When you log on to Twitter or LinkedIn, it feels like you are connected to everyone on Earth.

Whether you want to get a taste of culture from other continents, or you want to stay on top of the latest opportunities and events in far flung places – social media allows you to connect with anyone with similar interests, no matter where they are located.

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But how representative is the social media world of the real population, exactly? Today’s infographic from Raconteur breaks it all down.

Real World vs. Social Media

Quantifying the Social World

There are roughly 2.8 billion social media users in the world – a penetration of about 37%, according to a recent report by Hootsuite.

Region Social Media Population Actual Population % Penetration
Asia-Pacific 1.51 billion 4.15 billion 36%
Americas 0.60 billion 1.01 billion 60%
Europe 0.41 billion 0.84 billion 49%
Africa 0.17 billion 1.23 billion 14%
Middle East 0.09 billion 0.25 billion 38%
Global 2.79 billion 7.48 billion 37%

While there are not many surprises here, things get more interesting as we dive deeper into the data.

Specifically, as we break down Asia-Pacific’s massive population and level of social media penetration, you’ll see that sub-regions have attributes that are quite different.

  % of Global Social Media Users % of Actual Population Difference
North America 8% 5% +3%
Central America 4% 3% +1%
South America 9% 6% +3%
West Europe 8% 6% +2%
Middle East 3% 3% -
Africa 6% 16% -10%
East Europe 7% 6% +1%
Central Asia <1% 1% -
South Asia 9% 24% -15%
East Asia 33% 22% +11%
Southest Asia 11% 9% +2%
Oceania 1% 1% -

The regions with plus numbers (i.e. North America, +3%) have a higher proportion of social media users relative to their actual population. The areas with negative numbers (i.e. Africa, -10%) have less people on social media than one would guess from their total population. These latter areas are also where social media will likely encounter the most growth in users in the near future.

The different sub-regions in Asia are particularly interesting to look at. East Asia is the most “over-represented” population in the social media world with a +11% differential. Meanwhile, neighboring South Asia (-15%) and Southeast Asia (+2%) are two regions that don’t have nearly as many people connected through those mediums.

Article by Jeff Desjardins, Visual Capitalist