The New Social Frontier: Instant Messaging Usage Jumps 12% as More People Opt for Closed Platforms

  • New report from global research consultancy TNS shows 55% of global
    internet users are on instant messaging (IM) every day
  • The US still lags the ‘mobile-first’ markets with 35% of US internet
    users using IM every day, but is catching up quickly (up 10% compared
    with 2014)
  • Facebook remains the firm favorite across digital platforms both
    globally and in the US, with WeChat and WhatsApp rising up the ranks
    in many markets, but still relatively small in the US.
  • IM offers significant opportunities for brands that successfully move
    to a content model

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The popularity of instant messaging (IM) has soared over the past year,
with a 12% uplift in daily usage as more people opt for closed messaging
platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Viber.

Over half of internet users worldwide (55%) are now using instant
messaging every day, while 76% are using it on a weekly basis, according
to Connected Life, a study of over 60,000 internet users worldwide from
global research consultancy TNS. Despite this, social platforms are
still rising in popularity with a 6% uplift in daily usage.

Instant Messaging is particularly dominant in emerging ‘mobile-first’
markets, with daily usage rising even higher in markets like China
(69%), Brazil (73%), and South Africa (64%). By contrast, some Western
markets are lagging behind, including the US (35%) and the UK (39%). The
US is catching up quickly though, with daily IM use up 10% compared to

Facebook has maintained its position as the world’s favorite social
platform; almost one third of global internet users (30%) say they use
it every day. Facebook’s dominant position among US internet users is
even stronger at 53%, followed by YouTube (26%), Instagram and Twitter.

This data shows that consumers are even more connected to each other,
and across multiple platforms. While IM popularity is rising,
traditional social media platforms are still holding strong, allowing
content to go viral more quickly. The challenge for brands is to create
content that consumers actually want to share.

Whilst these newer platforms still attract a smaller audience overall,
they are often far more active; 40% of Vine users and 44% of Snapchat
users say they watch branded content on those platforms every week,
while 43% of WeChat’s user base use it to access information and
services about a company.

Kris Hull, Digital Director for the Americas, said:

“Apps like Snapchat, WeChat, Line and WhatsApp are sweeping up new users
every day, particularly younger consumers who want to share experiences
with a smaller, specific group, rather than using public, mainstream
platforms like Facebook or Twitter. As people’s online habits become
ever more fragmented, brands need to tap into the growing popularity of
IM and other emerging platforms. The need for a content-driven approach
across IM, social and traditional channels has never been clearer.

“Yet at the same time brands need to be very careful. Instant messaging
is a more closed medium, meaning it is essential to share limited
content that is genuinely relevant and valuable. Starbucks recently ran
a breakfast promotion campaign via WeChat, which triggered a morning
alarm and rewarded customers with a half-price breakfast if they arrived
at the store within the hour. This is a great example of using IM to
create positive word-of-mouth and build up customer loyalty.”

Further research from TNS showed that although IM users are wary of
brands interrupting them, they are more concerned with how content they
share impacts their own image.

Kris Hull said:

“The challenge of how to get the most out of TV used to be the biggest
challenge for advertisers. Now it’s about moving from a broadcast to a
content creation model that gets people talking and sharing across
different platforms.”

Notes to editors

About Connected Life

is a leading global study of the digital attitudes and
behaviors of 60,500 internet users across 50 countries, exploring how
technology is transforming the lives of consumers across the world. It
offers essential insight into the impact of the growing digital
ecosystem on the media landscape.

Connected Life also uncovers new and exciting opportunities for
marketers to connect with their consumers in this increasingly complex
environment; it is a powerful tool that helps brands make better digital

The fieldwork was undertaken in all markets between May and August 2015.

For further information, visit

About TNS

TNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market
entry, innovation, brand switching and customer strategies, based on
long-established expertise and market-leading solutions. With a presence
in over 80 countries, TNS has more conversations with the world’s
consumers than anyone else and understands individual human behaviors
and attitudes across every cultural, economic and political region of
the world.

TNS is part of Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP
and one of the world’s largest insight, information and consultancy
groups. Please visit
for more information.

About Kantar

Kantar is the data investment management arm of WPP and one of the
world’s largest insight, information and consultancy groups. By uniting
the diverse talents of its 12 specialist companies, the group is the
pre-eminent provider of compelling data and inspirational insights for
the global business community. Its 30,000 employees work across 100
countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy
disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at
every point of the consumer cycle. The group’s services are employed by
over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies. For further information,
please visit us at

For more information:

Please visit


Bertina Bus, 212-991-6171