Facebook’s Top Ten Languages, and Who is Using Them

By Susan Su Comment

[Editor’s Note: The following stats are excerpted from Inside Facebook Gold, our membership service tracking Facebook’s business and growth around the world. Click here to learn more about our complete data and analysis offering.]

As Facebook continues to grow around the world, and add the bulk of its new users in countries outside of the United States, users’ language may become an increasingly important factor for marketers and developers working within the ever-diversifying ecosystem. As part of our Inside Facebook Gold data membership service, we are now tracking language usage by total audience size, demographic splits within languages, and languages by country, and the data presented in this post is a sample of what’s available through the full data membership offering. Also as a part of IF Gold, we’ll be presenting updates and growth projections in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back to see where the language leaderboard is going in the months ahead!

To capture new market share in countries outside of the United States, how valuable is it to localization and culturalize? What’s the user acquisition potential if your brand or app does decide to localize?

We surveyed Facebook’s top 15 languages, looking at such stats as the absolute number of people using the site in those languages, and the basic demographic splits by language. Note that these numbers reflect how many people have pointed their Facebook language settings to a given language or variant within a broader language group. The table below presents a data excerpt on the site’s top 10 languages.

Facebook’s #1 language is English, with over 52% of the site’s total userbase accessing the site in that language.

In a distant second is Spanish, with a usage rate of around 15% of the total userbase. Note that this number includes totals for all Spanish variants.

After Spanish and its variants, the dropoff is much sharper. The next few languages in the list line up roughly with Facebook’s country rankings. Those are Turkish, French, and Indonesian, with each language accounting for around 5% of the total userbase. In the 7th spot is Italian, with 3.9% of the total userbase accessing the site in that language. Next is German, with around 2.7% of the total userbase.

After German comes Chinese and Portuguese. For Chinese, note that this figure includes both Traditional and Simplified Chinese, although it’s likely that the majority of these users are using the site in Traditional Chinese — which is used in Taiwan and Singapore, both of which are fairly saturated Facebook markets. [Correction: Traditional Chinese is used in Taiwan and Hong Kong, also a robust Facebook Market. Simplified Chinese is used in the People’s Republic of China and Singapore.]

Here is a look at the what percentage each of these top languages represents out oof the total Facebook audience.

What’s notable about these language stats is not that English is the dominant language of Facebook (that should be obvious), but rather that the next languages in line do not fall neatly in line with Facebook’s list of top countries by overall userbase. That indicates that users in some of the countries that are contributing significantly to Facebook’s “over 400 million” total usage figure are still using the site in English, despite the fact that Facebook is now fully localized in their languages.

As a last note, usage by language gets much more interesting when you start looking at the male / female splits by language, how many users in each of these languages fall into different age groups, and how many people are using the site in each of these languages across Facebook’s top countries.

The full breakdown of Facebook’s top 15 languages, including gender, age, and country splits by language, is only available through Inside Facebook Gold, our data membership service that also includes the monthly Global Monitor report on Facebook’s traffic growth around the world. To get access to the all the data we’re tracking, and to the specific growth projections we’ll soon be adding, please see Inside Facebook Gold at gold.insidenetwork.com/facebook.