A note from the editor: This blog post was planned before the COVID-19 stay-at-home health situation. Recent research from Gartner (as noted in a WARC article) explains that key learning from China during the height of the pandemic shows that “time spent online shot up 20% as people confined themselves to their homes. Social networking continued to be people’s favorite activity” increasing importance of digital communication and social media. Read on to learn how social media is growing and how the different channels are used. Use the information to plan social strategies for your brand.
Since social media gained popularity, there have been major shifts every few years. Just think about what social media use was like in 2010 versus today. More people than ever have access to mobile devices and the internet, which means that 2020 is likely to be a milestone year for social media.
Findings from Hootsuite’s latest digital state of the union report show that 3.8 billion, or 49 percent of the planet’s population, are active social media users. The number of social media users grew by nine percent over the past year, which indicates that we could see more than half of the world population on social media in 2020.
In fact, social media use is actually outpacing population growth by almost nine to one. The number of active social media users grew by 321 million people, or 9.2 percent. By comparison, the population grew by 82 million, or just above one percent.
Which platforms do these users prefer? Well, Facebook is still on top, claiming 2.4 billion monthly active users. YouTube is a close second, with two billion monthly active users. Instagram comes in third, with one billion monthly users and 500 million people who use its stories feature every day.
Messaging apps, like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and China’s WeChat, also boast over one billion monthly active users.
People use each of the most popular social media platforms for different reasons, and knowing why and how they want to engage with a platform should inform your social media strategy. Here’s the breakdown as described by Forbes contributor John Koetsier:
- Facebook: to interact with an audience that knows them
- Instagram: to see and be seen by others (social media’s Hollywood)
- Twitter: to learn what’s happening in real time
- LinkedIn: to connect and share with professional colleagues and house a living resume
- Snapchat: to connect with only close friends
- YouTube: for entertainment
As we approach the possibility of having as many as four billion people connected around the world, social media is likely to continue to change and shape our world. How this happens in the coming years remains to be seen.