Public Relations

What are 4 billion people doing online?

We Are Social and Hootsuite recently released their annual Global Digital Report looking at internet usage and trends worldwide.

The headlines

  • There are now 4.39 billion internet users worldwide. Unsurprisingly, it’s on the rise, up 366 million compared to January 2018.
  • There are 5.11 billion unique mobile users, up 2% from last year (sounds small, that 2% is 100 million people!)
  • There are 3.48 billion social media users, again increasing by 9% – or 288 million – since last year.

It’s probably not news to you all that internet and social media usage is on the rise. But how people are using the internet is fascinating to see.

Hootsuite explained its perspective on digital in 2019: “From using Instagram to research products to chatting with customer support on messaging apps, social media has become the heart of all digital customer touchpoints. We recommend that brands take action in three critical areas:

  • Rebuild trust with consumers.
  • Break down marketing silos.
  • Make a unified view your imperative.”

So how are people using the internet?

Globally, people are spending six hours and 42 minutes on the internet each day. This is a break in the increases of the past four years with a drop of 1.7% from 2018.

This can perhaps be attributed to people being made more aware of their internet usage and seeking to cut down.

In the UK, the five hours 46 minutes of internet usage per day can be broken down into two hours nine minutes mobile internet and three hours 36 minutes using the internet on computers.

Google, YouTube, Facebook, Baidu, and Wikipedia are the most visited websites globally, according to Similarweb. Looking at other social media sites not in the top five, Twitter sits at number seven, Instagram at number 10 and Reddit at number 20.

Looking at social media sites, globally, Facebook has the most active monthly users, followed by YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and We Chat.

67% of the UK population are active users on social media and spend, on average, one hour 50 minutes on social media each day. UK users, on average, have seven social media accounts but are not necessarily active on all of these.

“Consumers are spending more time online. But in 2018, we saw consumers worry about the impact of these activities on their digital well-being” explained Hootsuite.

“To escape noisy news feeds, consumers have flocked to private digital spaces like Stories, Facebook Groups and messaging apps… Brands risk being ignored if they fail to deliver personalised content that connects on a human level.”

What do communications professionals need to do?

“We need to work harder to create content that’s important, interesting and timely to build deeper customer relationships, rather than filling content calendars” added Hootsuite.

This fits with trends from other reports and conversations that trust in the media is declining and people are demanding authenticity.

More and more, consumers are making conscious decisions about the brands that they trust and not always taking information at face value.

Authenticity and transparency are key.

You can read the full Global Digital Report here.


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