As we’re now over half way through 2021, it’s a great time to review all social media platforms; how well they are performing, target markets and trends.  Usually, I research with caution, not knowing what I’ll discover. Fear not, it appears that social media globally couldn’t be more healthy.

As we were working from home during 2020, we obviously saw a huge increase in people using social media and the internet as a whole and it was thought that as COVID-19 restrictions begin easing in some parts of the world over recent months, the fast pace of growth in social media users would slow down.  However latest research from Hootsuite shows there are few signs of it slowing down and that the trend we saw during lockdown is continuing – great news for marketeers worldwide.

The global unique user total grew by a staggering 520 million over the past year, representing annual growth of more than 13%.

For context, that means that more than one in nine of today’s social media users started using social platforms for the first time within the past 12 months.

Furthermore, today’s user total is 147 million higher than it was just three months ago, equating to quarter-on-quarter growth of nearly 3.5%.

  • Global mobile users have reached 5.27 billion, equating to just under 67% of the world’s total population
  • The number of mobile users has grown by 2.3% over the past year, increasing by 117 million in 12 months—that’s almost 10 million new users per month
  • Internet users have increased by more than a quarter of a billion since this time last year, registering year-on-year growth of close to 6%
  • There are 4.8 billion internet users around the world today, equating to almost 61% of the world’s total population
  • Social media user numbers have jumped by more than 13% since this time last year, with the latest data showing an increase of more than half a billion users in just 12 months
  • There are now 4.48 billion social media users around the world, which is equal to almost 57% of the world’s total population
  • More than 95% of the world’s working-age internet users now use social networks and messaging services each month, reveals new data from GWI.
  • More than five in six internet users between the ages of 16 and 64 also visit search engines and web portals each month, but this figure is more than 10 percentage points lower than the figure for social networks.
  • Meanwhile, roughly six in 10 internet users say they’ve visited some kind of online shopping platform in the past month, and more than 50% of internet users say that they shop or browse for products online every week.

Instagram reach soars but points to potential trouble ahead

Recent months have seen some interesting changes in the numbers that Facebook’s tools report for Instagram’s advertising reach. Overall, these tools show that Instagram’s advertising reach has jumped by 100 million users over the past 90 days, representing quarter-on-quarter growth of more than 7.5%. However,  Facebook’s data suggests that advertisers can now target 25 million fewer users across Europe than they could as recently as April 2021.

News Behaviours

People are now more than twice as likely to get their news from social media as they are to look for it in newspapers and magazines.

Overall, 56% of respondents of a Digital News survey say that they use social media to access news content, but younger people are particularly likely to turn to social media for news, with two-thirds of respondents aged 18 to 24 saying that they use social platforms to access news content.

However, roughly half of all adults aged 55 and above say that they use social media for news too, so this behavior is by no means limited to Gen Z audiences.

Facebook continues to be the top social destination for news, with 44% of worldwide respondents saying that they use the platform to discover and consume news content.

YouTube ranks second at 29%, while WhatsApp is now the third most important social channel for news, with almost a quarter of survey respondents citing the platform as a regular feature in their news repertoire.

This year’s data also highlights Twitter’s outsized role when it comes to news content.

Despite claiming three times fewer monthly active users, Twitter is almost as popular as Instagram when it comes to news content.


Outlook for the second half of 2021

This data demonstrates elevated growth in digital use and adoption around the world, creating a variety of opportunities for marketers everywhere.

The initial spikes in user growth that we saw at the start of the coronavirus pandemic were perhaps to be expected, it’s great to see these growth rates haven’t returned to the levels we saw prior to the outbreak.


You can view the full Hootsuite’s Digital 2021: