Social media statistics

Research into how the UK and the world is using social media

Thanks to smartphones and faster Internet, social media has become an integral part of many of our lives. Whether you think this is a good thing or bad thing, we can all agree that it has had a huge impact on the way we lead our lives today. With this in mind we did some research into the biggest social networks and found some pretty impressive stats.

Quick facts

  • There are more than 25 million businesses on Instagram
  • 20 billion Facebook messages are sent between people and businesses every month
  • In 2018, 59% (40.2 million) of the UK’s population used social media

Most popular social networks

Unsurprisingly, Facebook has the most active users at 2.4 billion. This is 400 million more than YouTube, whose 2 billion active users means it ranks in second spot. WhatsApp, the messaging app, comes in third with 1.6 billion active users worldwide. Other famous sites like Instagram and Twitter came in 6th (1 billion) and 12th (300 million), respectively.

Social networks Number of active users (in millions)
Facebook 2,375
Youtube 2,000
WhatsApp 1,600
Facebook Messenger 1,300
WeChat 1,112
Instagram 1,000
QQ 823
QZone 572
Douyin/ Tik Tok 500
Siano Weibo 465
Reddit 330
Twitter 330
Douban 320
LinkedIn 310
Snapchat 294
Pintrest 265
Viber 260
Discord 250

Amount of time spent on social media normally

We would probably all admit to spending a little too much time on our phones, but despite many of us being aware of this bad habit, the average amount of time spent on our phones per day is increasing. Since 2012, there has been a global increase of 51% in the average amount of time spent on social media. The biggest yearly increase was seen between 2014 and 2015 with the amount of time spent scrolling increasing by 15.6% in just 1 year.

Year Daily time spent on social media worldwide (in minutes)
2012 90
2013 95
2014 101
2015 109
2016 126
2017 135
2018 136

Amount of time spent on social media during the coronavirus lockdown

While the big parts of the world, including the UK, is in lockdown, we’re spending more time on our phones and the internet. In the UK, 50% of Brits report they watch more news coverage now than ever before, and 32% say they spend more time on social media.

On the contrary, music streaming services are being used less than normal. Spotify reportedly lost 11.4% of listeners on their Top 200 chart between March 6 and March 13 2020.

Media Worldwide United Kingdom
Watching more news coverage 67% 50%
Watching more shows/films on streaming services 51% 32%
Spending more time on messaging services 45% 24%
Spending more time on social media 44% 21%
Reading more books/listening to more audiobooks 35% 19%
Listening to more music via steaming services 35% 14%
Creating/uploading videos 14% 6%
Listening to more podcasts 12% 11%

Amount of messages sent

We conducted a survey to see how many messages Brits thought they sent using traditional texting methods (including iMessage) and social media. Brits estimated that on average they sent 29 messages every week by text or iMessage, while they predicted the average amount of messages sent through social media was 57. This means that, on average, Brits send almost twice as many messages on social media than texting. The most popular form of social media messaging was via WhatsApp – Brits said that on average they sent 26 messages on WhatsApp every week.

Platform Average number of messages sent per week
Traditional Texts & iMessagging 29
Total social media messages 57
-WhatsApp 26
-Facebook messages 16
-Instagram messages 5
-Snapchat messages 7
-Other (e.g. viber) 4

Age breakdowns

When we think of social media we often think of teenagers being glued to their phones. However, across all the social media platforms that we analysed, the highest proportion of their users were 25–34 years old. Snapchat was the only exception to this, with the most popular age group being 18–24, with 112.2 million users worldwide falling within this age bracket.


Facebook has the more active users than any other platform. It was created in 2004 and gained popularity in 2009 among teens and young adults, explaining why the platform is most popular with those who are now 24-35 years old. Compared to other platforms Facebook sees far more users across all age groups.

Users (in millions)
13-17 134
18-24 570
25-34 670
35-44 340
45-54 207
55-66 116
65+ 84


Despite being one of the more recent social media platforms to be invented, Instagram has quickly become one of the most popular. After it’s launch in 2010 Instagram gained 1 million users in just two months and now has over 1 billion active users around the world. Unsurprisingly, the majority of Instagram’s users are aged 18-34.

Users (in millions)
13-17 57
18-24 280.4
25-34 290.4
35-44 142.2
45-54 73.1
55-66 32
65+ 19.8


When Twitter came onto the scene in 2006 the majority of users shared memes and funny anecdotes. The platform still attracts such activity but now sees numerous individuals using it for work purposes. Similarly with most social media platforms the majority of users are aged 25-34 years old.

Users (in millions)
13-17 25.5
18-24 59.8
25-34 78.5
35-49 52.5
50+ 34.4


Created in 2011, Snapchat has the lowest average age for their users compared to the other platforms, with the majority of it’s users falling within the 18-24 age group.

Users (in millions)
13-17 54.3
18-24 112.2
25-34 71.3
35+ 53.9


LinkedIn is a business and employment platform and is home to one the largest professional networks. Like many of the social media platforms the majority of their users fall within the 25-34 age group.

Users (in millions)
18-24 140.2
25-34 228.8
25-54 180.4
55+ 55


We are Social

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK Communications Manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

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