Adrian Peter Tse
Jan 28, 2016

Mobile, connectivity, conversation: We Are Social’s Global Digital Trends for 2016

ASIA-PACIFIC – Connectivity is becoming the norm. Social media is once again about conversations. And if you’re still wondering about how to optimise your website for mobile, others are leaving you in the dust.

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In We Are Social’s annual study of digital, social and mobile usage trend’s from around the world, the agency sheds light on the state of digital and presents data, stats and insights on 30 of the world’s key economies. 

The key statistics for digital, social, and mobile media in 2016 are:

• 3.42 billion internet users, equaling 46% global penetration
• 2.31 billion social media users, delivering 31% global penetration
• 3.79 billion unique mobile users, representing 51% global penetration
• 1.97 billion mobile social media users, equating to 27% global penetration

Internet growth in Asia

According to We Are Social, Asia-Pacific registered the largest absolute growth in internet user numbers—up by nearly 200 million—which translates to a 12 per cent year-on year growth. The region saw half a million people use the Internet for the first time every single day in the past twelve months or “six new users every second.”

Globally and in terms of individual country rankings, Iceland comes in first place for countries with populations of 50,000 people or more, registering 98 per cent penetration. Bermuda and Norway are close behind, with 97 per cent and 96 per cent penetration respectively.

At the other end of the scale, North Korea suffers from the lowest internet penetration
worldwide, with barely 7,000 people reported to be able to access the internet.

We Are Social notes that this internet user figure is derived from the number of Facebook users accessing the platform from North Korea, since there is “no internet service provider in North Korea.” The report also suggests that most of these user figures are likely “foreign nationals accessing via mobile devices.”

According to the report, Brazilians and Filipinos spend the most time using the internet, clocking in at an average of 5.2 hours per day. Together with Thais, the Brazilians also top the list for the amount of time spent using mobile internet, registering an average of 3.9 hours per day.

In keeping with the counter-intuitive trend over the past few years, We Are Social highlighted that Japanese and South Koreans spend the least amount of time on the internet each day compared to the rest of the “Key 30 countries”, at just 2.9 and 3.1 hours respectively.

 

 

Social media usage

Nearly one-third of the world’s population now uses social media, with the number of reported users around the world increasing by 10 per cent in the past twelve months

We Are Social’s report indicates that despite some modest gains in 2015, Central and South Asia still have low social media usage, at 6 per cent and 11 per respectively.

When it comes to individual countries, the agency said Taiwan achieves the year’s ‘most social’ award, with 77 per cent of the total population using Facebook in the past 30 days. South Korea comes in at number two, with 38.4 million of its total 50.4 million population using KakaoTalk each month.

At the low end of the scale, North Korea comes in last place again, with just 6,800 users out of a total population of more than 25 million.

According to the study, Filipinos spend the most time on social media, clocking in more than 3.5 hours per day. At the other end of the scale, the Japanese spend an average of less than 20 minutes per day on social media.

 

 

Dominant social platforms

The 2016 Digital Trends report indicates that Facebook continues to dominate the global social platform rankings with more than 1.5 billion active accounts, but one of the company’s other offerings, WhatsApp, grew a staggering 50 per cent in the past year.

Citing data from GlobalWebIndex, We Are Social suggests that WhatsApp is already ahead of Facebook in a number of markets, and that trends suggest this will occur on a more frequent basis through 2016.

Facebook’s other chat platform, Facebook Messenger, continues to grow too, with a recent announcement that the app had surpassed 800 million active users.

We Are Social said that China’s social world continues its “love affair with Tencent” with the company’s QQ messenger platform growing slightly to register 860 million active accounts last quarter. The report noted that many people continue to “operate two or more QQ accounts” and that the numbers cannot be used to represent social media penetration.

However, Tencent’s two other platforms, QZone and WeChat, continue to grow too; both platforms reported roughly 650 million monthly active users each in the past quarter. We Are Social forecasts that WeChat will likely overtake QZone in the coming quarter too.

In Japan, Line’s popular messenger platform dominates, achieving roughly 42 per cent national penetration, whilst KakaoTalk dominates in South Korea with a whopping 76 per cent penetration.

 

 

We Are Social’s summary on the state of digital 

  • Mobile is dramatically changing everything: Mobile phones aren't just a more convenient way to access the internet; they’re changing people’s fundamental connected behaviour. The agency advises that “success tomorrow won’t just be about a mobile web presence, but about optimising your entire organisation for a mobile-centric world.”
  • Connectivity is becoming the norm: more than half of the world’s adult population now uses the internet, and well over one-third of the adult population uses social media at least once a month. As a result, businesses and brands need to explore how connectivity can improve every element of their business, not just their advertising.
  • For most people, social is (once again) about conversations: For everyone except marketers, social media is quickly returning to what ‘social’ has always been for human beings: connecting on a personal basis with the people we care about most. We Are Social advises marketers to create “truly social brands, and not just brands that interrupt people where they’re socialising with each other.”

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