Research: Mobile Social Media Usage Soars Across Platforms



The number of Internet users worldwide has surpassed 4 billion, with more than half the global population online according to a new report, Digital in 2018, produced by Hootsuite and We Are Social.

Of that 4 billion, nearly 3.2 billion people are active social media users, with ever more people connecting with one another— consuming and sharing news, posting photos and status updates and interacting with businesses and brands—in the 239 countries and territories surveyed.

Key findings include:
• Internet user numbers increased 7% in the last 12 months to hit 4.021 billion, or 53% of the world’s population
• Global social media usage has increased by 13% in the last 12 months, reaching 3.196 billion users
• Mobile social media usage has increased by 14% year over year to 2.958 billion users, with 93% of social media users accessing social from mobile
• Internet users are projected to spend a combined total of 1 billion years online in 2018, of which 325 million years will be spent on social media.

Hootsuite + We Are Social This Is Digital 2018 report - social media active users by platform

Hootsuite / We Are Social - Digital in 2018 report

“With four billion people now online, connectivity is already a way of life for most of us. However, as Internet companies strive to serve the next billion users, we’ll see important changes in digital over the coming months,” said We Are Social’s Simon Kemp.

“Audio-visual content will take priority over text—especially in social media and messaging apps—while voice commands and cameras will replace keyboards as our primary means of input. Social relationships and online communities will evolve to accommodate these new ways for people to interact with each other. This will result in rich new experiences for all of us, but businesses need to start preparing for these changes today.”

Social Media = Time Spent

In 2017, 16 million people in the U.S. began using social media platforms. More than 70% of Americans online spent two hours a day on social media. Further, they spend 6.5 hours a day using the Internet—60% more time than watching television.

The Internet’s global growth has driven e-commerce: 1.77 billion users purchased consumer goods online in 2017, spending a collective total of $1.474 trillion on e-commerce platforms in the past year, a 16% rise over 2016.

Facebook is still the dominant social media platform. Total users are up 15% year-on-year, reaching almost 2.17 billion at the start of 2018.

Facebook users average age 2017


WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger both grew twice as fast as the core Facebook platform, with the number of people using each messenger app up by 30% year on year. There are now only 25 countries around the world where a Facebook-owned app isn’t the top messenger platform.

Both apps are still tied in terms of user numbers, but the latest data from SimilarWeb shows that WhatsApp has the stronger geographic position. WhatsApp is now the top messenger app in 128 countries around the world, compared to Facebook Messenger’s 72.


Hootsuite + We Are Social 2018 social media research - messenger apps

Despite these impressive messenger stats, Instagram managed to claim Facebook’s standout growth story over the past 12 months, with the number of global users up by one-third.


The origins of the Internet date back to the 1960’s with the creation of ARPANET by the U.S. Department of Defense. By the 1990’s, the modern Internet era began when computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.

“The Digital in 2018 report highlights the continuing growth of the Internet and social media to individuals and businesses around the world,” said Hootsuite CMO Penny Wilson. “This dynamic has forever altered the customer journey as consumers and B2B professionals increasingly conduct research, make buying decisions, seek support, and recommend brands online. To achieve competitive advantage, all executives must dive deep into digital now, meeting their customers where they are to best market, sell, and serve them.”

As Google veteran Eric Schmidt has commented, “The Internet is the first thing humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand—(and) the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”

Click here to download the “Digital in 2018” report.