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Looking for the latest social media statistics to fuel your strategy, growth, and ROI? It’s your lucky day.

Social media’s growth is showing no signs of slowing down. The scene is changing rapidly, with new apps and channels popping up to cater for ever-more specific consumer needs. 

To supercharge your social media marketing strategy, you need to understand why people are behaving the way they are. It’s a pretty big deal.

To get you started here are the 10 biggest social media statistics for 2023 that all marketers should know about.

1. What are the most popular social media platforms? 

There are some clear winners in the global race for social media domination. Outside of China, Facebook is still the most widely used app worldwide and has a lot of staying power among younger consumers. There’s often a huge focus on trending platforms, but Facebook is still incredibly popular and shouldn’t be overlooked.

But which platforms are the favorites? WhatsApp and Instagram are the most-loved outside of China, with 21% of users saying one or the other of these is their favorite.

WhatsApp is especially popular among older groups, so don’t neglect it if boomers or Gen X are your target audience.

Instagram is a firm favorite among Gen Z (30%), with WhatsApp in a fairly distant second place (18%).

Knowing which platforms resonate with your target market is key. Trending apps often generate the most excitement, but platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram still have strong appeal.

2. What are people using social media for?

The number of TikTokers in Western markets who say they use the platform to keep up-to-date with news has risen by 41% in the last two years. There’s also been a 52% increase in the number using it to find information about products and brands during this period.

North Americans’ most distinctive reasons for using social media platforms are keeping in touch, posting about their lives, and filling up spare time. In APAC, on the other hand, watching livestreams is the most stand out motivation, while finding products takes the top slot in Latin America.

Interestingly, engagement with TikTok has increased most among older consumers, demonstrating its cross-generational appeal. These older consumers are using social media for a wide variety of reasons and expanding their use cases for different sites.

3. How is time spent on social media changing?

In 2023 the average daily use of social media worldwide dropped for the second time since we began tracking it in 2012. Of the 48 markets we’ve tracked since Q1 2022, users’ daily time spent on social media has declined in 36 of them. 

Looking deeper into generational data sheds light on this change. The number of Gen Z in the US who say they’re trying to limit their time on social media has grown 15% since Q1 2022. Blasting the misconception that younger consumers are glued to social media, this insight proves they’re taking time to step away from screens, something we cover in our Gen Z report.

4. Which generation’s use of social media is growing fastest?

Prepare for a slight surprise. Since Q1 2020, baby boomers’ daily use of mobile has increased by 35 minutes (that’s up 31%), driven at least partly by their growing love of social media.

Baby boomers’ daily use of social media is up by 14 minutes (+18%) since Q1 2020,  the most of any generation. 

The pandemic created barriers that pushed many baby boomers to increase their time on social and mobile. They were forced to play “digital catch-up” to remain connected with family and friends and get their basic essentials.

The really interesting thing is that today, years later, instead of returning to pre-pandemic usage levels, boomers’ time on both social media and mobile has continued to rise. It seems that now they’ve got over their initial reluctance, they’re firm converts, and that their increased use of social media wasn’t just a lockdown fad.

5. How are different generations worried about social media overuse?

There’s a growing awareness across the board that too much time spent on social media can have a negative effect.

Overall, 28% of social media users are worried they overuse their chosen platforms.

That said, there are huge differences by age, with 35% of Gen Z acknowledging this fear, compared to only 23% of Gen X, and 18% of baby boomers. 

These insights may help explain our earlier stat on why Gen Z are spending less time on social media. Factors like mental health may play a role here, as just 30% say they’re comfortable talking about it – a figure that’s declined by 8% since Q2 2020. 

The rise of the de-influencer and a craving for authenticity are also likely to be pushing younger generations away from fake, filtered versions of reality. More on this next.

6. What’s the importance of social media for brand discovery?

78% of internet users say they use some form of social media when looking for more information on brands.

Social media is being increasingly used as an inspiration tool, with almost 3 in 10 Gen Z using it to get inspired. Since Q1 2019, “finding new ideas or inspiration” has jumped from 9th to 6th place as a reason for using the internet, overtaking product research in the process.

Older consumers have embraced this trend too – the number of baby boomers who use social media to find products to purchase has jumped from 6th to 4th place between Q1 2021 and Q1 2023.

These stats show why it’s so important to incorporate social media into your digital marketing strategy. You don’t have to be on every social platform, but as this data makes clear, you do need some sort of solid social media presence. Because if social media users can’t find you, then your more discoverable competitor will do just fine.

7. Which social media apps are big in China?

Xiaohongshu – known as “Little Red Book” or just “RED” internationally – is a social ecommerce app that enables users to discover and share product reviews, recommendations, and experiences.

Brands have been betting big on this platform, and it’s easy to see why. Daily users of Xiaohongshu in China have grown by 22% since Q1 2021, more than Douyin (the same app that the rest of the world calls TikTok) at 13%, or WeChat (the world’s largest instant messaging, social media, and mobile payment app) at 14%.

8. What’s the latest social media trend among Gen Z?

While videos remain popular for Gen Z, it’s audio that’s gaining the most traction right now.

17% of Gen Z say they send a voice note at least once a day.

It’s not hard to understand why. Young people are sometimes criticized by their older counterparts for not picking up the phone and relying on texting too much. There might be some truth to this: Gen Z in the US and UK are the least likely of all generations to make a phone call, but they’re the generation most likely to send voice notes at least daily – 28% more likely than older generations. 

9. Do people trust social media influencers?

It’s a mixed picture that changes significantly by age. 33% of Gen Z say they trust influencer recommendations a lot/completely, compared to just 13% of baby boomers.

That said, brands can still build trust in older generations and appeal to younger consumers in the process.

One place we see this is in advertising. By featuring older influencers and showcasing diverse body types, brands like Dove can not only appeal to older consumers but also meet the demands of younger generations who value authenticity and inclusivity. This approach can bridge the gap between generations and foster a sense of connection and relatability.

10. How is social media shopping changing?

In North America, the number of people who use either Facebook Marketplace or Instagram Shopping every month has grown by 16% since Q1 2021.

The impact of social shopping varies worldwide, and is continuously changing. Consumers in Latin America come out top for clicking on sponsored posts or ads on social media, while social media users in North America are most likely to make in-app purchases.

Brands should prioritize creating seamless and convenient shopping experiences within social platforms. Integrated features that enable users to buy directly from posts has the potential to really enhance the shopping experience so they’ll come back for more. And what retailer doesn’t want that?

ReportThe ultimate social media report 2023 Get your copy

Written by

Roger is a senior copywriter at GWI with a special interest in research and data topics. He's written three books on copywriting for major publishers that together have earned him literally dozens of pounds. His hobbies include running, music and writing about himself in the third person.

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