In their newly released Digital 2020: July Global Statshot Report, socially-led creative agency We Are Social and social media management firm Hootsuite indicate that a whopping 3.96 billion people use social media today – that’s, for the first time, more than 50% of the global population in absolute terms, but in fact 65% of the world’s total ‘eligible’ population when considering that most social media companies restrict access to their platforms for people aged 13 and above.
This milestone is all the more impressive when looking at the adoption rate, which has been growing by more than 10% worldwide over the past 12 months with an average of more than one million people starting to use social media for the first time every day since this time last year. What’s more, over 376 million new users have joined social platforms since July 2019, which translates into almost 12 new users every second and suggests that “user numbers are growing even faster today than they were at the start of 2020,” says the report.
This surge was propelled in part by the global pandemic, as explained Tom Keiser, CEO of Hootsuite, in a statement: “As expected, the data confirms that we’ve seen huge shifts in social and digital behavior since Covid-19 lockdowns started around the world. Social media and messenger use has skyrocketed and even digital advertising has been forced to become more adaptive and agile.”
“People are also using a wider variety of social media platforms than ever before, with the latest data from GlobalWebIndex showing that the typical social media user is now a member of almost 9 different platforms,” indicates the report, that goes on to explain that during the lockdowns, “people spent a considerable amount of time using social media and trying out new apps.”
Although Facebook remains the world’s most popular social media platform with more than 2.6 billion monthly active users, Instagram and LinkedIn have enjoyed the most impressive recent growth, with 111 million new users on the former and 25 million new users on the latter in the past three months. Not far behind, TikTok is also growing rapidly – a rise that could be hampered by the Indian government’s recent move to block the platform in the country.
Geographical disparities remain, with 70% of the total population in Northern America using social media today vs to 7% in Middle Africa, for example. These disparities also combine with a gender divide, whereby women account for 55% of all social media users in Northern America vs 25% across Southern Asia.
From a brands’ perspective, users are “also increasingly turning to social platforms when they want to learn more about products and services that they want to buy. Globally, social networks are now the second most popular destination for Internet users looking for information about brands, with only search engines used by a greater number of people,” says the report, adding that for younger audiences, particularly female internet users aged between 16 and 24, social networks have already overtaken search engines.
As the report highlights, “Given the broadening role of social media in people’s lives, it’s important that marketers and communicators think more broadly about where social media fits in their plans.”