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Most of the Connected World Continues to Grow Faster Than It Did Pre-pandemic, New Report Shows

More people connected, more hours – and money – spent online, and record social media use are among Digital 2022’s key findings

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

As the pandemic continues to have a major impact worldwide, Digital 2022 shows the growth of social media users continuing to trend upwards. There are now 4.62 billion social media users around the world, representing year-on-year growth of more than 10 percent (424 million new users) since this time last year. The number of social media users is now equivalent to more than 58 percent of the world’s total population.

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Social media took the largest share of connected media time in 2021 and people say they are spending more time on social channels each day than they did the previous year, at 2 hours and 27 minutes. Facebook remains the world’s most used social platform, however YouTube is fast closing the gap, with its audience growing twice as fast as Facebook’s – YouTube has 2.56 billion active users, equivalent to 88% of the latest published Facebook total. The third most used one is Whatsapp, followed by Instagram, whose audience was up more than 6% (85 million users) in just the last 90 days. TikTok growth is also accelerating rapidly: up 7.3% (60 million users) over the same period.

Digital 2022 shows internet adoption and use hit new highs last year. As of January 2022, there were 4.95 billion internet users globally – some 62.5% of the world’s population. This is an increase of 4% year-on-year – 192 million people. Average daily time spent using the internet, meanwhile, was almost 7 hours across all devices globally – up 1% (4 minutes) year on year.

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Additional headlines in Digital 2022 include:

  • Contrary to stereotypes, the world’s internet users are not averse to paying for digital content. More than 7 in 10 working-age internet users (71.5 percent) say that they pay for some form of digital content each month. The world’s internet users spent almost USD $300 billion on digital content in 2021, with more than half of this spent on video games.

  • Social media advertising effectiveness was demonstrated by a growing array of data over the past 12 months. More than 1 in 4 internet users aged 16 to 64 (27.6%) discover new brands, products, and services via social media ads.

  • Ecommerce continues its upwards trend – powered in part by the recent and rapid rise of social commerce. Nearly 6 in 10 working age internet users (58.4%) now buy something online every week. New additions to this year’s report, meanwhile, show social commerce accelerating at an ever-increasing rate. Ads in Facebook Marketplace now reach more than 560 million users each month, equating to more than a quarter of the platform’s total ad reach, for example, while advertisers can now reach more than 187 million users with ads in the Instagram Shop tab each month.

  • The number of people who own cryptocurrencies has jumped by more than a third (37.8 percent) since this time last year. More than 1 in 10 working-age internet users now own some form of cryptocurrency.

  • The gaming world has rapidly grown in the last year while the motivation and behaviour of gamers also significantly evolved as interactions and online conversations grew in prominence. The daily time spent using a games console rose to 1 hour and 12 minutes. Meanwhile, more than 8 internet users out of 10 aged 16-64 declare to play video games on any device around the world.

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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,” said 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.”

“I am excited to see how brands evolve with social trends as they leverage their platforms to be advocates and community builders. 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,” said Maggie Lower, CMO, Hootsuite. “If brands and organizations want to remain relevant, they will need to digitize and implement a social commerce strategy.”

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