A million new internet users came online every day in 2018, according to We Are Social and Hootsuite

We Are Social, the socially-led creative agency, in collaboration with Hootsuite, the world’s leader in social media management, released their Digital in 2019 report, examining social media and digital trends around the world.

Delving into data from across more than 230 countries and territories, the 8th annual report finds 367m more people came online globally in 2018, adding approximately a million more people online every day.

Key Learnings:


The number of people accessing the internet now stands at 4.39 bn, up from 4.02bn in 2018. The Middle East was the region with the biggest increase in internet users, up by 11% in 12 months, an addition of over 18m people. In the UK, 95% of the population is now online, with 67% of the population (45m) actively using social media (2.3% y-o-y growth in social).

Voice search is really taking off, as has been widely tipped, with four in 10 of global internet users using some kind of voice-controlled functionality. Indians are the most frequent users, with 51% employing voice services of some kind, while the Dutch live up to their taciturn reputation with the lowest uptake – just 13%. In the UK, 26% of internet users now use voice search or voice commands.

Three of the top 20 websites are classified as ‘adult’ – so pornography is as popular as ever – while Google, YouTube and Facebook remain the most visited sites in the world. But there were two interesting new entries into the list: Netflix and Reddit. No matter where you live, weather remains a constant obsession – it’s one of the top-20 most searched-for terms in no fewer than three languages.

With all the scandals around Facebook and other brands failing to protect our privacy, it seems that internet users still err on the side of trust with nearly six in 10 people saying that they don’t believe their data is misused online. When it comes to accessing advertising almost half of people browse the internet using some form of ad blocker – although in many countries this is motivated more by page loading speed rather than privacy concerns.

Global internet users love video, with 92% watching some form of video online and 58% using the internet to stream television. 70% of internet users in the UK watch video on their mobile and 47% play games.

Social Media

Almost three-and-a-half billion people are active on social media, accounting for 45% of the world’s population – up from 42% in 2018. Of these people, 3.25 bn access social media through mobile devices.

We spend an average of two hours and 16 minutes on social networks daily globally. Filipinos remain the heaviest users, browsing social media for more than four hours a day, compared with just 36 minutes in Japan. The average time spent on social media on any device in the UK is 1 hour 50 mins, and UK users have 7.1 social media accounts each on average.

Generally speaking, the growth of mainstream social networks has slowed in Western countries, where social media is now an ingrained part of daily life, but dynamic economies including Nigeria, Brazil, India and China, saw social media uptake on the rise. Just under a quarter of internet users, 24%, access social media for work purposes.


More than 5 billion people in the world, two thirds of the planet’s inhabitants, own a mobile phone. Forty-two per cent of us access social networks on some kind of mobile device. More than half of internet users globally said they bought something online using their phones or tablets in the past month, 45% in the UK. Globally, 41% of internet users have accessed banking services via mobile but in Thailand and Sweden more than seven in 10 report using mobile banking.

Two thirds of connected phones are smartphones and the most popular apps in the world are Facebook Messenger, Facebook and WhatsApp – the UK’s top three consists of the same apps. Netflix is at number nine globally and music streaming service Spotify is at number 10. TikTok, a Chinese social app similar to the now defunct short video network Vine, is the fourth most downloaded smartphone app globally.


Three-quarters of all internet users reported buying products or services via the web in the past month, 55% on a mobile device. Total online spend on consumer goods worldwide during 2018 is estimated at $1.79 trillion, up by 14% on the previous year.

Internet users love to shop for clothes and make and book vacations more than anything else – in total $750bn was spent on travel in 2018 and $525bn on fashion and beauty. This is also true of the UK, where the travel industry (including accommodation) saw the most consumer spend online in 2018, with $42.4 billion being spent via online travel booking sites, up 7.7% year-on-year.

Amazon, Nike and iPhone were the biggest search terms on Google Shopping in 2018, but a surprise entry came from Fortnite, in at number 20. In the UK, Fornite made it into YouTube’s top five search queries in 2018, along with songs, music, Peppa Pig and movies.

And despite all the media hype about Bitcoin, only 5.5% of internet users across the world say they own cryptocurrencies of some kind. This figure rises to 10.7% in South Africa, the highest of any country in the survey.

“It’s clear that the world continues to embrace the internet and social media. Despite concerns around privacy and other negative aspects of online life, a surprising 58% of us globally are apparently unconcerned that our data is being misused; we could see this change over the next 12 months, as awareness spreads from marketing and technology communities to broader internet users,” said Jim Coleman, UK chief executive, We Are Social.

“While the growth of mainstream social networks has slowed in Western countries, this is due to the fact that the majority of eligible audiences in Western markets already use it. Social media is now an ingrained part of everyday life in many markets and across many cultures. Brands need to develop creative, socially-led strategies to make the most of the world’s evolving online habits – especially when it comes to adapting to voice-controlled devices, which are really starting to take off both in the UK and globally.”

“Although social media came under increased scrutiny and saw diminished trust among users in 2018, people around the world are spending more time on social—the global daily average is now 2 hours and 16 minutes, or one seventh of their waking lives,” noted Penny Wilson, CMO of Hootsuite. “But to capture the attention of customers and prospects, brands need to rethink how they engage on social. Businesses must be respectful of their customers’ privacy, while still creating personal 1:1 connections via content that’s important, interesting and timely to the audience while being genuine and authentic to their brand.”

Source: We Are Social

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