One in every four minutes online is spent on social networks, and nearly half of adults worldwide are visiting on mobile devices, but why is Europe bucking certain trends on social?

Measuring data from nearly 50,000 web browsers, GlobalWebIndex’s ‘Social Q1 2015’ report unveils insight into social networking behaviours across 33 global markets, with some telling evidence for EU marketers to take away.

Facebook leads

Taking the lion’s share of active users (42%), Facebook is still leagues ahead of the competition, with over half of users engaging with the site more than once a day, despite a 9% drop-off during the last year.

The report also finds that adults are spending 1.69 hours a day on social networks, accelerated by ease of access, with 52% of 25-34 year-olds now getting their fix via mobile devices.

However, it’s the emerging web markets such as Mexico and Argentina that are leading the race with as many as 65% accessing a social network on mobile last month. For Germany, France, Belgium and Netherlands, a mature web population intact, rates of social network usage on mobiles range from 24-31%.

Looking at entire regions on the same metric, Latin America leads with 54% followed by Middle East & Africa (53%), Asia Pacific (47%), while North America and Europe lag behind with 36%.

Neat divides

Just over a third of Europeans and North Americans are using social networks on mobile devices, notably behind other regions, but demographics are playing a pivotal role here.

Fast-growth countries still have relatively low penetration rates, reports GlobalWebIndex, so their online populations tend to be skewed towards “young, urban and affluent demographics”.

The group also notes: “In countries like India and Indonesia, for example, internet penetration is still below 20%, meaning that Millennials account for the large majority of adults who are online.

“In contrast, internet penetration is much higher in the US, Canada and in most European markets; that means older groups are much better represented in these markets.”

However, these ‘older groups’ are some of the least likely to be using mobile for their social networking, with 25-34 year-olds leading the trend worldwide on 52%. It’s also important to note the role mobile technology has played in the development of the web within fast-growth regions.

What this all means is that there’s a ‘neat divide’ in mobile networking between fast-growth markets and mature nations, says GlobalWebIndex.

“Mexico is the most active mobile networking market of all; nearly two thirds of its internet users are doing this. At the other end of the spectrum, Japan, Australia and several European markets are much less engaged.”