denmark (0.25%). We’re denied a Nordic full house by the lack of Icelandic stats. Slovenia (0.24%), Hong Kong (0.23%) and Austria (0.23%) deliver the highest non-Nordic stats.

As we can see, it’s somewhat tricky to plot any sort of pattern based on geography.

Average monthly Facebook page engagement by country

Average monthly Facebook page engagement by country

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

We don’t have 2021 Facebook stats for reach, so we refer you back to stats for Q2 2019, using a very different methodology which we should note gives significantly higher totals. Then, the organic reach of Facebook posts vs. overall likes stood at 5.34%. Average overall post reach was at 7.11%.

In all, 26.7% of pages used paid media to increase their reach. Paid reach stood at 28% of total reach for these pages.

Facebook page reach

Facebook page reach

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Switching to by country Facebook page reach stats (going even further back to early 2019, average organic reach of 6%, with overall average reach of 8%), we see that in certain markets organic reach is much higher: in Thailand, as high as 7.9%, with France and Indonesia logging 7.8%. On the other end of the scale, we see organic reach as low as 4% in Taiwan, 4.1% in Nigeria, or 4.3% in Malaysia.

Facebook post reach by country

Average monthly Facebook post reach by countrySource: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Facebook video statistics

As of May 2019, 75 million people used Facebook’s on-demand streaming service Facebook Watch for at least one minute per day. This service, however, has struggled to gain traction, with a study showing that 50% of US adults had not even head of Facebook Watch.

Users reportedly watch 100 million hours of Facebook video content per day. This stat was reported in 2016, however. We have not had an official update in the intervening period, so we can’t be sure how accurate this figure is in 2021.

Facebook behaviour through sessions

A 2017 study conducted by Facebook investigated how Facebook user behaviour was affected by various factors. The study found that, unsurprisingly, users tend to spend longer reading stories towards the start of their sessions. Faster reading time towards the start of a session indicates that the session will be shorter.

Towards the end of sessions, users will spend more time focusing on photos rather than text-based posts – 9% more time to be precise. At the start of a session the time spent is equal. The same applies to video content as text posts, albeit 5% less pronounced. External links also gain less traction towards the end of sessions.

Older users read stories for a longer amount of time than younger users; the difference is as wide as 80% between 15-20 year olds and 55-60 year olds. The difference between longer reading times towards the start of the session and shorter ones towards the end was far greater for older readers, while younger readers remained more consistent throughout the session.

The same is true for Facebook users with fewer friends, who generally spend longer reading posts, but show a greater propensity to slow down towards the end of a session than those with more friends (we might assume a fair degree of crossover with older users and those with fewer friends). The speed up is 14% for those with 50-100 friends, compared with 9% for those with 450-500 friends.

As we might expect, users spend longer reading posts during sessions that begin early in the morning (8am) or late at night (10pm) than they do during work hours (12pm or 4pm).

Perhaps more surprisingly, the study found that the activities of liking, commenting, and reading tended to occur in sessions focused on one of those three activities alone. This is more pronounced for likes and comments. In the case of the former, 49% of liking activity takes places in a mere 5% of sessions. In the case of comments the equivalent figure is 71% in 5% of sessions. To illustrate the crossover, if we take the top 5% of sessions by comments, and the top 5% by likes, there is only 27% crossover between the two.

In terms of reading, we see 26% of activity occurring in 5% of sessions. This smaller figure makes sense given that reading needs to take place during any session, before likes or comments are made accordingly.

Facebook news usage statistics

Social media being used as a news source is an inescapable element of 21st life, for better or (let’s be honest, more likely) for worse.

Alongside Oxford University, Reuters conducted a survey in April 2020 looking at the proportion of users across selected global markets who used various social media platforms to get news.

We’ve taken a selection of their selection, and compared Facebook news usage to overall usage in these markets.

In our sample, we see the highest figures and the least disparity in both metrics logged in emerging markets. In the Philippines, 73% of internet users treat Facebook as a news source, with 83% of internet users on the platform overall. In Mexico the figures are 70% and 83% respectively, in South Africa 57% and 79%, and in Brazil 57% and 79%.

Interestingly, we see a very high level of news usage in France, where over two-thirds of Facebook users treat the platform as a news source. This figure also reflects low trust in the traditional media, though may also go some way to explaining the apparent vaccine phobia in the nation.

In the US, the figure is more than half (35% to 63%). Other European and Northeast Asian nations seem to prefer traditional news sources, with Japan logging not only the lowest news usage (6%) and the lowest overall Facebook penetration, but also the lowest proportion of news users among overall users (less than a third).

Percentage of internet users in select markets using Facebook as a news source

Percentage of internet users in select markets using Facebook as a news sourceData: Reuters

36% of US adults use Facebook as a news source – far more than any other site, with second-place YouTube logging 23%. If we just look at Facebook users, 54% use it as a news source, behind only the news-heavy Twitter, on 59%.

According to Pew Research Center data, significantly more female Facebook users use the app for news: 65%, compared to 35% of male users.

In terms of education, as we might expect, we see higher usage levels of Facebook as a news source among those with lower levels of educational certification. That said, the difference between the 39% of those in the high school or less bracket who use Facebook as a news source, and the 29% in the college+ bracket is hardly the most significant demographic gap.

Far more pointed is the fact that 60% of white Facebook users use the platform for news,  over a mere 18% of Hispanic Facebook users, 13% of black Facebook users, and only 5% of Asian American users. This pattern, we might note, is the case for every social app.

50% of Democratic (or those who lean that way) Facebook users use it for news, compared to 46% of Republicans (or those leaning Republican). This is the closest ratio of any app, with Democratic news users greatly outnumbering Republicans across the board.

Facebook is clearly a prominent news source for a diverse range of Americans, though with some clear trends.

US Facebook news user demographics

Social media news user demographics

Data source: Journalism.org

Facebook shopping statistics

A year and half after it launched (October 2016), reported TechCrunch, Facebook Marketplace was up to 800 million monthly users. We don’t have an updated stats, as of April 2021.

Above, we referenced Cowen and Company stats that showed 15% of US Facebook users used the site to find and purchase products.

Facebook Gaming statistics

Never a company to sit on its laurels when a rival emerges in a new business area, Facebook moved into gaming livestreaming in June 2018, looking to rival Twitch (and YouTube).

Facebook Gaming has been building traction since, with 901 million hours viewed on the platform in Q4 2020. This compares to 165 million in the first quarter of 2019; clearly we can see that the pandemic had its effect in Q2 2020, with 830 million hours watched compared to 554 million in Q1.

Facebook Gaming hours watched by quarter, millions

Facebook Gaming hours watched by quarter, millions

Data source: Streamlab/Stream Hatchet

How does this compare to its chief rivals? As of Q4 2020, Facebook claimed at 11% share of the market (counting only hours watched on these three platforms). This compares to 22% for YouTube and 67% for clear market leader Twitch.

Facebook Gaming hours viewed 2020 market share

Facebook share of hours viewed, Q4 2020

Data source: Streamlab/Stream Hatchet

15 million hours were streamed by creators on Facebook Gaming in Q4 2020, up from 2 million in Q1 2019. We might note the pandemic boost came a bit later in this metric, with hours nearly doubling between Q3 and Q4 2020.

Facebook Gaming hours streamed by quarter, millions

Facebook Gaming hours streamed by quarter, millions

Data source: Streamlab/Stream Hatchet

Looking at market shares, we can perhaps see why more game streamers are broadcasting on Facebook. While 11% of hours watched are on Facebook, only 4% of hours streamed are, meaning that in theory higher viewership figures should be offer.

Of course, it is more complex than that, depending on algorithms, usability, and the nature of the crowd. YouTube offers perhaps even better theoretical ‘value’ here, with a 6% share of streaming to a 22% of viewing, though its algorithm has been found to not always work in favour of streamers.

Twitch claims a massive 90% market share of gaming hours streamed. When someone wants to stream a game, it’s to Twitch they turn, seemingly.

Facebook Gaming hours streamed 2020 market share

Facebook share of hours streamed, Q4 2020

Data source: Streamlab/Stream Hatchet

Facebook is a long way from competing in terms of viewer numbers, with 410,000 concurrent viewers on average in Q4 2020, compared to 2.5 million on Twitch. YouTube’s average concurrent viewership of 870,000 was some way ahead also. Despite some fluctuations, at this stage, Facebook has never got to 50% of YouTube’s total, or 20% of Twitch’s.

On the other hand, Facebooking Gaming is clearly a bigger draw than the now defunct Microsoft Mixer, which attracted 50,000 thousand concurrent viewers on average in its final quarter (Q2 2020).

Facebook Gaming, average concurrent viewers vs rivals, thousands

Facebook Gaming, average concurrent viewers vs rivals, thousands

Data source: Streamlab/Stream Hatchet

Facebook is a long way off in terms of total channels also, with 270,000 in Q3 2020 to Twitch’s 10.6 million (that would explain the 90% market share of hours streamed).

On the other hand, one could imagine it catching YouTube, which seems to be shedding channels rapidly. 2.3 million channels in Q1 2019 fell to 900,000 in Q3 2020 – perhaps reflecting issues with the algorithm, particularly for smaller streamers (though, famously, many broadcast to no one on Twitch).

This was the one metric where Mixer shone, with steamers remaining enthusiastic about the platform to the last, despite lower viewing figures. 5 million channels were active on Microsoft’s platform in Q2 2020. It came within 0.1 million of Twitch in Q3 2019, no doubt reflecting streaming superstar Ninja’s defection to to the platform (he has since returned to Twitch, an eight-figure dollar sum better off for it).

Facebook Gaming channels in Q3 2020 were over double those seen in Q1 2020 (130,000). Our data source here, Stream Labs and Stream Hatchet, did not publish this metric in Q4 2020. If they had, we may have seen a considerable jump in this Facebook stat, reflecting the increased hours being streamed.

Facebook Gaming, total unique channels vs rivals, thousands

Facebook Gaming, total unique channels vs rivals, thousands

Data source: Streamlab/Stream Hatchet

Facebook Dating statistics

Facebook is out for Tinder, launching a dating service in October 2019. In October 2020, 1.5 billion matches had been made, according to Facebook.

Facebook controversies

While Facebook user numbers might be continually rising, that does not mean that we never see any attrition of Facebook users. This is in no small part down to the Facebook controversies that have dogged the company throughout its existence.

Certainly many users were upset by Cambridge Analytica Facebook controversy, which saw user data being harnessed for political ends by consultants working for Donald Trump. Facebook’s lack of action on fake news also left a bad taste in many users’ mouths. And, less controversially, there is the simple issue of users coming to find Facebook increasingly dull in comparison with more exciting, younger apps like Instagram or TikTok.

Research from the Pew Research Center published in 2018 found that 42% of US Facebook users had taken a break from using the site for a few weeks, while 26% had deleted the app from their phone. A further 54% had adjusted their privacy settings in order to not fall foul of Facebook’s seemingly lax attitude to their data.

US users who have stopped using Facebook temporarily or permanently

US users who have stopped using Facebook temporarily or permanently

Source: Pew Research Center

Of course, in order to be able to leave, users have to be aware that there is an issue in the first place. Interestingly, the same Pew Research Center study found that 74% of users were not aware that Facebook kept information regarding their interests and traits. 51% were uncomfortable with this information, while 27% did not feel that the list maintained by Facebook was representative.

US users’ awareness of personal information on Facebook

US users’ awareness of personal information on Facebook

Source: Pew Research Center

Fake Facebook users

There is one small caveat to be mentioned in relation to the Facebook user figures listed at the top of this fact file. Well, actually, it’s a major caveat. In May 2019, Facebook announced that 120 million of its monthly active users were fake accounts. While this only comes to 5% of its total user base, 120 million is a fair whack by any estimation. This figure doesn’t cover accounts detected by Facebook before they were able to become active. These numbered an incredible 2.2 billion in Q1 2019; which represents a significant increase on the already incredible 1.2 billion such accounts detected in Q4 2018.

The problem did not go away. Between April and September 2019, 3.2 billion fake accounts were removed by Facebook – the vast majority before they were able to become active. In December, in the wake of the shutting down of hundreds of profiles, groups, and pages (followed by 55 million accounts), it was announced that AI was being used to generate fake profile pictures. Many of these fake profiles were posting pro-Donald Trump political content from a site called The BL, which has alleged (though denied) links with the banned-from-Facebook Epoch Times.

These figures have remained level, with Q4 2020 reports indicating that 11% of Facebook profiles are duplicates and 5% are fake.

In March 2019, Facebook announced it was suing three people and four companies based in China for selling fake accounts

Facebook banned content and spam

1.76 billion spam posts were removed by Facebook in the first quarter of 2019 alone. This was not the only variety of problematic content Facebook was forced to remove. Action was also taken on 6.4 million posts deemed to be terrorist propaganda, 4 million deemed to be hate speech, 900,000 related to drug sales, and 670,000 to firearms sales. The vast majority of problematic posts are detected by Facebook’s AI. Over 4.2 billion pieces of spam content were removed over the course of 2020.

From April to September 2019, Facebook reportedly removed 18.5 million instances of child nudity and 11.4 million instances of hate speech. The latter represents a 7.5 million increase on the preceding six-month period – which Facebook partially explains by saying it is taking more proactive action.

Fake news on Facebook                                      

One of the most problematic Facebook controversies is the spread of fake or misleading news, with adverse effects for wider society. Indeed, entire TED Talks have been given on Facebook’s role in influencing democratic processes, through the spread of disinformation, as well as the aforementioned unethical usage of personal data. Buzzfeed research found that the 50 of the biggest fake news stories on Facebook of 2018 were shared, reacted to, or commented on 22 million times. Facebook’s actions (or lack of) in tackling this scourge has been consistently deemed unsatisfactory by media observers and experts, whatever lip service it has paid to doing so.

Facebook has denied influencing the Brexit referendum in the UK in 2016, claiming there was no evidence of foul play. On the other hand, it did find evidence of malicious activity (seemingly based in Russia) during the US election of the same year.

The app’s biggest market, India, is no stranger to Facebook controversies. It is estimated that 50% of Indians were exposed to fake news on Facebook and WhatsApp in the run-up to the general elections of 2019.

It was reported in 2019 that advertisers were able to change the headlines on articles shared on Facebook. This could mean an article could be posted with a Facebook headline that ran completely contrary to what was posted. Or – as is perhaps more common – in a way that is misleading. This feature has previously been open to anyone sharing a piece, but was shut down in 2017 in the wake of inevitable abuse (to the consternation of social media managers). Facebook has indicated it intends to shut this feature down – though we might have assumed that was the case in 2017.

Many users’ relationship with news on Facebook doesn’t go beyond the headline, either scrolling past and taking it as read, or more problematically, sharing without doublechecking the content (wonderfully illustrated through the mass sharing of a satirical article purporting to cover this very subject whose content was merely lorem ipsum filler text). This, therefore, can be a major issue – particularly when it seems as if the news is coming from a creditable source.

Users do seem to have some awareness of these Facebook controversies. Pew Research Center data shows that 62% of US adults believe social media has too much control over the news we see, with 55% believing that this results in poorer quality news, 53% believing it was one-sided, and 51% identifying misleading news as a major issue. While no app is singled out, Facebook and Twitter certainly tend to be names that come up in relation to this modern phenomenon. 62% of Indians believed that fake news would have an impact on the 2019 election.

Facebook began rolling out a news-focused subsection in October 2019, with the stated intention of curating high-quality news content from trusted news sources in order to combat fake news. While the move certainly suggested good intentions, the presence of far-right platform Breitbart cast considerable doubt on what passed muster as a credible news source. Facebook declined to reveal a full list of news sources that would feature. Mark Zuckerberg commented that the algorithm that would pick featured news may not favour the same articles as news editors.

Problematic Facebook usage

Social media addiction is a widely-acknowledged issue. Unsurprisingly, the biggest social media outlet of them all has been associated with problematic usage.

A study from Facebook itself, based on a sample of 20,000 US users, published in early 2019, looked into patterns of problematic Facebook usage (stating they would be avoiding the term addiction). Problematic users in this case were self-identified. In all, 3.1% of Facebook users identified themselves as problem users. The researchers argue their definition is loose, thus this figure represents what they say is the upper threshold for problematic usage.

Problematic usage was defined as that which had a negative effect on users’ lives, and over which users did not feel they had control (both elements were required). Survey results were cross-referenced with data drawn from server logs.

Such users tended to young – with those under the age of 25 are nearly 100% more likely to report problematic usage. They are 1.4 times more likely to be male, and perhaps experiencing a major life event (breakups increase likelihood by 2.4, moving to a new city by 2). In contrast to this real-life loneliness, they were also likely to have 29% more Facebook friends.

Their usage tends to focus on profiles (17.9% more time than average users) and messaging friends (62.7% more messages in all, or 38.7% more messages per hour, accounting for differences in usage time; they were also 36.7% more likely to have sent more messages than they received). They viewed their timelines 7.7% less than the average user.

Problematic users get 27.4% more notifications than the average user, and are more likely to respond to them – particularly if they were related to replies on comments they had made.

The study also found such users are 2.1 times more likely to have read articles on social media addiction, and are more than usually likely to deactivate their accounts – 2.6 times more likely to be precise.

Clearly there are certain limitations with this method, with its focus on those who have a good idea of the dangers involved and that they need to change their behaviour somehow. Those who identified themselves as being problematic users did indeed spend 21.6% more time using Facebook and logged 13.5% sessions than those who didn’t. They were also found to be more likely to log sessions at night time – confirming their assertion that Facebook was having a negative impact on their sleep.

Though only accounting for 3.1%, certainly this allows for a good deal of variance in the non-problematic group – which may well have contained non-self diagnosed problem users.

Interestingly, despite their awareness that their behaviour was problematic, these Facebook users reported that they valued their time on Facebook 9.1% more than those whose usage was not problematic. The relationship is complex therefore.

As with any research issued from the corporate entity in question – particularly Facebook – it is worth being alive to any spin/PR in these findings – potentially in the form of omissions. Other studies have been less coy about using the term ‘addiction’.

Increased Facebook usage has also been linked with feeling worse about oneself.

Facebook Marketing Statistics and Facebook Advertising Statistics

As well as being a social network through which users can connect with their acquaintances, Facebook is very much a platform through which businesses can communicate with current and would-be customers.

Facebook marketing statistics

There are 90 million business pages on Facebook (2018 stat). As of 2020, 160 million businesses use Facebook every month to communicate with prospective customers and employees, or to engage with their communities (this stat refers, however, to Facebook products, not just Facebook itself).

According to eMarketer Facebook marketing statistics from 2018 more than 85% of US marketers had used Facebook as a marketing platform since 2016 – a figure that was estimated to reach 87% in 2020. This is in excess of any other social network, though the growth rate is outstripped by Instagram and YouTube – though the latter is far less popular among marketers for the time being. And certainly given the money will all end up in the same place, the rise of Instagram will not be of the greatest concern to Mark Zuckerberg.

Percentage of US marketers using different social media platforms

Percentage of US marketers using different social media platforms

Source: eMarketer

Facebook marketing statistics based on a study of 5,200 marketers conducted by Social Media Examiner confirms it is the most commonly used platform. No fewer than 94% of marketers reported that they used the platform in 2020, level with the year before. Considering second-place Instagram logs only 76% (up from 73%), and third-place LinkedIn 59%, we can see just how established Facebook is as a part of the digital marketing mix.

What percentage of marketers use Facebook vs other platforms?

Which social media platforms do marketers use?Data source: Social Media Examiner

If we just look at B2C marketing, Facebook usage increases to 96%; Instagram is also up to 82%, so the gap is narrowed marginally. The gap is narrower still for B2B marketing, though at 91% Facebook is still the favoured platform, ahead of LinkedIn on 81%.

Limited to one choice, marketers were asked which platform they believed was most important. Facebook has lost share over the past few years, falling to 59% in 2020, from 61% in 2019, and 67% in 2018. 2019 represented the first time Facebook lost share in this survey, going back to 2015, at which point the equivalent figure was 52%.

Facebook retains a strong lead, however. Second and third-place Instagram and LinkedIn together muster just over half of Facebook’s votes.

What percentage of marketers believe Facebook is the most important platform vs rivals

What percentage of marketers believe Facebook is the most important platform vs rivalsData source: Social Media Examiner

There is of course, a significant disparity between B2B and B2C marketers. The former are slightly less enthusiastic about Facebook, with 46% choosing it as the most important platform, to LinkedIn’s 33%. On the other hand, a huge 67% of B2C marketers choose Facebook as the most important platform, with second place Instagram claiming a mere 19%.

Facebook has lost share among both demographics, with LinkedIn and Instagram respectively among the beneficiaries.

Marketers who think Facebook is most important platform vs rivals: B2B vs B2C

preferred marketing platforms, b2c vs b2c

Source: Social Media Examiner

Notably, the 69% of marketers who say they want to learn more about marketing the platform is down considerable on the 79% who said the same in 2018. Instagram (72%) overtook it to claim top spot in this metric in 2019. While the percentages are high enough that it’s a bit premature to talk about this as definitive, we are certainly seeing a quiet shift in interest towards other platforms.

We might, at the very least, question to what extent Facebook’s dominance of other metrics in this survey may simply be related to its incumbent status as the default answer to these questions. Naturally, being the world’s biggest social media platform certainly is a compelling argument as to why marketers value it so highly, but is this enough to maintain its dominance? Does it have anything to offer beyond scale? We shall see, but certainly it may take years for clear trends to take shape.

Focusing on video, however, gives us another indication of Facebook’s sheer reach and polymathic possibilities. Facebook native video, used by 49% of marketers, are second only to YouTube videos, which at 55% are not actually that far ahead. Facebook Stories (remember those 500 million daily users) also feature, with 32% of marketers using these. This is a rare instance of an upward trend, with the 2019 figure 22%.

66% said they planned to increase their use of Facebook videos, compared to 69% for YouTube and 70% for Instagram. 72% of marketers want to learn more about how to use Facebook video, putting it in only 1% behind YouTube in this measure. Slightly more marketers (25%) choose Facebook as the most important video channel than do YouTube (24%). Instagram (14%) is a little behind.

In terms of live video, 38% of marketers use Facebook Live – which given 54% don’t use live video at all is more significant than it sounds. Another way to put it is that 82% of marketers who use live video use Facebook Live. 64% of marketers choose it as the most important live video channel.

50% of respondents to this survey (published in May 2020) said they planned to increase organic marketing activity on Facebook over the year to come, while 10% said they planned to decrease it. While the latter might seem like a small percentage, this is the largest percentage for any platform. Nonetheless, we still see 50% of marketers planning to increase activity and spend.

If we focus on video, Facebook is more in the ascendancy, with 66% of marketers planning to increase activity, 21% to maintain it, and only 2% to decrease. YouTube (69%) and Instagram (70%) are only slightly ahead in terms of increasing activity.

The remaining 11% have no plans to use it – the lowest of any app.

Do marketers plan to increase, decrease, or maintain Facebook usage?

Do marketers plan to increase, decrease, or maintain Facebook usage?Data source: Social Media Examiner

There is a reason, of course for all this popularity. And that is the Facebook is simply the most effective platform open to marketers. In Q1 2019, no fewer than 80.4% of referrals to ecommerce sites from social networks came through Facebook…

Even second-place Instagram – perhaps the only likely candidate to usurp Facebook’s crown (albeit it would be a more a passing of the mantle) – is only responsible for 10.7%.

Social networks’ share of referrals to ecommerce sites

Social networks’ share of referrals to ecommerce sites

Source: eMarketer

Another set of Facebook stats published on eMarketer a year later, using a different data source, found Facebook accounted for 43% of social referrals in the US in Q1 2020. This compared to 25% for Twitter, 18% for Pinterest, and 12% for Instagram. These stats seem to refer to all social referrals, not just ecommerce.

These by quarter stats show a good deal of variance between quarters. Facebook accounted for as many as 54% of referrals in Q3 2019. Twitter’s Q1 2020 share represents a significant high, with only 8% of referrals logged in Q3 2019. Pinterest, on the other hand, is down from 34% in that quarter. It seems we saw a new lay of the land from Q4 2019.

These are pre-pandemic stats, of course. When later stats are released covering this time, we may well see very different trends.

Facebook percentage of social referrals vs other platforms

Facebook percentage of social referrals vs other platforms

Data source: eMarketer

Facebook Advertising Statistics

There are over 7 million active advertisers on Facebook, according to official stats dating back to 2019. This represents a significant increase on the 3 million reported in Q1 2016 (this had doubled by Q3 2017).

According to data from the Pew Research Center, around a third of US Facebook users have over 21 categories listed on their ad preferences page. A further 27% have 10-20. This means that the platform can build up a relatively nuanced view of users’ interests.

Number of categories listed on US Facebook users’ ad preference pages

Number of categories listed on US Facebook users’ ad preference pages

Source: Pew Research Center

The Social Media Examiner survey referenced above also asked marketers on which platform they bought ads. Here, once again, we see Facebook surge into an uncontested lead, with 70% of marketers buying ads on Facebook. Instagram ads, on 41%, are only a little more than half as popular.

Facebook is, in essence, one of the world’s most sophisticated advertising platforms, so it is unsurprising to see it so very dominant in this measure.

Percentage of marketers using Facebook ads vs other platforms

Percentage of marketers buying Facebook ads vs other platforms

Data source: Social Media Examiner

58% of marketers said they planned to increase their usage of Facebook ads; this is higher than Instagram (55%) and YouTube (40%). The 4% of marketers who say they are going to decrease their use of Facebook ads is the highest for any platform, but in this measure at least, the boat ostensibly remains un-rocked (though hidden waves are always a possibility).

72% of marketers say they want to learn more about Facebook ads. In this respect its lead is relatively narrow, with second-place Instagram logging 65%.

Do marketers plan to increase, decrease, or maintain Facebook ad usage?

Data source: Social Media Examiner

Of major global digital ad sellers, only Google’s business was worth more than Facebook’s in 2020, with $147 billion to Facebook’s $84 billion. TikTok owner ByteDance made estimated total revenue of $37 billion, mostly from Chinese ad sales, and will certainly by the one to be watched over 2021, though TikTok has been separated from the rest of the business.

Aside from ByteDance, Alibaba leads the pack of Chinese major ad sellers, with $37 billion (eMarketer estimate – downgraded over the year due to pandemic-related difficulties). Amazon’s ad business, at $21.4 billion over 2020, does not trouble bigger US-based rivals.

For further Facebook revenue stats, see Facebook Revenue Statistics below.

Facebook 2020 online ad sales vs key rivals, USD billions

Data source: Companies, except ByteDance (The Information) and Alibaba (eMarketer estimate)

Over the course of 2020, eMarketer estimated that Facebook would claim 23.5% of US ad spend, a little way behind Google on 30%, which perhaps benefitted more from the online push necessitated by the pandemic. Amazon is other big player, with 10.2%.

Facebook percentage share of US ad spend 2020 vs key rivals

Facebook share of US ad revenue 2020 vs key rivals

Data source: eMarketer

eMarketer Facebook stats published on Journalism.org in 2019 have Facebook as the market leader. According to these stats, Facebook increased its share of US digital ad revenue from 25% in 2014 to a princely 40% in 2018. The only sign of a slowdown in Facebook’s controlling of this sector is the fact that 40% is a mere 1% increase on the 39% reported in 2017.

Second-place Google’s share decreased by 25% over the same period, from 16% to 12%, while a seemingly heavily wounded Twitter’s has halved from 4% to 2%. Even after absorbing Yahoo’s share of the market in 2019, Verizon Media Group’s share still stands at a mere 4%. No one, then, came close to Facebook’s share of US ad market revenue at this stage

Facebook share of US digital ad revenue, 2014 – 2018

Facebook share of US digital ad revenue, 2014 - 2018

Source: Journalism.org

According to AdEspresso (Hootsuite) Facebook stats we have seen some variance in Facebook cost-per-click over recent years. The 2020 average of $0.39 is represents a mid-level stat, down on 2019’s high of $0.45, but well up on 2018, where advertisers would only need to pay $0.31 per click.

If it’s Facebook likes being sought by advertisers, the 2020 level of $0.20 is also mid-range, albeit half the level seen in 2017. App installs, on the other hand, have gone up considerably, coming to $3.40 in 2020, compared to $1.45 in 2019 and only $0.63 in 2018.

Increased competition may have contributed to this upsurge, though these Facebook stats may make marketers question the suitability of using this platform to drive app installs.

Facebook average cost per click/like/install by year, USD

Facebook average cost per click/like/install by yearData source: AdEspresso

Year-wide averages in these stats go some way to smoothing over high levels of variance seem between quarters. If we focus in on CPC by campaign objective over the first three quarters of 2020, we can see an illustration of this.

Those seeking impressions will have seen Facebook CPC come down to $0.98 in Q3 2020 from $1.41 in Q1, while conversions more than halved in price over the same period: $0.70 in Q1 to $0.25 in Q3.

We saw the opposite phenomenon in reach, with CPC up to $1.03 from $0.83. Link clicks remained fairly consistent through the year, at $0.14-0.16.

Facebook 2020 average CPC by campaign objective, USD

Facebook 2020 average CPC by campaign objectiveData source: AdEspresso

According to older Facebook ad benchmarking stats from online advertising agency Wordstream (based on 8,287 US accounts, between Nov 2016 and July 2019), the average CTR for Facebook ads across industries is 0.89%. This of course varies from industry to industry. From as little as 0.45% for science-related ads (scientists are clearly sceptical about which ads they are willing to click) to as high as 1.68% for pets & animals (if you’ve ever been in the home of a pampered pet then this will make perfect sense).

Pets & animals is some way out in front in terms of Facebook CTR, with the next highest CTR delivered by ads in the food & drink sector (1.2%) and news (1.05%). On the other end of scale jobs & education (0.55%) and finance (0.58%) offer the next lowest CTR outside of science.

Facebook ad CTR by industry

Facebook ad CTR by industry

Source: Wordstream

So how does that translate in cost per click terms? The average across industry, according to these Facebook ad benchmarks comes to $1.68.

By some distance, the highest CPC is delivered by finance ads, at $3.89 – over twice as much as the average rate. With a low CTR and high CPC, hopefully for advertisers these ads are delivering the sort of high-quality, lucrative customers presumably being targeted by these ads. Internet and telecom Facebook ads, at $3.07, deliver the next highest CPC, followed by home & garden ads $2.78.

The lowest CPC can be found in food & drink Facebook ads, at $0.42. The next lowest CPC is offered by ads in pets & animals ($0.61) and hobbies & leisure ($0.61).

Facebook ad CPC by industry

Facebook ad CPC by industry

Source: Wordstream

What about the payoff: conversion rate?

Well, while food & drink and pets & animals Facebook ads may deliver high CTR and low CPC, conversion rates – at 3.98% and 3.27% – are relatively low.

On the other hand, science ads may have had a low CTR, but with a low CPC and high CVR (11.04%), clearly the first stat doesn’t tell the whole story. This is the third highest Facebook CVR; jobs & education is the highest (12.82%) – the same applies here. The second-highest is beauty & fitness (11.65%).

News gives us the lowest conversion rate (2.15%), followed by hobbies & leisure (2.91% – another low cost, low yield example).

Across industries, the average was 9.11%.

Facebook ad CVR by industry

Facebook ad CVR by industry

Source: Wordstream

So finally, what does that mean in term of cost per acquisition/action? The average across industries is $19.68.

Of course, other variables play into this which mean that this is an imperfect comparison. For instance conversions in the finance industry are likely to be worth much more than those in food & drink.

On the other hand, there’s no disputing that $56.89 paid by the pets & animals industry per acquisition certainly looks very high; one would hope that this acquisition would lead to long-term customers. The same can be said for home & garden CPA of $44.23. Facebook CPA of $41.28 for the finance industry is also high, but as we say above, this is likely to deliver customers of high-financial worth.

The lowest Facebook CPA is seen in the science ($12.67), food & drink ($12.91), and pet & animals ($15.29) sectors. The last sector shows us the difficulty of Facebook ad benchmarking using one indicator: high CTR and low CPC are seemingly offset by a low CVR; though ultimately, low CPA shows that advertising on Facebook can be cost effective, despite the low conversion levels.

The same might be said for food & drink. For such sectors, a high-CTR, low-CVR ads can still deliver low-cost acquisitions/actions.

Facebook ad CPA by industry

Facebook ad CPA by industry

Source: Wordstream

Another set of Facebook ad benchmarks, from Ad Stage (based on an analysis of 1.12 billion ad impressions in Q3 2019) found a median CPC of $0.57. The trend over the trailing year has generally been downwards, with Q3 2018 CPC standing at $0.75.

With the exception of a brief surge in Q1 2019, this trend has been consistent, representing a serious reduction in the price point of Facebook ad clicks (24% year-on-year), according to these Ad Stage stats.

Facebook newsfeed ads median CPC Q3 2018 – Q3 2019

Facebook newsfeed ads median CPC Q3 2018 – Q3 2019

Source: Ad Stage

This has not gone hand-in-hand with a lower CPM, however. Indeed, the trends don’t seem be connected, with CPM rising in price significantly between Q3 2018 ($7.44) and Q1 2019 ($10.60), before what is either a significant correction or a freak quarter in Q2 2018 ($7.71) took us nearly back down to the levels of Q3 2018 once again; albeit this would still represent a 10% increase year-on-year.

Going back further than this particular graphic shows to Q1 2019 shows that the trend has generally been upwards in recent years. Even with the dip in Q2 2019 taken into consideration, one thing is clear: Facebook CPM is in a completely different ballpark to that which it occupied even as recently as the beginning of 2018.

It has been suggested that changes to the news feed pushed out in 2018 may be behind this upward surge in Facebook CPM. These changes have led to the time spent using Facebook to decline – as expected even by Mark Zuckerberg himself. Ergo, it is harder to rack up those ad impressions.

Even before this change, Facebook CPM was drifting up. It was posited that this was related to Facebook approaching the point of ‘ad load’ – simply, they were running out of space to actually put ads into. And there can’t be many economic principles quite so inescapable as scarcity value. The change to the news feed may have only exacerbated an existing trend.

Q3 2019’s median figure of $8.19 suggests we might be seeing Facebook CPM drift continue its upward drift, suggesting that even the seeming corrective of Q2 2018 was merely a blip.

Facebook newsfeed ads CPM Q3 2018 – Q3 2019

Facebook newsfeed ads CPM Q3 2018 - Q3 2019

Source: Ad Stage

Median CTR for newsfeed ads according to these Facebook ad benchmarks comes to 1.45% in Q3 2019. This represents an increase on Q2 2019’s 1.2%, as well as a year-on-year increase on Q3 2019’s 0.99%.

It is down slightly, however, on Q1 2019’s 1.48%. Q2 2019 is the only quarter in the range in which we saw a decline in median Facebook CTR. The general trend seems to be upwards, even if Q3 2019 has not recovered to Q1 levels.

Facebook newsfeed ad CTR Q3 2018 – Q3 2019

Facebook newsfeed ad CTR Q3 2018 - Q3 2019

Source: Ad Stage

The above stats pertain to newsfeed ads. Ad Stage also provide stats pertaining to ads placed elsewhere in the Facebook advertising grid.

If we take cost-per-click ($0.55) and cost-per-mille ($2.08) as our guide, ads placed in the righthand column represent better value (very slightly and significantly, respectively) than newsfeed ads. Clickthrough-rate (0.14%), however, is significantly lower – around a tenth of newsfeed ads.

This does seem to be something of a case of getting what you pay for – though, ultimately you’ll end with CPC at more or less the same level. Ultimately these two types of ads represent two different ways to achieve the same result.

Facebook righthand column ad benchmarks, Q3 2019

Facebook righthand column ad benchmarks, Q3 2019

Source: Ad Stage

Or there’s a third way to achieve the same cost-per-click as a righthand column ad (to the cent) or a newsfeed ad, somewhere in the middle in terms of CPM ($4.50) and clickthrough rate (0.64%): Facebook Marketplace ads.

Facebook Marketplace ad benchmarks, Q3 2019

Source: Ad Stage

Discounting Facebook Messenger, which we will cover in a separate collection of stats, the last form of Facebook advertising brands can take up is through its Audience Network – basically Facebook ad network extended to different apps and websites.

This form of advertising finally offers some differentiation in terms of CPC, which comes in at a lower $0.42. CPM is lower than newsfeed ads, at $7.29, while clickthrough rates of 1.67% are superior to anything else offered in the Facebook ad ecosystem.

Perhaps there is something about outside the Facebook app or website itself that makes users feel a bit more comfortable about viewing ads. Indeed, there’s the aforementioned overload of ads and algorithm changes on Facebook, which certainly makes vying for attention more difficult.

Then perhaps there is also an element of discomfort for users about being served extremely-specific targeted ads. There is such a thing as too-well targeted.

Facebook Audience Network ad benchmarks, Q3 2019

Facebook Audience Network ad benchmarks, Q3 2019

Source: Ad Stage

A 2018 study from web analytics firm Metricool, analysing 148,187 Facebook ad campaigns, found that the most common campaign objective for brands advertising on Facebook was post engagement. A full two thirds of the campaigns analysed had this goal in mind.

Interesting, web traffic was only the chief objective for 13% of campaigns, and conversions for 5%. This tells us something interesting about Facebook advertising: brands seemingly do not view it simply as a direct conduit towards a purchase, but rather a way to build relationships with current and prospective consumers.

Facebook ads, then, are a way to try and cultivate a sort of soft power, intended to humanise brands and perhaps give them an air of authenticity, in order to meet the expectations of the modern consumer. Even when it come to advertising, this is still ‘social’ media after all…

What do brands want to achieve with Facebook ads?

What do brands want to achieve with Facebook ads?

Source: Metricool

Of course, one reason why brands might so heavily favour post engagement over actions that might lead to a purchase is that this objective requires a little less by way of investment. Indeed, we see that while post engagement account for 19% of Facebook ad investment (which in the interests of balance is still the second-biggest segment), it is into traffic that the largest investment, 25%, is made. Conversion, it’s certainly worth adding, also accounts for 19%…

How much Facebook ad budget goes towards meeting each objective?

How much Facebook ad budget goes towards meeting each objective?

Source: Metricool

The objective of Facebook ad campaigns also has a bearing on CPM, according to these Metricool Facebook ad statistics. How important CPM is an end goal, of course, will vary depending on campaign objectives. This will of course determine whether an advertiser will choose to focus on reaching a larger, more general audience, or a smaller, but more-targeted one.

Average Facebook CPM according to this data was $1.26 (the figure printed on the CPM graphic seems to a typo, belonging rightly on the CPC graphic you’ll find lower down the page). This could go as low as $0.48 for brand awareness, for which CPM might be a fairly useful measure of success. The low CPM here can be directly related to the relatively low level of investment we saw above. The same might be said of reach, for which CPM comes in at $0.52.

On the other hand, CPM is nearly 10 times higher at the top end of the scale for product catalogue sales, at $4.77, with conversions in second with CPM of $4.02.

These two are notably in a category of their own in terms of CPM, which makes perfect sense. Achieving these campaign objectives is far more about reaching the right people than it is reaching as many people as possible. So while CPM may be much higher, so long as other results are achieved, the cost would be justified. Think of it a the cost of reaching 1,000 of the right people.

Facebook CPM by campaign objective

Facebook CPM by campaign objective

Source: Metricool

Campaign objectives are not the only thing that have a bearing on CPM. Naturally, efforts will cost more or less depending on the market being targeted.

The most expensive Facebook CPM by some way can be found in the UK, for which a thousand impressions will set you back $3.15. Spain comes in second ($2.42) and the US at third ($2.29). The lowest CPM for the countries covered by this survey, limited to Europe and the Americas, is delivered in Colombia ($0.42) and Ecuador ($0.55).

Facebook CPM by country

Facebook CPM by country

Source: Metricool

Metricool also look at CPC by campaign objective. The average figure here is $0.05.

As well as looking at it by specific brand objectives, we also get average Facebook CPC by slightly broader categories of objectives. These come to $0.19 for lead generation, $0.13 for conversion, and $0.05 for traffic.

The most expensive types of Facebook click according to this measure are app installs, for which you’ll be looking at $0.30 per click. This is by far the most expensive click to pursue, coming in at over 50% higher than second-place lead generation. Clearly there is a hesitance in terms of committing to app installs.

The lowest Facebook CPC is generated by campaigns with post engagement as their objective. Likes and comments come in at $0.02 apiece. Messages, at $0.04 will not set you back much more.

Facebook CPC by campaign objective

Facebook CPC by campaign objective

Source: Metricool

As with CPM, the UK is the most expensive market in terms of Facebook CPC, at $0.23. The US ($0.13) and Spain ($0.09) again take up second and third place, albeit in a different order.

Latin American countries – in this case Bolivia ($0.01) and Ecuador ($0.02) again can be found towards the bottom of the list. Interestingly, however, they are joined by France, with CPC of $0.02. If these results are to be trusted, this shows that the different behaviour of users in different markets can have significant results on Facebook marketing costs…

Facebook CPC by country

Facebook CPC by country

Source: Metricool


Facebook Revenue Statistics

Facebook revenue for Q4 2020 came to a stately $28.1 billion. This compares to $21.5 billion in Q3 2020 (a 31% increase), and $21.1 in Q4 2019 (a 33% increase). It is the highest single quarterly Facebook revenue figure ever generated, until is most likely exceeded in 2021.

(It’s important to state here this figure will also incorporate revenue generated from Instagram and Facebook Messenger, with the former thought to contribute over $20 billion per year).

Facebook revenue by quarter, Q2 2012 – Q4 2020 USD millions

Facebook revenue by quarter, Q2 2012 - Q4 2020 USD millions

Data source: Facebook

Over the course of 2020, total Facebook revenue came to $86 billion, up on $71 billion in 2019 and $56 billion in 2018. Like many other digital organisations, it seems the events of 2020 saw an increase in business for Facebook.

We may note, however, that these results represent something of a slowdown in growth proportionally, with Facebook revenue increasing by around $15 billion in both 2018 and 2019 too.

Facebook annual revenue by quarter, 2012 – 2020 USD millions

Facebook annual revenue by quarter, 2012 - 2020 USD millionsData source: Facebook

Facebook ad revenue

The majority of Facebook revenue is generated through ads: $27.2 billion in Q4 2020, which is by some way ($6 billion) the biggest quarterly figure generated by this point. It’s also a $7 billion increase year-on-year.

Facebook ad revenue by quarter, Q2 2012 – Q4 2020 USD millions

Facebook ad revenue by quarter, USD millions

Data source: Facebook

Facebook annual ad revenue came to $84 billion in 2020, up 21% on 2019’s $70 billion in Facebook ad revenue. It may have been a difficult year, resulting in the aforementioned slowdown in growth. Nonetheless, in the circumstances, being able to drive close to $15 billion in additional revenue is not the worst result imaginable.

Facebook annual ad revenue by quarter, 2012 – 2020 USD millions

Facebook annual ad revenue by quarter, 2012 - 2020 USD millionsData source: Facebook

Facebook revenue by region 

Facebook ad revenue is dominated by the US & Canada, which contributed nearly 50% of the total figure in Q4 2020 – equal to $13 billion. European ad revenue contributed a further quarter of Facebook ad revenue ($6.8 billion), and Asia 17% ($4.7 billion).

These shares have remained more or less consistent over recent years, despite the strong upswing in users in Asia and the rest of the world. As with many apps, despite saturation, the US & Canada remains the engine room of Facebook ad revenue generation.

Facebook ad revenue by region, Q4 2014 – Q4 2020, USD millions

Facebook ad revenue by region

Data source: Facebook

Facebook profit

Facebook has long run in the black, and in Q4 2020 generated $11.2 billion in net revenue, 44% up on Q3 2020’s $7.8 billion net revenue and 53% up on Q4 2019. Given those two quarters were the previous two record quarters by this metric, this would seem to be an impressive three months for Facebook – particularly given relatively low figures logged in Q1 and Q2 2020, around $5 billion a piece.

Facebook net revenue by quarter, USD millions

Facebook net revenue by quarter, USD millionsData source: Facebook

The last two quarters were enough to bring Facebook back to a positive trend in annual net revenue, with a total of nearly $30 billion to 2019’s $18 billion (reduced due to $5 billion’s worth of fines in H1 2019) and $22 billion in 2018.

Facebook annual net revenue, USD millions

Facebook annual net revenue, USD millions

Data source: Facebook

Facebook costs

Facebook’s operating margin stood at 46% in Q4 2020, the highest since Q4 2018 (also 46%). Facebook had endured some more meagre quarters since, with Q2 2020 at only 32%, and Q1 2019 even lower at 22%, albeit this was related to the fines paid in this quarter.

In Q4 2020, Facebook R&D and cost of revenue both came to 19% of revenue, marketing & sales on 12%, and general & administrative expenses on 6%.

This was the only time in 2020 where Facebook R&D costs came to less than 20% of revenue. Both general & administrative and marketing & sales came down through the year, while cost of revenue remained relatively consistent.

Facebook costs as % of revenue, Q4 2018 – Q4 2020

Facebook operating expenses

Source: Facebook

Facebook public trading

Facebook went public in May 2012. At the point of the Facebook IPO, shares were priced at $38, giving it a valuation of $104 billion. This propelled it instantly into the ranks of the top-25 US public companies, as well as being the third-largest US IPO of all time at the time, raising $16 billion.

In the all-time, global chart, this puts Facebook in tenth position.

Biggest IPOs in history

Biggest IPOs in history (as of January 2020)

Source: Statista

At the time of writing (April 2020), Facebook’s market cap was at $880 billion – it’s highest-ever level.

We can see though, that Facebook is not imperious to the forces of the market. It had dropped to $427 billion in March 2020, and as low as $361 billion in December 2018, though in both cases it eventually recovered strongly.

We also saw a crash in January 2017. This was self made, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal – which was naturally had an impact on forecasted and actual financial performance. We can also see data privacy was in the news in March 2018.

Aside from these (significant) wobbles, Facebook’s value has climbed up pretty steadily since the time of the IPO. Yes, even a huge, globally-publicised scandal or a pandemic couldn’t stop Facebook in its tracks.

Though we should also consider these figures also include Instagram, which in many way acts a safety buffer for Facebook – though it has also been implicated in the spread of fake news.

Facebook market cap, 2012 – 2021

Facebook market cap, 2012 - 2021

Source: Macrotrends

In terms of global standings, this makes Facebook one of the world’s most valuable companies. As of the beginning of April 2021 it was in fifth-place. While it’s not quite in the same bracket as the top-four of Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon, which are worth $1.4-2 trillion, it was the best of the rest at the stage this snapshot was taken.

World’s most-valuable companies, April 2021

Most valuable companiesSource: various

At the time of writing (early April 2020), Facebook share price stood at $298.66.

The March 2018 dip saw prices go as low as $153.03, and the December 2018 dip saw Facebook stock priced as low as $124.95. The pandemic low of March 2020 was $146.

Facebook stock price 2012 – 2020

Facebook stock price 2012 - 2020

Source: Macrotrends

Final thoughts

Facebook is the first true giant of the social media age; the app on which you could as safely assume anyone you met would have a profile as they would a telephone number.

In certain markets this perhaps seems less the case than it was. Facebook has lost its cool factor, with more youth-orientated apps of more appeal to younger users. Indeed, that’s the problem with ubiquity – who would want to be on the same social network as their dad or their grandmother after all. (Although this is hardly going to be too worrying to Facebook, as Instagram, which also comes under its control, has quite a lot of power in this market)

Facebook also has serious trust issues, seen as ineffectual in dealing with the spread of fake news and practically complicit in the leaking of data to Cambridge Analytica. The latter hit Facebook in perhaps the only place that could really hurt it – in the financials.

But despite the fact that the only news we ever seem to hear about Facebook is (justifiably) negative, somehow nothing seems to affect it. It keeps adding users – while it may be falling out of favour in more mature markets, it is still adding users in emerging ones. And, despite everything, it just keeps making money.

Indeed, Facebook has something of a captive market when it comes to advertising. Advertisers hoping to get the maximum reach from their social media campaigns surely don’t have much choice but to sign up with the world’s biggest social network. Certainly, others will offer a better match to certain demographics, but there’s nothing that come close to those 2.45 billion global users, which represents a huge diversity of demographics.

As of yet – aside from Google – there doesn’t seem to be any sign of any other company reaching the same sort of scale in terms of reach. Perhaps such a thing is impossible: perhaps we’ll never see anything like Facebook again. We can never say never, of course, but as it stands Facebook is the sole social media titan of this age.

This is something that has become problematic, of course, as a consequence of its lax attitude in certain departments – namely the leaking of personal information and the spread of fake or misleading information. Both have been connected with electoral foul play, just to what extent we may only find out in the future. If it is not conveniently buried by those who successively come to benefit from it…

We also stand to find out if all the personal information we’ve freely given up to Facebook has been used for any other unsavoury purposes.

In either case, certainly the company has shown little appetite to resolve these issues except where pushed. Perhaps the only thing that could bring it to heel would be brave politicians imposing stricter penalties on it for its various ‘slip-ups’. As it stands the current levels seem to be water off a duck’s back. There has been talk of breaking it up – which might take some of the sheen of invulnerability away at least. There seems to be little appetite for that at this current moment, however, beyond the speculative. Mark Zuckerberg has been bullish about this, expressing confidence that any legal challenge could be faced down.

In the midst of all the negativity (again worth pointing out – justified) it’s easy to forget the ways in which Facebook is a marvel. Perhaps it seems old hat to us in the jaded early 2020s, but let’s pretend for a second that we live in the pre-Facebook world. The only social network most of us have ever heard of at this point is the already amusingly-ramshackle MySpace.

Imagine a global online network through which you connect with people across the world. A site through which you could file and share your memories, organise events, and join shared-interest groups with people you might never otherwise meet.

A place where you could share interesting or edifying content, in a range of media, with your network; where you could shop for or sell almost anything; or organise fundraisers. A single login which would let you instantly sign up to media or commercial services around the world. But above all, a space in which you could interact with your friends and acquaintances online – an extension of the ‘real world’.

That would be something quite incredible to the person of 2005 (they haven’t even got a smartphone yet so imagine just how hard their world is going to be rocked). It would seem perhaps like the stuff of science fiction, part of beautiful vision of our online future.

Facebook has offered us all of these things, but it seems as if it has come at a price. A price, however, that it seems we’ve all been willing to pay thus far (and directly into Facebook’s coffers too). Whether or not Facebook cleans up its act, be it by choice or by being compelled to – nothing is impossible, after all – it seems like it is here to stay for now.

Certainly, it will prove an edifying case for scholars looking back at how business was done, and how we lived, in the disruptive first decades of the 21st century.

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