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Social media user numbers swell to 58% of world's population, spurring social commerce boom

Thu 27 Jan 2022

Facebook continues to dominate the social media landscape, but Instagram and TikTok are rapidly sprinting ahead in the rankings, according to new Digital 2022 research from Hootsuite and We Are Social.

More than 58% of the global population now uses social media (4.62 billion social media users worldwide), of whom 10% (424 million) joined in the last year. People are also spending more time than ever on social media platforms, averaging almost 2.5 hours every day.

Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp are the three most used social platforms, but WhatsApp is users' 'favourite' platform (15.7% of working-age internet users), followed by Instagram (14.8%), and Facebook (14.5%). TikTok now boasts 60 million users and rapid growth - its worldwide ad reach to audiences over 18 is now approximately 885 million.

As more people flock to social media, social commerce is also thriving. According to the research, more than 560 million Facebook users see ads across Marketplace, and 187 million Instagram users see ads in the Shop.

"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 Hootsuite CMO Maggie Lower.

"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."

More than a quarter (27.6%) of users aged between 16-24 take notice of social media advertising, stating they discover brands, services and products through social media ads. However, those ads may not be connecting with users - 17% say they feel represented in ads, and older users feel more detached.

More social media users own cryptocurrency than they did a year ago, with a growth of 37.8%. Those in Thailand are most likely to own cryptocurrency.

Overall, eCommerce does not appear to be slowing down - 58.4% buy an item online every week and that number is expected to climb.

We Are Social cofounder and group chief executive Nathan McDonald says the huge shifts in consumer behaviour will grow even faster.  

"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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