You may need to reset your expectations if you expect digital to be back to business as usual in 2022.
The Digital 2022 Global Overview Report, published in partnership with Hootsuite & We Are Social, shows that the connected world is growing faster than before the pandemic.
Numbers of social network users. These platforms are used for a lot of time. Spending on social advertising. They are all on the rise. For more information, read on.
To learn more about how to target your audience and where to focus your social media marketing efforts, download the Digital 2022 complete report. It includes online behavior data from 220 nations.
The Top 10 Takeaways
This video provides a quick summary of the year’s most important headlines and trends.
During the past decade, social media users experienced even greater growth than internet users.
The current total of 4.62 Billion social media users is 3.0x more than the 2012 figure of 1.48 Billion. This means that over the past decade, social media users have experienced a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12%.
The growth in social media users has been double-digit at 10.1% over the last 12 months. However, I have to admit that I am surprised that the growth rate between 2021-2022 has not fallen below pre-pandemic levels.
The latest data indicates that 424 million people have started their social media journeys in the last year. This equates to approximately 13.5 million new users per second or an average of over 1 million users per day.
Anyone who was hesitant about joining social media prior to the pandemic would be most likely to do so during the initial days of lockdown 2020. I hesitate to attribute any significant growth in the last 12 months to a “COVID effect”.
Furthermore, social media users account for 58.4% worldwide, so we can expect growth rates to slow down over the next few decades. This may be the last year that we see double-digit annual growth of social media users.
Good news: Social media users should reach 60% of the global population by 2022. However, growth rates will slow down so social media’s overall reach should still be something to celebrate.
Social users now have a 2nd favorite
GWI’s most recent data shows that Instagram is now second in the global rankings for “favorite social media platforms”.
However, it’s close: Instagram is favored by 14.8% of global internet users, compared to Facebook’s 14.5%.
WhatsApp is however, another Meta platform that tops the global rankings. 15.7% of internet users aged working choose the messenger app to be their preferred social platform.
Despite a staggering 99% of votes coming from users in Mainland China, WeChat is able to gain enough votes to place fourth on a global scale.
China hosts around 20% of all the internet users worldwide, so it’s not surprising that these social media users have such an impact on global rankings.
You may be even more surprised to find TikTok at 4.3% of total votes.
This is not enough to match the excitement TikTok generates in social media. However, it’s worth noting the fact that TikTok’s share of votes has increased by 180 basis point in three months.
App Annie also reports that TikTok was ranked the most downloaded mobile app in 2021. The platform continues to experience strong growth in ad reach (more details later).
We expect TikTok to make further gains in these rankings in the months ahead. Be sure to check out our quarterly Statshot reports for 2022 to keep up with its progress.
Social media continues to increase in time spent
The COVID-19 pandemic began with the most important story being about how dependent the world became on the internet. This was especially true as countries were placed under lockdown.
Despite fluctuations in movement restrictions in the last two years, data shows that connected tech is being used more frequently than ever.
Social media accounts account for 35% of all connected media time at an average of 2 hours 27 minutes per day.
Over the past year, social media usage has increased by 2 minutes per person (+1.4%).
However, the share of social media usage has fallen slightly since the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to our analysis, this may be due to the fact that people have taken up a wider range of online activities in the last two years. Therefore, social media accounts for a lower percentage of online time than when people did less online.
However, the world is set to spend over 4 trillion hours on social media by 2022. This shows that social media will continue to play a major role in our daily lives.
How does social media time breakdown by platform?
The good news is that App Annie has shared with us some amazing data this year. It shows how many people use the Android apps on top social networks.
To give you some context, Android handsets account for approximately seven in 10 smartphones worldwide today. These figures are rich in insight into how social media is used around the globe.
App Annie data shows that YouTube is the most used social media app on Android phones. It also has the longest average time per user.
App Annie’s research shows that YouTube users spend almost a whole day and 23.7 hours per month using YouTube’s mobile application. But, keep in mind that YouTube also likely sees meaningful activity via embedded content on third-party websites.
Facebook is second in total cumulative time spent on social media apps with Android users spending an average of 19.6 hours per month in the app.
TikTok users spend an average of 19.6 hours per Month using the TikTok Android App. However, because TikTok has fewer users overall, TikTok is only fifth in this ranking based on cumulative time spent by all users.
WhatsApp is third in total time spent with users spending 18.6 hours per month on the Android messenger app.
Instagram is fourth in popularity, but its users use it for a much shorter time than the other top five apps, with just 11.2 hours per monthly.
LINE is also used for an average of 11.6 hours per month. However, it has a lot fewer users than the rest and ranks ninth globally in terms of total time spent.
The average monthly time spent by a user on Facebook, YouTube, or WhatsApp has remained stable over the past year.
The time spent on Instagram has increased by 10% over the past year. This equates to an additional hour per month.
TikTok, however, has experienced the greatest gains among the top five in the past twelve months.
TikTok users are now spending an additional 6 hours and 20 mins per month using the Android app. This compares to last year. It amounts to 48% more year-over-year growth.
These figures can vary by geography, so it is important to emphasize that local rankings may look very different from the global.
Marketers who are creating a social media strategy need to have insight into the “favorite platforms” of their users and how much time they spend on each.
But active users still offer valuable benchmarks when it comes down to understanding the platform’s momentum.
Meta’s Q3 2021 Investor Earnings Announcement confirms that Facebook remains the most popular social media platform in the world, with 2.91 Billion users as of October 2021 (the “official” number at the time).
Facebook’s monthly active users grew by 6.2% (+170,000,000 users) in the past year, even though it has reached more than half its potential audience by age or accessibility. Note that Facebook is still blocked by China.
YouTube’s audience has grown almost twice as fast than Facebook’s over the last year, but YouTube is closing the gap with Facebook.
YouTube has more than 2.56 billion users. This is roughly 88% of the Facebook total.
Note that YouTube’s ads audience is used to calculate the numbers, while Facebook’s total monthly active users are used.
Meta has not published any official updates on global WhatsApp user numbers over the past year. However, it is likely that the platform ranks third with at least 2,000,000 active users per month.
Instagram is fourth on a global scale and has experienced some of the most rapid growth of any platform over the past year. (You’ll find a more detailed analysis of Instagram growth later in this article).
WeChat is now the number five social media platform in China, with 1.26 billion active monthly users.
All eyes will be on TikTok though, currently in sixth place in active user rankings.
Bytedance stated that the platform had reached 1 billion monthly active users in September 2021. However, the company has been unusually tight-lipped since then so that number remains “official”.
It’s important to note that TikTok has nearly doubled its active user base between December 2019 and Sept 2021. With the platform still holding the top spot on the global app download charts it is almost certain that TikTok will continue growing (more details below).
Since September 2017, Meta has not published an “official monthly active user” (MAU) figure for Messenger. We’ve therefore decided to use the latest ad reach figure from the platform in these rankings instead.
LinkedIn does not publish active user numbers. We are unable to include this information in the list.
Instagram continues to grow and expand.
Meta’s latest advertising data shows that Instagram’s reach has increased by 21% in the last year, despite significant changes to how it reports its ad audience numbers.
Meta’s data indicates that Instagram saw more than 25 million new users in 2021. This pushes the global reach of Instagram’s ad network to nearly 1.5 billion users by 2022.
Instagram’s audience has grown by more than 66% (+85,000,000 users) in the last 90 days. This suggests that it’s growth rate will continue to accelerate.
Instagram has shown impressive quarterly growth rates over time. Our analysis of its ad reach numbers shows that the company has experienced a growth rate of nearly 60% in the last 2 years.
The Digital 2022 Report also contains data for some Instagram’s individual “environments”, which is particularly valuable for marketers looking for opportunities like short video formats or social search.
To give context, Instagram’s “homefeed” ads reach nearly all (96.6%) users each month. These placements are therefore the best way to reach the largest audience possible.
Instagram Stories ads reach over 1 billion people each month. The Stories environment offers a compelling opportunity with its additional functionality and creative options.
Nevertheless, Instagram’s Explore tab sees ads from slightly less than 800 million users each month.
Marketers launching new products and brands may find this finding more relevant, as users who browse the Explore tab are more likely be searching for inspiration, new content, and ideas.
While Reels may not have gained the same momentum yet as Stories, data shows that 675 million Instagram users still view ads in the dedicated video tab every month.
Later in this article, we’ll be taking a closer look Instagram Shop in the section for social commerce.
TikTok’s rapid growth is not slowing down anytime soon
TikTok’s advertising audience continues to grow at an impressive rate.
According to Bytedance’s latest advertising resources, TikTok’s user reach has increased by 60,000,000 (+7.3%) over the last 90 days. This brings the total worldwide ad reach at around 885 million as of the beginning of 2022.
It’s important to note that this number doesn’t include users under the age of 18. They likely make up a large portion of the platform’s active user base. [Note: Bytedance’s tools do not show data on ad reach for audiences below 18 years old, but marketers can still target users 13 years and older.
According to the latest data, TikTok has added an average of 650,000 users per day for the past three months. This equates roughly to eight new users each second.
TikTok is popular among younger users, even though stereotypes are often perpetuated.
TikTok users over 18 years old use the platform to advertise. This is according to data from Ad Audience.
In the meantime, TikTok users over 18 in the United States make up more than half (50.3%) all American adults.
Like all data on social media audiences in our Global Digital Reports, “users” may not be unique individuals. However, it is clear that TikTok has made a big impression around the globe and is becoming a more popular choice.
YouTube’s advertising reach surpasses 2.5 billion
Our most recent analysis shows that YouTube ads now reach over 2.5 billion users. This figure has increased by 11.9% (+271,000,000 users) in the past twelve months.
These figures do not include users from 75 of the largest economies in the world. Therefore, there is a good chance that YouTube ads reach a wider audience than the published numbers.
According to available data, YouTube ads reach approximately one third of the people on Earth. This number rises to 37.7% for adults over 18.
But if you only focus on the countries with data, it’s a much more compelling story.
YouTube ads reach more than three quarters of adults 18 years and older in the Western World, and more that 90% of all adults across 14 countries.
Marketers may be interested in learning more about YouTube’s growing reach. YouTube has 11 music-related search terms among its top 20 searches over the past 12 months.
This trend can also be seen in our ranking the most-subscribed channels on the platform as well as in our updated ranking the most viewed videos on the platform, which you can find in the full report.
GWI’s most recent numbers reveal that nearly one in four Internet users aged 16-64 uses social media to do work-related activities.
However, the number is significantly higher in many emerging economies.
The top end of the scale is 41.5 percent, which means that more than half of Kenya’s internet users are using social media to do work-related research.
South Africans and Filipinos are significantly more likely than the global average to use social media to work. More than one-third (or more) of both country’s internet users (16 to 64) say that social media is a part of their professional lives.
It seems that the median age of the population plays a significant role in determining how likely people are to use social networking for work. However, it is worth noting that Greece appears to be bucking this trend.
LinkedIn had an impressive year, and we are still on the topic of professional social media.
An analysis of data published by LinkedIn in its advertising resources revealed that LinkedIn’s registered members have increased by 11% in the past 12 months (+81,000,000 members), bringing the total global to over 808 million at the beginning of 2022.
The reports for this year show that social media advertising spending has increased significantly in the past twelve months.
Statista data shows, for example, that worldwide social media advertising spend exceeded USD 150 billion in 2021. Social media ads account for approximately one-third (33.1%) total digital spend.
Skai’s latest analysis shows that advertisers spent 14% less on social media ads during Q4 2021 than in the same quarter in 2020.
This increase in overall spend was reflected in Q4 social media CPMs which jumped 21.7% year-on-year. Advertisers around the globe paid an average USD $9.13 per 1,000 social media impressions over the last three months 2021.
Importantly, however, due to the higher average cost of impressions, social media marketers actually delivered fewer total impressions during Q4 2021 than they did in the same period in 2020 despite spending more overall.
Social media plays a major role in brand research and discovery
Marketers will feel reassured by the new research that confirms the effectiveness and efficiency of social media advertising, despite rising ad prices.
GWI’s most recent data shows that over one-fourth of internet users (16 to 64) find new brands, products and services through social media ads. This is slightly lower than the figure for TV advertisements (31.1%).
However, search engines remain the most popular source of brand discovery for internet users around the globe. 31.7% of GWI’s sample said that they have found new brands through an online search.
Word-of-mouth referrals are also a strong source of brand discovery. Marketers may need to examine how easy it is for customers to share their brand via messenger apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram.
It’s worth noting, in addition to paid placements that only under one-fourth of working-age internet users (23.2%) actively follows or likes a brand on Facebook every month, and nearly one-eight (12.2%) say that they share posts from brands’ social media accounts at least once a month.
GWI’s research has shown that social media activities of brands also play an important part in other stages of the purchase cycle.
For instance, over four out of ten internet users of working age say they use social media to search for brands and products they are interested in buying. This figure rises to half of internet users between 16-24.
These positive results are not the only ones. There are some worrying trends as well.
Locowise’s latest data indicates that Facebook pages should expect a low average engagement rate of 0.07%.
This means that on average, seven fans per 10,000 will respond to, comment on or share any post.
Even more alarming, this average drops to 0.05% when pages have more than 100,000 fans.
Similar: Explore insights into social media marketing effectiveness with Hootsuite’s Social Media Trends report 2022.
A troubling finding from this year’s data was that 17.3% of internet users aged working say they feel represented by the ads they see.
GWI reports that China is the country most likely to feel represented in advertisements. Just over one-fourth (26.8%), of these respondents said yes.
Only one in nine Americans holds a similar view, while the number drops to one in eleven for the UK.
Japan is at the bottom of this list, with only one in 24 respondents saying they feel represented by the ads they see. This despite Japanese brands spending more that USD $47 billion in advertising in 2021.
This poor result could be partly due to Japan’s high median-age.
GWI’s data shows that older people are more detached from advertising than anyone else. Only one in nine internet users (11.8%) said that they recognized themselves in the advertisements they saw.
This is where the real challenge lies in understanding and acting upon this data.
Advertising should reflect the audience it is aimed at or should it offer a different perspective (e.g. A more “aspirational lifestyle”?
This is one of the most contentious marketing questions, and there are no easy answers.
My best advice is to spend time and effort understanding your audience and their hopes, dreams and fears.
This year’s reports include many data partners who will be able help.
Regular social listening is a powerful way to get a sense of what people care about.
As you finish your 2022 plans, make sure to set aside time and money to actively explore what is important to your audiences and what “ad representativeness” might look like for them.
Ecommerce continues its boom
We predicted that ecommerce adoption will continue to rise as we have seen in our Digital 2021 reports. This is despite movement restrictions.
GWI data shows that almost six out of ten internet users aged over 10 (58.4%), now shop online at least once a week. This number will continue to grow through 2021.
Many lockdown-inspiring behaviors still endure, even though people are now able to venture out into the real world.
As an example, nearly three-quarters of 10 people (28.3%), now shop online for groceries every week. The absolute number of online grocery shoppers has increased by 10% in the last six months.
Despite this, grocery spending has increased even faster than the user numbers.
Statista’s Digital Market Outlook shows that online spending in the Food and Beverages category grew by more 35% in 2021. The total revenue from these two categories reached $588 billion.
Global revenues from online shopping for “consumer goods”, which include groceries, fashion and electronics, increased by more than half of a trillion US Dollars in 2021 (+18%) to reach USD 3.85 trillion for the entire year.
Statista data shows that online shoppers spend on average more than USD 1,000 per year.
The story is, however, very different depending on where you live.
The average revenue per user (ARPU), for online consumer goods purchases, is now more than USD $3,000 in Hong Kong and the United States. However, it remains below USD $100 to Nigeria.
This year’s data also contains some positive news for travel brands.
While online travel revenues are still lower than in 2019, they have increased steadily in the last 12 months.
Statista’s Mobility Market Outlook report shows that worldwide online travel spending grew by USD 11.1 billion (+6.8% in 2021), reaching USD $173 billion for the entire year.
Online hotel bookings have seen an even greater increase in value, with global revenues increasing by 45% over last year.
In 2021, the world spent $142 Billion on online hotel bookings. The annual revenue increased by USD $44 Billion compared to 2020’s total.
However, the most recent data shows that ecommerce is not just about getting “the best and latest”.
GWI research shows that “recommerce” is becoming more popular. One in seven Internet users (16 to 64) buys a second-hand or used item online every week.
Social commerce explodes
This year’s reports now include new figures on ad reach on Instagram Marketplace and Instagram Shop.
These numbers only reflect the number of users marketers can reach through ads in these environments and may not be representative of the entire active user base for each environment.
Meta says that Marketplace is used by more than 1 Billion people each month. This suggests that there’s a large gap between the total number of Marketplace users and the percentage that sees advertisements within Facebook’s commerce environment.
This gap is also present across Meta products. Our analysis shows that Facebook’s total ad reach only accounts for 72% of its monthly active users. Data Reportal offers some possible explanations.
These figures, which are still compelling, show that social commerce is gaining momentum.
Facebook Marketplace ads reach over 560 million users per month. This is more than 25% of the total reach for ad campaigns on Facebook.
Facebook Marketplace, which is in line with the overall platform demographics, attracts a greater male audience. Men account for 55%.
The more striking finding is that the Marketplace audience is often older than the Facebook audience.
Marketplace users over 35 years old account for more than half (50.9%), but only 40.9% of Facebook’s total ad audience.
Facebook restricts Marketplace use to users over 18 years old. This explains why the numbers in the lowest age bracket seem so low.
Instagram Shop is also gaining momentum. Meta’s tools report that advertisers can reach more than 187,000,000 users each month with ads in the Shop tab.
Contrary to what was found for Marketplace, data shows that Instagram Shop’s global advertising audience is much higher than the results for Marketplace.
The Digital 2021 Report contains the most recent data and insights about social media, mobile and other digital behaviors.
Get the Report
As usual, I want to thank the data partners, who made this year’s report possible.
GWIStatistaGSMA IntelligenceApp AnnieSemrushSimilarWebLocowiseSkai
Important Notes about the Data
All readers are encouraged to read our data notes, which will help them understand how data sources and methods may affect this year’s numbers.
Here are some alerts to be aware of:
Internet users: Due to COVID-19 delays in reporting, figures for “year on year change” may not be comparable with previous reports. We have included the growth figures where we were able to calculate representative figures. However, if we don’t include growth figures it is likely that any comparisons made with historical data will produce incorrect values. Please do not compare this year’s figures for advertising audience and social media users with those published in previous reports.
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