Digital 2020: More than Half of the People on Earth Now Use Social Media

Digital 2020: More than Half of the People on Earth Now Use Social Media

Jul. 21, 2020

More than half the world’s population now uses social media, according to the latest Digital 2020 report from We Are Social, the socially-led creative agency and Hootsuite, the global leader in social media management. 

Digital 2020: July Global Statshot Report shows that 3.96 billion people use social media today, accounting for around 51 percent of the global population. When considering that most social media companies restrict the use of their platforms to people aged 13 and above, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of the world’s total ‘eligible’ population now uses social media.

Worldwide social media user numbers have surged by more than 10 percent over the past 12 months, with an average of more than 1 million people starting to use social media for the first time every day since this time last year. With more than 376 million new users since July 2019, that translates to almost 12 new users every second, suggesting that user numbers are growing even faster today than they were at the start of 2020.

In terms of platform success, Instagram and LinkedIn have enjoyed impressive recent growth. Brands can now reach 1.08 billion people using ads on Instagram, with the platform adding 111 million new users (more than 1 million a day) to its advertising reach in the past three months. Meanwhile, LinkedIn now has 700 million registered users; the platform’s global user base grew by more than 25 million over the past 3 months, equating to quarter-on-quarter growth of almost 4 percent.

People 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. 

However, social networks have already overtaken search engines amongst younger audiences, with more than half of female internet users aged between 16 and 24 saying that they use social networks when researching products and services. This compares to 46 percent who say that they use search engines.

Nathan McDonald, global chief executive, We Are Social, said:

"Our lives are becoming increasingly interwoven with the digital world, and the acceleration of social media use globally is another reflection of this. It's significant that so many of us are now on social media, using it in a variety of different ways; for news, opinions, information and entertainment, to socialise and, increasingly, to inform purchase decisions. Social media has been an integral part of the way we communicate with one another for a long time, but this evolution shows just how much it impacts multiple aspects of our lives right now, and in the future."


Tom Keiser, CEO of Hootsuite, said:

"As expected, the data confirms that we've seen huge shifts in social and digital behaviour 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. The challenge organizations—from business to nonprofits to government agencies to healthcare organizations—face today is how to manage all of these rapid shifts. Organizations need a holistic approach to managing their social and digital communications to remain connected while also listening to the changing social conversations to help ensure they are purposefully engaging with their audience."


For more data and insights into the use of digital, mobile and social media around the world, see the full July Global Statshot Report, along with We Are Social’s collection of additional Digital 2020 reports, here.  

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