At PRB, we work to bridge the gap between research and policy, which includes using social media to disseminate our research online, free of charge. Because social media can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, using it assists us in achieving our mission of informing people around the world about the latest research in population, health, and environment issues, while also empowering them to use the information to advance the well-being of current and future generations.

More Than Half the World’s Population Is Online

In 2050, the world population will reach 9.8 billion, up 31 percent from an estimated 7.5 billion today, according to projections included in PRB’s 2017 World Population Data Sheet. Based on estimates from We Are Social and Hootsuite, more than four billion people around the world are using the internet in 2018—more than half the world’s population. Of those, more than three billion are using social media. About one million people use social media for the first time every day, meaning 11 new users join every second. Social media use—like the world population—is growing rapidly.

PRB Social Media Connects With a Global Audience

PRB has a global network of supporters and partners, so it’s not surprising that our social media followers reflect that diversity. On Facebook, individuals from India, the United States, Nigeria, Pakistan, Nepal, Kenya, Bangladesh, the United Kingdom, Egypt, and Brazil represent the majority of our followers. On Twitter, our largest audience is in the United States, followed by a share of unknowns (Twitter doesn’t require its users to include geographic information). While many social media platforms exist, we primarily focus on these two—Facebook possesses a global predominance while Twitter has a U.S.-based stronghold among the research community.

This global heat map shows PRB’s social media mentions over the past twelve months.
PRB’s social media mentions over the past twelve months span the globe.

A recent report by Pew Research Center found that internet and social media use continue to expand in the developing world and remain high in developed nations. Among those using the internet, individuals in developing countries are more likely than their counterparts in advanced economies to network via platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Using these two social media platforms ensures that we can have the greatest reach when disseminating our global health and population information and tools.

Many of PRB’s international programs focus on countries in sub-Saharan Africa, one of the regions with the lowest internet penetration. Yet internet adoption is rapidly increasing across the continent. The number of African internet users has risen more than 20 percent year after year, with users more than doubling in Benin, Sierra Leone, Niger, and Mozambique and increasing by almost six times in Mali since January 2017. Regardless of country, people ages 18 to 36 are much more likely to use the internet and social media than older generations. Africa has the second largest youth population (ages 15 to 24) among world regions, with 240 million youth.

In an Age of Easy Information, PRB Promotes Good Evidence

To reach audiences in this age of easy information, PRB explores new ways to engage people online with digital products. Infographics, videos, interactive graphs, webinars, and training modules enhance our traditional suite of policy briefs, reports, and bulletins. These resources provide people with data—and present them in a way that is easy to understand and navigate. Being a data facilitator is not only about providing people with timely data but also ensuring that they can then use these data to make informed decisions and hold their policymakers accountable.

Ensuring that 7.5 billion people are data literate is a monumental task, especially when you’re the one counting! Yet, no matter the size of our audience, we pledge to continue disseminating the highest quality global health and population tools and information. We hope you will celebrate World Social Media Day with us by visiting our website, signing up for our newsletter, or following @PRBdata to ensure your important decisions are based on good information.