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58% of the world’s population now uses social media, driving social ad and commerce boom


There are now 4.62 billion social media users around the world, representing growth of more than 10% (424 million new users) since this time last year. The number of social media users is now equivalent to more than 58% of the world’s total population.

So finds Hootsuite, a global leader in social media management, and We Are Social, a socially led creative agency, in their jointly-released the Digital 2022 report, their latest annual report that highlights the most notable global findings on digital trends and social media.

With many countries around the globe re-entering lockdown restrictions due to the Omicron variant, Digital 2022 shows the growth of social media users continuing to trend upwards.

“As we see the number of social media users continue to grow, it’s clear that social will continue to be where organisations build communities and engage directly across all demographics—tailoring their message and approach based on the audience they are trying to reach,” says Maggie Lower, CMO of Hootsuite. “I am excited to see how brands evolve with social trends as they leverage their platforms to be advocates and community builders. Through the data we glean from our Digital 2022 report, we will help guide our customers to the right social media platform for each audience.”

As social media user growth increases, people say they are spending more time on social media each day than they did the previous year, at 2 hours and 27 minutes. Facebook remains the world’s most used social platform, followed by YouTube and WhatsApp.

Good for advertising

According to the report, Instagram’s ad reach has jumped by 21% (more than 257 million users) over the past year. Ads on Instagram reach almost 1.5 billion users each month, with more than 1 billion users reached through Instagram Stories alone.

The number of people who own cryptocurrencies has jumped by more than a third (+37.8%) since this time last year. More than 1 in 10 working-age internet users now own some form of cryptocurrency, with that figure rising to more than 2 in 10 in Thailand.

Ecommerce adoption rates that we’ve seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to climb, showing no signs of declining. Nearly 6 in 10 working-age internet users (58.4%) now buy something online every week, with that figure continuing to rise throughout 2021.

Barely 1 in 6 working-age internet users (17.3%) say that they feel represented in the ads that they see, regardless of the medium. Older users feel particularly detached from advertising, with just 1 in 9 global internet users aged 55 to 64 saying that they recognise themselves in advertising.

The report also highlights the role of social media advertising in the marketing mix, with more than 1 in 4 internet users aged 16 to 64 (27.6%) saying that they discover new brands, products, and services via social media ads.

Good for commerce

Social commerce continues to manifest its importance in Meta’s advertising data. The company’s latest numbers reveal that more than 560 million Facebook users now see ads in Marketplace each month, and 187 million Instagram users see ads in Instagram’s Shop tab.

“The pandemic has brought to light how social media is intrinsically intertwined with how we live, work, operate, and shop. In a time when social distance regulations and non-essential business closures impact businesses everywhere, social commerce is often one of the only ways for brands to stay open and connected with consumers. If brands and organisations want to remain relevant, they will need to digitise and implement a social commerce strategy,” adds Lower.

WhatsApp tops the rankings of the world’s “favourite” social media platforms, with 15.7% of working-age internet users choosing the messenger app as their favourite social platform. Instagram has overtaken Facebook to claim second place in the worldwide rankings with 14.8% of global internet users identifying Instagram as their favourite platform, compared to 14.5% for Facebook.

Meanwhile, TikTok’s ad audience also continues to grow at a rapid pace. Digital 2022 indicates that the platform’s reach increased by 7.3% (60 million users) in just the past 90 days, taking TikTok’s worldwide ad reach amongst audiences aged 18 and above to roughly 885 million.

“We are seeing rapid changes in culture, the economy and society more broadly. The huge shifts in behaviour witnessed over the last 12 months are now permanent, and are set to accelerate even faster,” says Nathan McDonald, Co-founder and Group Chief Executive, We Are Social. “More people than ever are spending time online: beyond social connections, information and entertainment, the growth of social commerce, gaming and spending on cryptocurrencies and digital goods is evidence of real cultural change. It’s never been more important for marketers to have a deep understanding of online communities, cultures and subcultures.”

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