Digital 2020: Social media use spans almost half global population

  • Social animals: Nearly half of the world’s population (3.8 billion people) now uses social media
  • Internet increase: 4.54 billion people are now online: 298 million new people came online in the past year 
  • Down on data: 64% of internet users are concerned about how companies use their personal data and almost half now use ad blockers 
  • Homes of the future: UK leads the global rankings of smart home device ownership 
  • Voice commands: 43% of internet users now use voice interfaces every month
  • Game time: 4 in 5 internet users play games every month
  • The unconnected: 3.2 billion people remain offline – more than 40% of the world’s population
  • Gender gap: women only account for 45% of global social media users

We Are Social, the socially-led creative agency and Hootsuite, the global leader in social media management, have released Digital 2020, their latest annual report on social media and digital trends. 

The report presents data from every country around the world, with key findings including an ongoing gender gap in social media use, global growth in the use of voice interfaces, and concerns around personal data security. 

Internet: 4.54 billion people are now online, and half of internet users use ad blockers

4.54 billion people are now online, a year-on-year increase of 298 million, or 7%—we are approaching internet penetration of 60%. However, roughly 3.2 billion people around the world remain offline.

The average internet user will spend 6 hours and 43 minutes per day online in 2020—more than 100 days in total. Globally, we will spend a collective 1.25 billion years online this year. People in the Philippines top the daily usage charts, spending an average of 9 hours and 45 minutes per day online, compared to 5 hours 28 minutes in the UK and just 4 hours and 22 minutes in Japan. Google and YouTube are once again the most visited websites, but Yahoo! still remains popular, with its website continuing to receive more traffic than and the world’s top ‘adult’ websites. 

Data concerns are high globally, with almost two-thirds (64%) of adult internet users aged 16 to 64 saying they worry about how companies use their data (62% in the UK). The UK is one of the most worried nations when it comes to fake news; 70% of online over 18s are concerned, compared to a global average of 56%, although the UK has a lower than average use of ad blockers, at 42% of internet users aged 16 to 64 (average 49%). 

Social media: 321 million new social media users, almost half the world is on social 

The report finds that 49% of the world’s total population (3.8 billion people) now uses social media, an increase of 321 million or 9% from 2019. However, the available data indicate that women only account for 45% of the world’s social media users.

Social media users in the Philippines are the most active, averaging 3 hours and 53 minutes on social every day. The global average for daily time spent on social media is 2 hours 24 minutes, accounting for more than one-third of our total internet time. The UK is more discerning with its social media use however, with a relatively conservative average of 1 hour and 42 minutes per day. 

The world’s most-used social platforms are Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp. TikTok, in 7th place, now has 800 million monthly active users, with 500 million of these users in China. We have also seen growth in advertising audience numbers across many major social platforms. Facebook’s data show 1% growth over the past quarter, while Instagram’s ad audience has risen by nearly 6% in the same time period. The standout performer is Pinterest, whose advertising audience numbers jumped 12% after it added a number of new countries to its advertising targeting options. 

Mobile and ecommerce: 5G boosts internet speeds to +100Mbps

There are now 5.19 billion unique mobile users globally and for the first time, more than half (50.1%) of all internet time is spent on mobile devices. 5G is already making an impact, boosting the average mobile data connection speed in South Korea to more than 100Mbps, up from just 51Mbps this time last year. Mobile apps now account for 10 out of every 11 minutes we spend using mobile devices, with web browsing only responsible for 9% of our mobile time.

When it comes to shopping, 74% of internet users aged 16 to 64 purchased a product online in the past month, while 52% made a purchase via a mobile phone. Mobile is now the top device for making online purchases. The world’s ecommerce users spent more than US$3 trillion on online B2C purchases in 2019, with shoppers  spending an average of almost US$500 (approximately £384) each on consumer goods alone – a year-on-year increase of 9%. 

Meanwhile, digitally enabled consumer payments (payments made on the internet and mobile via smartphone apps) are on the rise, with an annual total of US$4.14 trillion in transactions in 2019, representing a 15% increase year-on-year. Global cryptocurrency ownership is also on the rise — up from 5.6% of internet users aged 16 to 64 a year ago to 7.4% today.

Connected domestic life

Use of voice interfaces has grown over the past year. Today, 43.2% of internet users aged 16 to 64 use voice search and voice commands on any device each month, up from 39.5% this time last year.

The number of homes around the world with at least one smart home device increased by a third over the past year to 134.1 million. On average, 11% of internet users now have a smart home device. The UK has the smartest homes globally, with 17% of internet users aged 16 to 64 owning some form of smart home device, followed by the US with 16%.

Internet enabled entertainment 

The internet is now firmly embedded within our TV habits, with two-thirds of the world’s internet users aged 16 to 64 now watching TV content streamed over the internet. Other sources of popular internet-enabled entertainment include streamed music services (70%) and podcasts (41%). 

It’s not just passive entertainment; 4 in 5 internet users aged 16 to 64 say that they play video games each month. Internet users spend an average of 1 hour and 10 minutes a day using games consoles; 20% say they have watched a live stream of others playing games in the past month, and 14% have tuned into an esports tournament in the past 30 days. 

Jim Coleman, UK Chief Executive, We Are Social, said: “The world continues to embrace the internet and social media, with another year of strong growth across all significant aspects of the digital world. 5G’s impact is beginning to show, TV and the internet are morphing into one and in the UK we have embraced the Jetson’s fantasy to have the world’s smartest homes.  

“However, it’s no surprise that with the continued press coverage around Cambridge Analytica and data scandals, data misuse is on our minds. This will no doubt increase as more headlines emerge about data leaks and poor security. But while we are worried about what might happen, it seems it’s harder to give up our social connections online. The biggest change we see this year may not be in time spent on social media, but in people being more aware and in control of the data they are willing to give away.”

Henk Campher, VP of Corporate Marketing, Hootsuite said: “This data confirms what many of us had suspected—that more people will continually be connected with more tools, on more devices and platforms, and through more channels, fundamentally changing how, as a society, we engage with one another. It’s one thing to make the tangible connection; as marketers and brands, we need to take the time to understand how the content we produce connects on a different level with our audience, and also how we make use of the tools we have to connect those that are yet to engage through the internet.”

Source: We Are Social

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