Report: More than half of global population uses social media

More than 50% of people on the planet use social media, with looking for news and entertainment cited as the main drivers for this attention, according to a just-published report.

In collaboration with Hootsuite, We Are Social has launched the "Digital 2020: July Global Statshot Report" to take a snapshot of the social media landscape worldwide. Currently, 3.96 billion people use social media, accounting for roughly 51% of the global population.

However, as some social media companies restrict the use of their platforms to people aged 13 or above, the percentage of people worldwide using social media is even higher - nearly two-thirds (65%) of the world’s total ‘eligible’ population now use social media.

Adoption is still growing rapidly too. Worldwide user numbers have surged by more than 10% 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.

The reports cited a GlobalWebIndex study, stating that "staying up to date with news and current affairs” was the greatest motivator for social media use at a global level, followed by socialising and entertainment. Respondents said they had used social media to fill up spare time and find funny and scintillating content when it comes to entertainment.

Conversely, people are also increasingly turning to social platforms when they want to learn more about the products and services they want to buy. Globally, social media is now the second most popular destination for internet users looking for information about brands, just behind search engines, but it has already surpassed search engines among younger audiences.

More than half of female internet users aged between 16 and 24 said that they had used social media to research products and services. Only 46% said they had used search engines.

The flourishing social media landscape is getting even more vibrant now. According to the report, a social media user possessed almost nine different accounts across different platforms. Facebook continued to be the world’s most popular social media platform with more than 2.6 billion monthly active users. At the same time, two billion people used its top messenger platform WhatsApp.

Instagram has also seen impressive growth over recent times, with the company’s latest advertising audience data indicating that more than 1.08 billion people now use the platform each month. Instagram is still comfortably ahead of TikTok when it comes to monthly active users, but the report also stated that TikTok is still growing rapidly. However, its growth could be hampered by the Indian government’s recent move to block it in that country.

It’s also worth stressing that many of these platforms’ audiences overlapped. Only a small fraction of each platform’s user base was unique, with more than 95% of Facebook’s users aged 16 to 64 reporting that they used at least one other social platform.

This figure was even higher for smaller platforms, with the latest data indicating that marketers could reach more than 99% of the users of Snapchat, Twitter and TikTok via other platforms.

The report concludes that marketers could focus more on the creative and contextual opportunities offered by each social platform and try to avoid getting distracted by the constantly changing user numbers.

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