HONG KONG: Globally, more people are now using instant messaging platforms every day than are using social networking sites, according to new research from TNS, and this trend is being led strongly by Asia.

The findings come from the market researcher's Connected Life study of over 60,000 internet users worldwide, which reported that 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.

More than half (55%) of global internet users are on IM platforms daily, compared to the 48% using a social networking site, and the figure is even higher in emerging 'mobile-first' markets.

In Asia, daily IM usage jumps to 77% in Malaysia, 76% in Singapore, 74% in Thailand, 73% in Hong Kong and 69% in both China and Taiwan; developed countries are lagging behind with just 39% in the UK and 35% in the US using IM platforms on a daily basis.

"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," said Joseph Webb, Global Director of Connected Life.

But that hasn't stopped social platforms continuing to grow, as TNS registered a 6% uplift in daily usage. Almost one third of global internet users (30%) say they use Facebook every day.

Newer platforms attract smaller audiences, but these tend to be more active, TNS reported. For example, 40% of Vine users and 44% of Snapchat users said they watched branded content on those platforms every week.

Webb urged brands using IM platforms to "share limited content that is genuinely relevant and valuable" and cited a recent breakfast promotion campaign Starbucks ran in WeChat as "a brilliant example".

This triggered a morning alarm and rewarded customers with a half-price breakfast if they arrived at the store within the hour.

Data sourced from TNS; additional content by Warc staff