How Much Do We Use Social Media? – The Power of Social Media

Global Internet Usage and Social Media

How Much Do We Use Social Media?

While researching a previous post, the Tone of Voice Roadmap, I came across some information on how much we use the internet and how much time we spend on social media platforms.

I was blown away by some of the data available on the subject. I was interested to see if our usage had increased substantially in 2020 with the advent of COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns. I’ve consolidated some of the information here, so this post is definitely for you if you love stats! I have drawn this data from reliable sources and have cross-referenced the data where I could.

The flip side of our increasing social media use naturally points to what issues arise from us spending so much time on connected devices. I will discuss this in my next post in the Power of Social Media series, The Emerging Social Dilemmas of Social Media.

Our Digital World

According to Hootsuite’s The Global State of Digital 2021 report, as of January 2021, the total global population was 7.83 billion people, 56.4% of which live in urbanized areas. The following information comes from Hootsuite’s report.

The global population includes:

Unique mobile phone users totalling 5.22 billion 66.6% of the global population
Internet users totalling 4.66 billion 59.5% of the global population
Active social media users totalling 4.20 billion 53.6% of the global population

The global number of active social media users increased by 490 million (13.2%) compared to January 2020, with over 1 billion new users in the last three years.

The average internet user spends nearly 7 hours per day on the internet: a 9% increase from the previous year. This means that we spend nearly 40% of our waking hours on connected devices.

The baby boomers were one of the fastest-growing audiences on Facebook and Instagram in the year up to January 2021.

The amount of money spent online to purchase food and personal care items jumped more than 40% in the past year.

Of the internet users aged between 16 – 64, in one month before January 2021:

  • 81.5% searched for a product or service online
  • 90.4% visited an online retail site or store
  • 76.8% purchased a product online
  • 50% ordered takeaway online

Some of these increases are clearly attributable to COVID-19, the lockdowns and social distancing.

Growth in the Global Internet Population

Domo Data Never Sleeps 8.0
Click image to view full size creates an infographic each year called Data Never Sleeps. They are now up to their 8th edition. This infographic identifies how much data is generated every minute and the growth of the global internet population (GIP) each year. Here is that growth for the past 7 years:

2014 3 billion
2015 3.2 billion
2016 3.4 billion
2017 3.8 billion
2018 4.3 billion
2019 4.39 billion
2020 4.57 billion

The Power of Social Media

How much do we use social media? Check out the number of active users (in millions) on the most used social media platforms as of July 2021.

Social Media Platform No. of Active Users (in millions) Owned by
Facebook 2,853 Facebook
YouTube 2,291 Google
WhatsApp 2,000 Facebook
Facebook Messenger 1,300 Facebook
Instagram 1,386 Facebook
WeChat 1,242 Tencent
TikTok 732 Douyin
Douyin 600 Bytedance
Snapchat 514 Snap Inc
Pinterest 478 Various
Reddit 430 Advance Publications
Twitter 397 Various

Some of this information came from Statista in their report Global Social Networks Ranked by Number of Users. Next, I researched who these platforms were owned by, which got a bit muddy in a couple of cases!

As you can see, Facebook owns four out of the top five platforms, which also feature in the lists of the top app downloads in June 2021.

Over 98% of social media users aged between 16 to 64 also use at least a second social media platform or more. This data excludes users in China. Facebook is often used as the yardstick to measure the use of other social media platforms as it has the largest number of active users. So, active Facebook users also use:

YouTube 92.3%
Instagram 74.8%
Twitter 53.8%
TikTok 35.8%
Pinterest 35.2%
Snapchat 29.6%
Reddit 17.7%

44.8% of global internet users say they use social media platforms to research products or services, not just dedicated search engines like Google.

Given the numbers of active users on social media platforms compared to the total global population, I think this clearly shows how much we use social media!

An Internet Minute

The table below shows the amount of data used via various platforms EVERY MINUTE of every hour of every day! This information has been sourced from (see above) and CloudNine, which reports on Lori Lewis’ annual infographic (similar to Domo).

2020 Internet Minute
Click image to view full size
Platform Action 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Various Email Platforms Emails Sent 150 mil 156 mil 187 mil 188 mil 190 mil
WhatsApp & Messenger Messages Sent 20.8 mil Missing 38 mil 41.6 mil 59 mil
Messages Text Messages Missing 16 mil 18 mil 18.1 mil 19 mil
You Tube Video Views 2.78 mil 4.1 mil 4.3 mil 4.5 mil 4.7 mil
Google Searches 2.4 mil 3.5 mil 3.7 mil 3.8 mil 4.1 mil
Snapchat Photos Shared 527,760 1.8 mil 2.4 mil 2.1 mil 2.5 mil
Tinder Swipes 972,222 990,000 1.1 mil 1.4 mil 1.6 mil
Facebook Logins 701,389 900,000 973,000 1 mil 1.3 mil
Internet Shopping Spent Online Missing 751,522 862,823 996,956 1.1 mil
Netflix Hours Watched 69,444 70,017 266,000 694,444 764,000
Instagram Posts 38,194 46,200
Instagram Users Scrolling 174,000 347,222 694,444
Twitter New Tweets 347,222 452,000 481,000
Twitter Users Tweeting 87,500 194,444
Google & Apple Apps Downloaded Missing 342,000 375,000 390,030 400,000

Note that TikTok was only just getting off the ground, but I suspect 2021 will show a huge increase in their presence.

This is how much we use social media – every minute of every day!

If you would like to harness the power of social media, check out my summer sale! Get an amazing 25% off all social media kits and sets, including beautiful inspirational quote templates. You’ll find them all marked down in my Web shop and Etsy shop! The sale starts on August 7th and runs to the end of Labor Day, September 6th.

I would love to hear any feedback or questions you have about this post, so please leave a comment below. Thank you!
Happy Creating!

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