More than half the planet is hooked on social media – Digital 2022 report

Digital 2022 - Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

There are now a record 4.62 billion social media users in the world, which equates to 58% of the entire population of the planet.

Moreover, more people than ever are connected to the digital world, spending more hours – and money – online.

Digital 2022

That’s according to the latest Digital 2022 annual report, that highlights the most notable global findings on digital trends and social media.

The report was compiled by We Are Social, the global, socially led creative agency, and Hootsuite, the global social media management firm.

As the pandemic continues to have a major impact worldwide, Digital 2022 shows the growth of social media users continuing to trend upwards. 

Those 4.62 billion social media users around the world represent year-on-year growth of more than 10% (424 million new users) since this time last year. 

Social media took the largest share of connected media time in 2021 and people say they are spending more time on social channels each day than they did the previous year, at two hours and 27 minutes. 

Facebook remains the world’s most used social platform, however YouTube is fast closing the gap, with its audience growing twice as fast as Facebook’s – YouTube has 2.56 billion active users, equivalent to 88% of the latest published Facebook total. 

The third most used one is Whatsapp, followed by Instagram, whose audience was up more than 6% (85 million users) in just the last 90 days. 

TikTok growth is also accelerating rapidly: up 7.3% (60 million users) over the same period.

Internet adoption and use hit new highs last year

As of January 2022, there were 4.95 billion internet users globally – some 62.5% of the world’s population. 

This is an increase of 4% year-on-year or 192 million people. Average daily time spent using the internet, meanwhile, was almost seven hours across all devices globally – up 1% (4 minutes) year on year.

Digital 2022 - world of the web - Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay
World Wide Web – the internet just keeps on growing.

In the UK, key findings include:

  • 98% of the UK population (16-64, as of Jan 2022) are regular internet users; daily time spent using the internet is six hours 12 minutes per day.
  • 84.3% of 16-64 internet users are active social media users: considerably above the worldwide average; daily time spent using social media is one hour 48 minutes; 17% of 16-64 internet users follow influencers on social media.
  • Use of voice assistants to find information 23.3% of internet users 16-64: UK is ranked 4th; 23.8% of 16-64 internet users own some form of a smart home device: highest figure for all countries ranked.
  • 60.4% of 16-64 internet users make an online purchase weekly; 65.5% of 16-64 internet users make a digital content purchase each month – 92.6% of 16-64 internet users watch TV content via streaming services each month; 57.3% of 16-64 internet users research brands, products, and services online pre- purchase.
  • 8.3% of 16-64 internet users own a cryptocurrency. The worldwide average is 10.2% and the country with the most crypto owners is Thailand, with 20.1%.

Jim Coleman, UK Chief Executive at We Are Social, said: “As we learn to live with the pandemic, it’s incredibly interesting to see how this shift in our lives has affected our digital usage over the last year, especially in the UK. 

“Whether it’s the continuing rise of ecommerce, to social media’s growing ad reach, the way in which we’re navigating the digital world is becoming increasingly entrenched into our everyday lives. 

“Brands need to understand these changes in usage and perception of social media and factor it into their marketing in 2022”

Additional findings in Digital 2022:

  • Contrary to stereotypes, the world’s internet users are not averse to paying for digital content. More than seven in ten working-age internet users (71.5 percent) say that they pay for some form of digital content each month. The world’s internet users spent almost USD $300 billion on digital content in 2021, with more than half of this spent on video games.
  • Social media advertising effectiveness was demonstrated by a growing array of data over the past 12 months. More than one in four internet users aged 16 to 64 (27.6%) discover new brands, products, and services via social media ads.
  • Ecommerce continues its upwards trend – powered in part by the recent and rapid rise of social commerce. Nearly six in ten working age internet users (58.4%) now buy something online every week. New additions to this year’s report, meanwhile, show social commerce accelerating at an ever-increasing rate. Ads in Facebook Marketplace now reach more than 560 million users each month, equating to more than a quarter of the platform’s total ad reach, for example, while advertisers can now reach more than 187 million users with ads in the Instagram Shop tab each month.
  • The number of people who own cryptocurrencies has jumped by more than a third (37.8 percent) since this time last year. More than one in ten working-age internet users now own some form of cryptocurrency.
  • The gaming world has rapidly grown in the last year while the motivation and behaviour of gamers also significantly evolved as interactions and online conversations grew in prominence. The daily time spent using a games console rose to 1 hour and 12 minutes. Meanwhile, more than eight internet users out of ten aged 16-64 declaring to play video games on any device around the world.
Crypto comes of age - Image by A M Hasan Nasim from Pixabay
Crypto boom: more than one in ten working age web users own some kind of cryptocurrency.

“We are seeing rapid changes in culture, the economy and society more broadly”, said Nathan McDonald, Co-founder and Group Chief Executive, We Are Social. 

“The huge shifts in behaviour witnessed over the last 12 months are now permanent, and are set to accelerate even faster.”

“More people than ever are spending time online: beyond social connections, information and entertainment, the growth of social commerce, gaming and spending on cryptocurrencies and digital goods is evidence of real cultural change. 

“It’s never been more important for marketers to have a deep understanding of online communities, cultures and subcultures.”

Hootsuite CMO, Maggie Lower, said: “I am excited to see how brands evolve with social trends as they leverage their platforms to be advocates and community builders. 

“In a time when social distance regulations and non-essential business closures impact businesses everywhere, social commerce is often one of the only ways for brands to stay open and connected with consumers”. 

“If brands and organisations want to remain relevant, they will need to digitise and implement a social commerce strategy.”