Social Networks
by Cultural Areas

Della Pepa Gabriele, Febres Medina Andrea,
Ghio Caterina, Granzotto Francesca,
Rondi Paola, Stefani Elena


At the beginning of 2019, according to the Global Digital Yearbook, the digital users of the 44 most socially active countries in the World spent more than 2 hours and 16 minutes per day on Social Networks. The report, carried out by Hootsuite and We Are Social, pointed out that these countries exceed the 36 minutes average amount of time per day spent on Social Networks via any device.
The visualization represents these data dividing the world referring to the Human Geography (2008) of Jerome D. Fellmann. The countries can be allocated in 11 macro-regions that share cultural and historical experiences. A further division was made for Europe, which was split in three parts: Northern, Southern and Middle European cultural area.

Visualization structure

The dataset considers 43 Social Networks that have been clustered in five families by type of content: Blogging, Video Hosting, Messaging, Image Sharing and Job Networking. On the Y axis, each family has its Social Networks ordered by ranking, from the most to the least used in the World. Every Social has its own simplified icon and its representative colour. Horizontally, there are the cultural areas listed by geographical order from West to East; each one of them has its countries ordered by percentage of Social Network Penetration (SNP).

Axis construction and clustering.

1 — How to read the visual choices

Average Social Network Family Penetration


The coloured circles represent the average percentage of Social Network Penetration of each Social Family in each cultural area. The biggest outlined circle would represent the maximum usage (100%) of a Family of Socials or a single Social inside a Cultural Area. Every circle stands for an incremental value of 10%.

SNP is the percentage of usage of a Social Network or a Family of Social Networks related to the population of a cultural area.

Social Networks Penetration

Coloured Lines

The coloured lines represent the average percentage of Social Network Penetration of each Social. The length of each line is based on the same unit of measurement of the circular areas.
The colours were chosed according to the institutional colour of each Social; each line ends with the logo of each Social to help the reader recognize them.

Countries that use most each Social

National ISO code

Next to the logo there is the ISO country code (e.i. ITA stands for Italy), chosen to indicate which country mostly influences the average percentage usage of each Social Network. If there is a tie, the country with the most Social Network Penetration is shown. If the cultural area has only one country there is no code.

2 — Time of usage

On the top of the visualization can be found the average amount of time per day spent using Social Networks via any device, in hours and minutes, calculated among all the countries part of the same cultural area. The unit of measurement was chosen in relation to the time spent networking in Philippines, which occupies the first place in the original ranking with the longest amount of time spent per day on Social Networks: 4 hours and 12 minutes.
Two data stands out the most: 1 hour and 23 minutes spent in the Sino-Japanese area compared to 3 hours and 4 minutes spent in the South-Eastern Asian area. This highlightes the differences that occurr even in the nearby areas, where cultural behaviours are different.

Examples of different cultural habits.

3 — Social Network Families penetration

The first level of reading is the comparison that the reader can make between the different Social Network penetrations of a single Family among the world (horizontally) or of a single cultural area among the different tipes of Socials (vertically).
The example below shows the SNP of Video Hosting in the Indian and in the Sino-Japanese areas. Even if in the Indian area only two socials are popular, the SNP is deeper than the one in the Sino-Japanese area that uses four different platforms.

Video Hosting penetration examples.

4 — Social Network popularity

Each colored line stands for the percentage of usage of each Social Network. This data is obtained by calculating the weighted average of usage of each Social in each cultural area, counting zero when the Social in not used in a country. Social Networks with the highest percentage of usage are the ones used in the majority of the countries, while the ones with a low percentage are used only in few countries. The example below how different SNs penetrated differently in nearby cultural areas. Focusing on the case of Whatsapp, it is interesting to notice that in countries belonging to the Sino-Japanese area other SNs have more importance than the most used Messaging platform in the world. In general, the Sino-Japanese area has developed more cultural related platforms to help interact the population.

Comparison between different cultural areas.


Social Networks by Cultural Areas

Hootsuite, WeAreSocial (2019)