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3.96 billion people now use social media

27 Jul 2020

Half of the world’s population (3.96 billion people) now use social media – whether that’s Facebook or Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter. Or at least that’s what new stats from Hootsuite and We Are Social, which aim to understand exactly how digital out world is becoming.

Unsurprisingly, COVID lockdowns have played a major part in the rise of social media and messenger usage, continuing trends that started months ago.

In the last 12 months, an average of one million people every day used social media for the first time.  The report says that social media platforms attracted 376 million new users since July 2019.

We Are Social’s global chief executive Nathan McDonald comments, "Our lives are becoming increasingly interwoven with the digital world, and the acceleration of social media use globally is another reflection of this. It's significant that so many of us are now on social media, using it in a variety of different ways; for news, opinions, information and entertainment; to socialise and, increasingly, to inform purchase decisions.”

“Social media has been an integral part of the way we communicate with one another for a long time, but this evolution shows just how much it impacts multiple aspects of our lives right now, and in the future."

Hootsuite Australia and New Zealand general manager Heather Cook offers some more local insights – she says that 38% of New Zealanders spend more time on social media since the onset of COVID-19.

“New Zealanders’ digital and social behaviours are evolving rapidly, whether it's shopping and transacting online with 72% of New Zealanders buying something online in the past month, finding news on social, or parents staying up to date on their kids’ health and education through the use of apps.”

Australian social media users are similar, Cook says, as 73% of Australians bought something online in the past month.

She says it could be a good time for businesses to engage with audiences and help people to make better purchase decisions.

We Are Social Australia managing director Suzie Shaw says, “85% of the Australian eligible population (people 13+) are active users. Social media permeate all aspects of our personal and professional lives, to the point that one in three Australians use social media to research brands and look for information about their products - increasingly influencing our purchasing decisions as a consequence.”

According to the report, Instagram and LinkedIn are strong platforms. Brands can now reach 1.08 billion people using ads on Instagram, with the platform adding 111 million new users to its advertising reach in the past three months. 

LinkedIn now has 700 million registered users. The platform’s global user base grew by more than 25 million over the past 3 months, equating to quarter-on-quarter growth of almost 4%.