We Are Social in collaboration with Hootsuite today released their Digital 2019 report, examining social media and digital trends around the world.
Delving into data from across more than 230 countries and territories, the eighth annual report finds 367 million more people came online globally in 2018, adding approximately a million more people online every day.
The number of people accessing the internet now stands at 4.39 billion, up from 4.02 billion in 2018.
The Middle East was the region with the biggest increase in internet users, up by 11 per cent in 12 months, an addition of more than 18 million people.
Voice search is taking off, as had been widely tipped, with four in 10 global internet users using some kind of voice-controlled functionality.
Google, YouTube and Facebook remain the most visited websites in the world.
But there were two interesting new entries into the top 20 websites list: Netflix and Reddit.
Internet users love video, with 92 per cent watching some form of video online and 58 per cent using the internet to stream television.
Almost three-and-a-half billion people are active on social media, accounting for 45 per cent of the world’s population – up from 42 per cent in 2018.
Of these people, 3.25 billion access social media through mobile devices.
Users spend an average of two hours and 16 minutes on social networks daily.
Filipinos remain the heaviest users, browsing social media for more than four hours a day, compared with just 36 minutes in Japan.
Generally speaking, the growth of mainstream social networks has slowed in Western countries, whereas newer platforms are showing a strong increase in active users, with TikTok, a Chinese social app similar to the now defunct short video network Vine, now being significantly bigger than more established platforms like Twitter, Reddit and LinkedIn.
More than five billion people in the world (two thirds of the planet’s inhabitants), own a mobile phone. 42 per cent of us access social networks on some kind of mobile device.
More than half of internet users said they bought something online using their phones in the previous month.
Globally, 41 per cent 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.
Netflix is at number nine and music streaming service Spotify is at number 10, whereas TikTok is the fourth most downloaded smartphone app globally.
Three-quarters of all internet users reported buying products or services via the web in the previous month, with 55 per cent on a mobile device.
Total online spend on consumer goods worldwide during 2018 is estimated at $1.79 trillion, up by 14 per cent on the previous year.
Internet users love to shop for clothes and make and book holidays more than anything else – in total $750 billion was spent on travel in 2018 and $525 billion on fashion and beauty.
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.
And despite all the media hype about Bitcoin, only 5.5 per cent of internet users across the world say they own cryptocurrencies of some kind. This figure rises to 10.7 per cent in South Africa – the highest of any country in the survey.
Australia is also showing a similar upwards trend, with strong growth across the board.
Although the number of internet users is unchanged in Australia since this time last year, the report shows social media users are on the increase, with 72 per cent of all Australians being active social media users.
Facebook is still the most popular one, and an impressive 76 per cent of the adult population can be reached on this platform.
1 in 4 internet users are using voice search or voice commands, and all of the evidence suggests this is only going to increase year-on-year.
This is set to disrupt the search landscape, as people will no longer scroll through a page of search results but hearing a personalised selection of one or two results cherry-picked by their voice assistant.
Online shopping has also seen big growth in 2018, with all metrics up across the board in all shopping categories, and the total value of the consumer goods e-commerce market is now worth US$18.63 billion (+22 per cent year-on-year).
Suzie Shaw We Are Social Australia managing director Suzie Shaw said: “Australians are prepared to spend online across desktop, mobile and increasingly, social – and marketers should not overlook the huge revenue opportunity that comes from social commerce.
“Brands need to develop creative, socially-led strategies to make the most of the ever-changing users’ habits, to ensure they engage their target audience in a way that seamlessly aligns to their behaviour, adds value to their lives and drives positive business impact”.
ANZ managing director of Hootsuite Heather Cook said: “Australians are branching out and using their mobiles for more than just social media or streaming.
“The Digital 2019 report found that more Australians have CommBank’s app downloaded than Netflix or Uber.
“This signals a shift to make more of our daily lives digitised. Our world is getting more digital by the day, and consumers want to be able to do more with their smartphones”.