English, R

Comparing number of users in social medias

Everyone uses them. I don’t deny it, but I use them myself. Facebook, twitter, instagram and many others. There are even people who earn money using them.

However, there is a huge amount of BS published every day in these social medias and if we stop to think, why is everyone wasting their time reading and watching them?

Why not learn a new language? Or learn how to code? Or even how to cook? There are many websites where you can master those topics and we don’t see many people using them.

So, let’s code a bit with R and see if these difference is huge or is just my mind complaining about too many kittens videos on YouTube.

There a YouTube channel that explains statistics as it were for a cat – La statistique expliquée a mon chat – Yes, it is in french.

We are going to consider the main social medias out there, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. According to Smart Insight [link], Facebook alone has 1,871 million active users, it is 18.57% of all social media users (see how we calculate this in the code below).

## Importing the data

social_md <- c("Facebook", "WhatsApp", "Facebook Messenger", "QQ", "WeChat", "QZone", "Instagram", "Tumblr", "Twitter", "Baidu Tieba", "Snapchat", "Skype", "Sina Weibo", "Viber", "LINE", "Pinterest", "yy", "Linkedin", "BBM", "Telegram", "VKontakte", "Kakaotalk")
n_users <- c(1871, 1000, 1000, 877, 846, 632, 600, 550, 317, 300, 300, 300, 297, 249, 217, 150, 122, 106, 100, 100, 90, 49)

total_users <- sum(n_users)
perc_users <- n_users/total_users

This is about one fifth of all users. Are all these people wasting their time? Not everyone, there are some people making money with it – Mina Thibodeau [Link] points out that you can earn money with Facebook.

Alright, some people are not spending their time carelessly on Facebook. But, if we compare their number of users with other online learning communities. Lets compare it with Duolingo, edX, Coursera, Udemy and Khan Academy. How many users they have?

  • Duolingo: 110 million users [1]
  • edX: 10 million users [2]
  • Coursera: 23 million users [2]
  • Udemy: 10 million users [3]
  • Khan Academy: 12 million users per month [4]

Those numbers don’t even get near the number of users of Facebook (1,871 million users). We can compare them using R – take a look in the code and in the graphic.

learning_media <- c("Duolingo", "edX", "Coursera", "Udemy", "Khan Academy")
num_users <- c(110, 10, 23, 10, 12)

# Now, let's convert those numbers to percentage:
perc_users_fb <- round((num_users/1871)*100, 2)

png(file = "/home/fernando/desktop/social_learning.png", width = 600, height = 400)
barplot(perc_users_fb, ylab = "Percentage (%)", xlab = "Learning Media", names.arg = learning_media)
Barplot Comparison Facebook Users and Others Users
Comparison between number of Facebook users and other learning websites users

“But neither everyone wants to learn” – You can say, and in this matter, I would like to quote James Altucher [link]: “When you stop learning, you are dead”. I modified a bit of the sentence, but thats the point.

So, why people don’t join those social medias to learn? Most of them are free – you don’t pay a penny to learn. Is it too hard? Di Xu [link] wrote a article about online courses and he points out that to succeed in the online sphere, you have to have some “self direct skills”. He also shows that the difficulties are related to:

  • Learn independently;
  • Manage time;
  • Keep track of their progress;
  • Overcome technical issues and isolation;
  • Talk in groups

Number one problem with online course can be manage time – since they are spending all of it in Facebook – just search for “how to manage your time” in Google and you find out numerous methods.

People still don’t realize the potential of online courses, you can learn from your home, comfy, and without costs – just paying your internet bill (that you are going to pay anyway).

I have been using edX and Duoling since 2014. Now I am trying Udemy and they are amazing – I could never thought I would attend classes in Delft University of Technology, or chat with people at Université Laval. So, I think you should start today, visit one of the aforemencionated webistes and start learning something new (and get away from Facebook). 🙂


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