Ofcom’s Communications Market 2018 report is out providing a whole host of insights into how people are consuming television, radio, the internet, plus much more. It’s a critical resource for those of us who work in public relations, providing data to back-up communications programmes. In this blog post, I’ve specifically drawn out the social media insights which stood out.

There are countless statistics and insights that can be drawn from the report. You can access Ofcom’s full report here.

 #1 Social media is mainstream (obviously)

More than three-quarters of UK internet users (77%) have a social media profile or messaging app account. This has remained unchanged since 2016. Whilst Facebook is still the most visited social site reaching 41 million internet users, it is beginning to see a downward trend in the number of under-35s accessing the site.

In the same period Snapchat and Instagram have seen an increase in their user numbers; in March 2018, 22.1 million people visited Snapchat and 23.1 million visited Instagram.

 #2 Snapchat Vs Instagram

The average Snapchat user spends 8 minutes per day on the app, with Instagram users just spending 5 minutes. Despite this, a higher proportion of people use Instagram every day compared to Snapchat. It’s worth noting that Snapchat is no longer just a young person’s game as in October 2017 more 25-34s were using the app, compared to the 18-24 age group in the UK.

UK social media reach by platform

 #3 Social is an essential part of commuting

It won’t come as a surprise that social media is a popular activity when commuting. The research showed that 71% of commuters use their smartphone whilst commuting, with 18% using laptops and 12% using tablets. 32% access social media sites on their commute, with a further 27% doing general internet browsing. Sending and receiving messages is the most important part of commuting, with 43% saying they did this.

 #4 Being online can help personal relationships

74% of adults agree that being online allows them to stay in touch with friends and family. However, there was an acknowledgment that internet-connected devices can interrupt face-to-face conversations with people. Quite often being online happens whilst doing other things. For example, 70% of people use another screen whilst watching TV, with 54% of this group using this to keep up with social media developments.

Perceived importance of the internet for relationships

 #5 Not socially acceptable social

The most socially unacceptable activity was talking on a phone during a meal with others. However, 53% of people didn’t approve of those who use their phone whilst watching TV with others or those who used their phone whilst walking down the road (63%). It’s interesting to note that these results are from correspondents admitting that they use smartphones in ways they think are not acceptable.

 #6 YouTube is the social side of TV

Broadcasters are seeing a continually fragmented audience across terrestrial TV, subscription services, and YouTube. On average people watch 29 minutes of YouTube every day, with young adults watching an hour a day. It’s interesting to note that both YouTube and Netflix had a higher brand recognition than the BBC or ITV among 12 – 15-year-olds. 41.9 million people accessed Google sites in March 2018, with YouTube by far the most important platform (40 million).

 #7 Not everyone has benefited from connectivity

Sadly lower-income households and over-54s are less likely to have smartphones, laptops, and tablets. One can assume this will naturally impact social media users in those groups, but specific data isn’t provided on this topic. On the subject of connectivity, our average broadband speeds are also slower than most of Europe.

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