TORONTO - Unless an unexpected flood of new users finally decide to join Facebook or learn to tweet, Canada may soon lose its social media crown.
Last year, Canada had the most social networking users in the world on a per capita basis, according to research firm eMarketer.
About 47.4 per cent of Canadians were using social media at least once a month in 2011, compared to 47.2 per cent of Americans, 42.4 per cent of South Koreans and 40.2 per cent of Australians.
Worldwide, social network users represented about 17.3 per cent of the global population.
But social media is expected to grow a little faster in the U.S. in 2012, which would push Canada down into second place on the list.
Not much new user growth is expected for social networking in Canada in the years ahead. Last year's 47.4 per cent of Canadians using social media is expected to increase by less than two percentage points a year, or about 800,000 new users annually, and hit about 53 per cent in 2014.
There were an estimated 16.1 million social networking users in Canada last year, of which 15.4 million were on Facebook, according to eMarketer.
Facebook had signed up 95.2 per cent of Canada's social media users, 59 per cent of Canada's Internet users and 45.1 per cent of the total population.
But even as the overall number of social media users grows, interest in Facebook is expected to wane. About 700,000 new Canadian accounts are projected for this year, followed by annual increases of just 500,000 in the following couple of years.
The percentage of social media users who use Facebook monthly will drop from 95.3 per cent this year, to 93.9 per cent in 2013, and 92.6 per cent in 2014, according to eMarketer.
By 2014, eMarketer predicts one in four global citizens will be using social media.