The UK Social Media Statistics for 2021

Feb 18, 2021

Social Media Statistics help Social Media Managers decide the best strategy for their brand. In this blog, we explore the UK social media statistics for 2021 and what this might mean for your brand.

Social media has been an essential part of everyday life since long before any of us had heard of COVID-19.

As a direct result of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, social media usage in 2020 grew at the fastest rate in three years. There are now more people using social media across the globe than not, with 4.2 billion users worldwide.

The latest Digital 2021: Global Overview report, created by We Are Social and Hootsuite, is an incredible source of digital insights and stats which can help brand marketers to make informed decisions in the months ahead.

This year’s report reveals that connected technology became an even more essential part of people’s lives over the past year. Social media, eCommerce, streaming content, and video games have all seen significant growth in the past 12 months.

In this blog, we examine the UK social media statistics for 2021 and explore how this can inform us to make good marketing decisions for brands.

Social Media Prize

The Global Social Media Statistics for 2021

There are now an estimated 4.20 billion social media users globally, according to the Digital 2021: Global Overview report. This is nearly 54% of the total global population.

Since January 2020, active social media usage has increased by 13%, or 490 million users.

Almost all social media users access platforms via mobile devices, a whopping 98.8%. If you’re not already thinking “mobile-first” then this should be a priority for 2021. Optimising your campaigns for mobile will ensure your content is eye-catching, professional, and is more likely to drive success.

The UK Social Media Statistics for 2021

Social media usage in the UK has stayed relatively consistent over the last 12 months. There are now 45 million social media users, or 66% of the UK population using the platforms.

Despite the movement towards social self-care and reducing screen time that we saw in 2019 and early 2020, people aren’t turning their backs on social media. The average UK user increased their social media usage from 1 hour 42 minutes to 1 hour 49 minutes in the last 12 months. This is not surprising, given the context of 2020.

There isn’t UK-centric data but looking at the global data we can conclude that the younger the demographic, the more time is being spent on social media. In every age group and for every platform, female usage is significantly greater than male usage. Interestingly, when looking at social media usage for work, male usage is higher in all age groups.

Platforms

UK social media platform statistics haven’t changed dramatically, except for the continued growth in popularity of TikTok.

The average number of social media accounts per social media user in the UK is 6.9 (for 16–64-year-olds). There is dramatic user overlap too. This means that if you use social media it is almost certain that you use multiple platforms. Users will have a preferred platform and spend more time on it than on others but are still a potential audience for brands elsewhere too.

One of the most interesting things in the Digital 2021: Global Overview report for brand marketers is the “Reasons for Using Social Media” on page 97.

Globally “researching products to buy” is one of the top primary reasons for people to use social media, up to 27.5%. The UK is slightly lower than the global average, but 28% of UK users do use social media to research brands. This shows the importance of one of the key trends for 2021, social shopping. As users perform their brand research within the social media apps, guiding customers to your product pages and areas to buy is becoming more important. Find out How to set up Instagram Shopping for your brand in our blog.

Facebook

Facebook usage has decreased in the last year, but the giant still has an audience of 2.18 billion global users. It still holds the crown as the most used social media platform in the world.

Every time a new social media platform takes off there is talk of Facebook dying out, but this is not the case. Total membership might have gone down, but its number of monthly users has increased every year since at least 2015.

There is also a misconception that Facebook is an aging platform. Whilst it’s true that people 65+ are the fastest growing demographic on Facebook, 61.3% of global Facebook users are under 35.

The potential global advertising reach of Facebook is enormous. According to Facebook you can reach 36% of the global population over the age of 13 with ads through Facebook advertising. In the UK, Facebook now has a reach of 38 million people, which is unchanged from this time last year. That’s 66% of the total UK population over 13 years old.

The good news for social media marketers is that Facebook engagement in the UK is still way ahead of the global average. The UK Facebook user will like an average of 14 Facebook posts per month and comment on 7. UK users also click on nearly double the global average of ads – 19 per month!

One thing that we’re asked about a lot at Avocado Social is how many engagements should we be getting on a Facebook post? Although it’s still impossible to give you an answer to this question, we can tell you that the Global and UK average is 0.11%. This can be used as a basic gauge.

YouTube

YouTube remains the world’s second most popular social media platform after Facebook. With over 2 billion users and an estimated 1 billion hours of video consumed daily the potential reach is enormous.

Globally, the average viewing session is now 40 minutes, up 50% from 2 years ago according to Omicore (2020 figure). This seems to be increasing further. Many brands continue to use YouTube to host longer-form content. Unlike other social networks, where users scroll passively through newsfeeds, YouTube users are intentionally searching on the platform for videos to watch, and are increasingly doing so on mobile. Last year 70% of all watch time was on mobile.

The reach of YouTube ads is enormous. In the UK it’s estimated that 53 million people are reachable via ads, which equates to 84% of all adults (18+).

Instagram

As of January 2021 there were 31 million Instagram users in the UK. Up from 24 million 12 months ago.

According to Instagram, 53% of the UK’s population can be reached with advertising. The gender split is still slightly skewed towards females (54% vs 46% males).

According to Instagram the global average account grows by 1.7% each month (global data). This is based on 1.56 main feed posts per day. As we mentioned in our Social Media Trends for 2021 blog video will be an ever-increasing content form on Instagram. Currently, 17.8% of all Instagram content are video posts, 17.3% are carousel posts and 64.9% are photo posts.

Engagement on Instagram is slightly lower than it is on Facebook. The more your follower numbers increase, the less engagement you are likely to see too. For accounts under 10K followers, engagement sits at 1.29%. This goes down to 1% for 10-100K followers, and 0.73% for over 100K.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has consistently grown over the last few years and engagement is at record high levels.

In January 2019 there were 610 million professionals interacting on the platform and looking for new ideas and opportunities. This jumped to 663 million in 2020, and now stands at 727 million for 2021.

LinkedIn noted that:

“More and more people are using the feed and giving feedback to their network’s posts: our members generate tens of millions of viral actions (likes, comments, and reshares), and the number is increasing more than 50% YoY.”

Advertising reach has also increased amongst users. LinkedIn ads now have the potential to reach 56% of the UK’s adult (18+) population, and 13% of the global adult population. This means potential LinkedIn advertising reach of 30 million people in the UK.

Twitter

Twitter has always been pretty cagey about its usage figures. They continue to remove hundreds of thousands of bots and fake accounts every day, which was very apparent against the backdrop of the US election.

This does affect their global statistics. It has also had a detrimental effect on advertising revenue over the past 3 years.

According to Twitter, they have 353 million registered users globally, 16.5 million of which are in the UK. All of which can be reached by adverts. This is a small decrease of 1.2% since the beginning of 2020. Despite my negative tone, the advertising potential is still huge – just under 29% of the UK population (13+).

Pinterest

Pinterest seems like a sleeping giant amongst the other social media platforms in this blog. It has 200 million global users. Pinterest is often compared to other visual social media platforms, but this isn’t necessarily fair. From a feature standpoint, it has a unique ability to absorb entire catalogs into shoppable pages. For eCommerce brands, it is incredibly valuable for driving customers down the conversion funnel.

In the UK advertising can reach more than 10.7 million people, which is up very slightly since 2020. Of all the social media platforms, Pinterest has the greatest gender imbalance – 77% of all users are female. It also has a strong userbase of those between the ages of 25 to 44. This age bracket makes up 44% of total users.

One of the most valuable things about Pinterest is the long shelf life of Pins. The average pin is repined 11 times. Eighty percent of all pins are repins and it takes a pin 3.5 months to get 50 percent of its engagement. A Pin will, on average, live for seven months – about 7 months longer than the average tweet.

TikTok

TikTok is a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share 15-second videos, on any topic. The app has disrupted the social media landscape since its launch in 2016 and is hugely popular with Gen Z (13-20-year-olds).

Globally, TikTok has 689 registered users and it is growing fast! In December 2020 alone, 56 million people downloaded the app. (By the time you’re reading this, we’re sure the 689 million figure is wildly incorrect!)

Although the platform is still in its infancy, it is already the 7th most active social media app in the world. There are a reported 3.7 million users in the UK. User numbers are expected to grow to 10 million before the end of 2021.

We put together an In-Depth Look at Marketing on TikTok for the Digital Marketing Institute at the beginning of the year, which is full of ideas on how your brand can get started on the platform.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is the most popular messenger app in the UK and also globally, with 2 billion registered users. A third of the global population! Of these, 50 million are WhatsApp Business users.

WhatsApp Business presents a great opportunity for brands to connect with their audience. Increasingly, users of messaging apps such as WhatsApp are willing to engage with businesses, particularly younger customers. According to Nielsen’s Facebook Messaging Survey in 2018, 67% of mobile messaging app users said they expect to use chat more for communicating with businesses over the next two years. What is more, 53% of respondents say they’re more likely to shop with a business they can message directly.

More than 60 billion messages are sent through WhatsApp every single day, and it is currently the 3rd largest social networking platform in the world.

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger is often overlooked by social media marketers, partly because of the increased usage of other messenger apps.

Globally, Facebook Messenger has 1.05 billion users, 30 million of which are in the UK. Marketers can reach 52.1% of the UK population, over 13 years old, with advertising. An enormous market! The biggest challenge is often creating content that will connect with your audience on Facebook Messenger and won’t be viewed as an interruption from the user experience.

Snapchat

Many people have talked about the decline of Snapchat over the last couple of years, but in 2020 the total number of global and UK users actually rose.

Globally, there are now 498M registered Snapchat users, which is up 15% from last year.  According to Hootsuite an average of 238 million people were using Snapchat each day (as of June 2020). The UK is Snapchat’s fourth-largest market, with 21 million users.

Snapchat can now boast a 36.6% advertising reach in the UK, which represents more than 7 million people (aged 13 and over).

This is a huge number, especially when you consider the demographic base of Snapchat – 59% of users are under 24. If your brand is targeting this market, then Snapchat should definitely still be a consideration. Branded lenses and filters can be a powerful method of getting many young demographics thinking about and talking about your brand.

Clubhouse

It wouldn’t be right to publish this post without mentioning Clubhouse. The hot new social app of the moment, which is still invite-only, has sparked a huge wave of fans.

The iPhone app is an audio-based network, which enables people to host chat rooms that all users can join. You can listen in, or you could participate in the chat, but the central premise is that this is a virtual clubhouse, with each discussion happening in a different room.

The app has been growing quickly, with a reported 600,000 active users in December, to 2 million just over a month later in January 2021. It will be fascinating to see if the app takes off this year as a way to spread thought leadership and share specific knowledge. There’s a great blog about the app and its potential here from Social Media Today.

Conclusion

It looks like 2021 is set to be another huge year for social media marketing, as consumers are more engaged than ever before in the platforms. The winners will be brands that invest in their relationships with employees, customers, and influencers in order to cut through the noise.

Hootsuite noted:

“The smartest brands will understand where they fit into customers’ lives on social media, and they’ll find creative ways of fitting into the conversation.”

The figures show us that the social media giants aren’t going anywhere soon, but new and emerging platforms like TikTok and Clubhouse offer more creative opportunities for those targeting particular audiences.

To find out more about how you can apply the UK Social Media Statistics for 2021 to create a successful social media strategy for your brand, check out our upcoming workshops or on-demand courses.

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