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5 Numbers and What They Meant for Social Media in 2016

2016 has been an eventful year in social media. We've witnessed the ascendance of Snapchat and the struggles of Twitter. Facebook targeting new networks it sees as threats and major acquisitions. So let's take a look back at a list of 5 numbers and what they meant for social media in 2016.

1 Billion - WhatsApp Users

WhatsApp reaches 1 billion users

In February WhatsApp reached the 1 billion user milestone. In reaching this Facebook now has two separate messaging services, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, with over 1 billion users. Though WhatsApp is primarily a messenger app, its value is far greater than just that and Facebook clearly sees bigger things for WhatsApp than that as well. They’ve started integrating Snapchat-like features into the app and have been experimenting with sharing user data between WhatsApp and Facebook.

$26.6 Billion - Microsoft Purchases LinkedIn

Microsoft purchases LinkedIn for $26.6 billion

In June we saw Microsoft purchase the professional network LinkedIn for $26.6 Billion. Though surprising at first, this was a clear move from Microsoft to increase its foothold in not only social networking but also business and the CRM space as they face stiff competition from the likes of Salesforce. Since the purchase changes have been coming slowly including redesigned company pages. The most significant changes have been in LinkedIn’s much more aggressive moves towards data collection. LinkedIn has had a wealth of professional data for a long time but these actions make it clear where Microsoft sees the value in the service. They recently rolled out a salary comparison tool which at its core is about gathering more specific salary data for the platform. Additionally, they’ve revamped their endorsement system for greater data gathering and accuracy.

150 Million - Daily Active Users on Snapchat

Snapchat reaches 150 million daily active users

Also in June, Snapchat announced that there are over 150 Million daily active users on the social network. This was a major event for a number of reasons. Firstly they reached this in 4 years whereas it took Facebook 5 years to reach the same number but the biggest reason for celebration was that this number brought Snapchat above Twitter in terms of daily active users. Twitter, as we all know by now, has been struggling lately and this news just continues to show that the momentum has shifted elsewhere. Snapchat has been on the rise and is now seen as a threat to Facebook, as evidenced by Facebook’s constant copying of the service, in a way that Twitter was copied many years ago.

140 Characters - Twitter Relaxes What Counts

Twitter relaxes 140 character count

In an effort to counter growth stagnation, Twitter announced in May that they would be making some changes to what counts towards the 140 character limit on the service. These were welcome changes which included photos, videos, quote tweets, and polls no longer counting towards the limit, allowing for longer tweets to still include multimedia which has been shown to help improve engagement. Beyond changes to character limits, Twitter also announced changes to the @mention system and the ability to retweet yourself. Though some of these changes are still in the works, they signified that Twitter was looking to make some real changes to the service though it might be too little too late.

500 Million - Users on Instagram


Facebook and its services asserted their dominance quite a bit this year. Instagram announced that it had reached 500 million users and 300 million daily active users this summer. While the number of users has been a major boon for Instagram, and one that shows just how popular the service has become, another stat that was slightly obscured was that the average user session on Instagram was  21 minutes. This indicated that not only were there a ton of people on the service, but that they were also heavily invested in the service and using it. Mix that in with the introduction of Instagram Stories to combat the rise of Snapchat and it’s clear that Instagram is fighting aggressively to maintain its growth and dominance.

What was the most significant number for social media in 2016 in your eyes? Where do you see things going in 2017? Let me know below in the comments.

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