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The Latest Digital and Social Media Statistics for 2021


Last year alone, there were almost half a billion new social media users. Did you happen to know that 1.3 billion years were spent using the internet so far? One thing is for sure though; trillions were spent on ecommerce.

Below are some of the latest digital and social media insights for 2021.



Facts to Keep in Mind

At the start of 2021, the world’s population reached 7.83 billion. According to the United Nations, this figure is currently seeing 1% increase each year; in other words, since the start of 2020, the global population has grown by more than 80 million people.

Currently, 66.6% out of these 7.83 billion people use a mobile phone which equates to 5.22 billion people. Since January 2020, 93 million people have been added to the unique mobile users having grown by 1.8 percent. Furthermore, at the start of 2021, the total number of mobile connections has seen a 0.9% increase (+72 million) reaching a total of 8.02 billion.

In January 2021, the number of people around the world using the internet was 4.66 billion, with an increase of 7.3% (+316 million) compared to January 2020. In fact, people using the internet worldwide stand today at 59.5% of the global population.

Currently, social media users worldwide reach 4.20 billion. Over the last year, this figure has grown by 490 million, with an increase of more than 13% compared to last year. Thus, social media users stant today at 53% of the world’s total population.



The Ever-growing Social Media Adoption

Undoubtedly the outbreak of COVID-19 has driven a significant growth in social media adoption.

In fact, over the past year, social media users increased by more than 13% with the global user total having reached almost 4.2 billion, while nearly half a billion new users joined social media by the start of 2021.

Notable is the fact that more than 1.3 million new users on average joined social media each day of 2020, meaning that roughly 15½ new users joined social media each single second of 2020.

And although COVID-19 has indeed brought considerable changes in digital behaviours, people claim that they spend almost the same amount of time every day on social media today as they did last year.

As a matter of fact, the increase in the daily average time spent on social media stands at more than half an hour over the past 5 years. Breaking it down, 2 hours and 25 minutes is the time the typical user now spends each day on social media, meaning almost one full day of their life each week.



Mobile-first Users are on the Rise

Today, mobile phone users equate to 2/3 of the world’s total population, according to GSMA (an organisation that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide). Hence, 5.2 billion people use mobile phones equating to more than 85% of the world’s total population aged 13 and above.



The Game is Still in for the Other Devices

Almost 53% of the time the world spends online is accounted for on mobile phones. However data show that the game is not lost for the other devices in our lives.

Despite the 90% of the internet users who say they access the internet via a smartphone, the 66% also say that they use a desktop or a laptop computer to do so.

Even so, statistics differ considerably by country. And in spite of mobiles currently being the main internet access device in all countries, there is a quite small chasm between mobiles and computers, especially in Western Europe.

What plays a role in shaping these ratios is the stage of a country’s economic development, with the median age of the population being a critical driver as well.

In fact, Baby Boomers go online preferably via computers and tablets than via phones, with less than 50% of the users aged 45 and above using mobile devices to access the internet.

In the meantime, the world’s internet activity still relies heavily on computers according to the latest data.

In fact, more than 40% of web pages served in December 2020 were accessed through web browsers running on desktop and laptop devices.

Again, the aforementioned activity differs significantly between countries. According to recent studies, more that 8 in 10 pages served to web browsers in Nigeria are being requested through mobile phones; but that doesn’t stand for Russia too, where this figure drops to barely a quarter of web pages.



People are Changing Their Online Search Behaviours

The top motivation of the 2/3 of the world’s internet users going online is to find information.

However, for anyone hoping to engage a digital audience this should not be their only objective since the world’s online behaviour is evolving according to latest research.

Backing that up, 98% of the online users still turn to conventional search engines every month to find what they are looking for.

And What About Social Search?

Social search is rising and this is the case with almost 45% of global internet users. When they research about services or products they consider buying, they do so on social networks; and this happens at least once per month.

Here, younger age groups lead the way since research shows that Gen Z internet users prefer searching for a brand on social networks than on a search engine, with younger Millennials following.


As we see, data is constantly changing following the online behaviours of the global population. For that reason, marketeers should be on the lookout for anything new that could be used as a tool in their marketing efforts.

Small businesses of course are the ones that are facing the biggest challenges; so if you are one of them, read NAG’s actionable tips on how to overcome these challenges successfully.

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Sources: Statista, DataReportal, Hootsuite, WeAreSocial