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Customer Behaviour

Hootsuite, the global leader in social media management, and We Are Social, the socially led creative agency, have released Digital 2021, their latest annual report presenting the most salient global findings on social media and digital trends.

With much of the world spending a significant amount of 2020 in lockdown, Digital 2021 shows that social media users have grown at the fastest rate in three years. There are now 4.20 billion social media users around the world, representing year-on-year growth of more than 13 percent (490 million new users). The number of social media users is now equivalent to more than 53 percent of the world’s total population.

Perhaps surprisingly, people say they are spending the same amount of time on social media each day as they did the previous year, at 2 hours and 25 minutes. Facebook remains the world’s most used social platform, followed by YouTube and WhatsApp. Facebook-owned apps account for 4 of the top 5 most used social platforms globally.

“Increasingly, consumers connect with brands in the same way they do with their friends and family members, via social and messaging apps,” said Tom Keiser, CEO of Hootsuite. “The pandemic has only accelerated this shift, with even laggard brands now moving to online interactions.”

The nearly 300-page report also outlines the expanded use of social media, with 45% of users aged 16 to 64 searching for brand information on social networks, and 40% using social media for work purposes. A key consideration for marketers is the growing popularity of messaging platforms, with 91% of internet users aged 16 to 64 now using chat apps each month; messaging has surpassed social media platform use, now in second place at 88%.

“Providing the global perspective on demographics and usage patterns on these platforms helps our customers focus their digital strategies and connect with their audience in the most relevant and authentic way,” added Keiser.

Meanwhile, overall time spent online has increased, with the average internet user now spending almost 7 hours per day using the internet across all devices. This means the average user spends more than 2 full days online out of a 7 day week—this has increased by 16 minutes, or 4 percent, year-on-year. Digital 2021 shows that there are now 4.66 billion people around the world using the internet in January 2021, up by 316 million (7.3 percent) since this time last year.

Jim Coleman, UK chief executive, We Are Social commented: “It’s remarkable to see the impact the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns has had on our digital lives over the last year. The pandemic has accelerated a digital shift, and many of the trends we’ve seen are set to continue in 2021 both in the UK and globally. Social and digital have now become inextricably woven into a greater number of lives at a deeper level than ever before. Given this, it’s never been more important for marketers to understand online and social media cultures in order to reach people in a relevant way.”

Additional headlines in Digital 2021, which looks at social media, internet, mobile and ecommerce trends globally, include:

  • Mobile’s phenomenal growth to become our first screen, accounting for a greater amount of people’s time than live TV.
  • Rise of ecommerce: 77 percent of internet users aged 16 to 64 now say that they buy something online each month, with food and personal care the fastest-growing consumer ecommerce category.
  • Silver surfers: Older age groups are the fastest-growing segments among some of the top social platforms’ audiences; users over the age of 50 are growing more quickly than any other age group on Facebook and Snapchat.
  • Gaming popularity through generations: More than 90 percent of Gen Z internet users say they play games, compared to 67% of those aged 55 to 64.

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