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UK Social media stats | 2013 vs 2018

August 14, 2018 / Reading Time: 6 minutes /
Sascha Richards

Over the past five years, social media has grown and developed exponentially, becoming an undeniably strong presence in our lives. In this blog post, we delve into the ways in which the social scene has changed – focusing specifically on shifts in user demographics and behaviours from 2013 to 2018.

Let’s begin!

Over the five year time period, we can see the UK population has notably risen from 65 million to 66.57 million, with the percentage of people who have access to the internet also increasing. Around 87% of people in the UK now access the internet, with most admitting to spending almost one day per week connected; whether they are busy on social networks, shopping, researching – the list could go on. Whereas in 2013, only 63% of the entire population were active on social media.

So, just how much has the social media landscape changed? Well, in 2013 it was recorded that only 80% of the population were active online. Although this still seems high, year-on-year we have seen small percentage increases. To put this into perspective, in today’s digital age, 9 out of 10 people in 2018 will have access to the internet and use it frequently.

Another outstanding fact is that in 2018 the social media habits of women broke history, as we now see women spending more time online than men across all age groups under 55.

How much time do we spend using social media?

In January 2016, we were spending an average of 1 hour 29 minutes on social media across all devices – with the overall time spent online being 2 hours and 51 minutes per day. So far, in 2018, on average we’re spending an increased time of 3 hours and 25 minutes online per day.

In the graph below you can see how long each demographic is spending online, with 18-24 years being the most active age group.

Not only has the amount of time spent online shifted, but the way in which we participate in online activity has altered too. Individuals are now capable of accessing the internet through a range of devices – with the three biggest contenders being desktop, mobile and tablet.

In 2013 only 49% of users would use their mobile phone to connect to the internet, whereas in 2018 mobile is by far the most popular device. UK adults are predominantly accessing the web via smartphone, highlighting the fact that we are now very much a mobile-first generation.


We thought 1.19 billion monthly active Facebook users in 2013 was impressive! However, by no surprise, Facebook remains the most popular social media site today, withstanding 2.23 billion monthly active users – that’s an incredible 1.04 billion increase in 5 years! Astonishingly, 90% of active internet users have Facebook accounts.

In 2013, Facebook was predominantly used by the younger generation, being most popular amongst individuals aged 15-24, and amounting to 25% of all Facebook’s users. In close succession were users aged between 25-34. In 2016 we reported that all the age ranges seemed to be levelling out – with gaps becoming much closer to one another, however in 2018 the highest number of Facebook users are amongst the 25-34 age bracket.

With all this data we can conclude that as the years have gone by, increasingly older internet users over 55 can be found amongst the social network. This could be due to the previous 15-24-year-olds in 2013 growing in parallel with the social network over the past 14 years, making up the new age bracket of 2018. Interestingly, we’re now seeing fewer millennials using Facebook actively, as they steer their valuable online time and attention towards other networks like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

Back in 2016 we also noticed a 6% increase of users in the age group of 55 and above. We are still singing the same tune 3 years later, as there is a continuous surge of over 55s using Facebook, making them the second biggest active demographic. To put this into retrospective there has been an increase of 200,000 users aged 55-64 and 300,000 users aged 64+. With the loss of the younger Facebook audience, but an increase in the older generation, Facebook still remains the most active social platform.

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With Instagram entering its 6th birthday this year, we can confidently say it has made significant advancements since being bought by Facebook in 2012.

In 2016, Instagram had 300 million global users, with 14 million active users in the UK (the total population of Wales, London and Manchester combined!) 3 years later Instagram has  hit its 1 billion active users global milestone and is now recognised as the fastest growing social network of 2018, having increased from 800 million users in 2017 – that’s some incredible success!

As Instagram’s popularity shot up this year, we’ve seen them develop their offering at speed to keep apace, launching an impressive 7 updates. Amongst these is the recent attempt to tackle YouTube with the introduction of IGTV – a hub for creators to upload long-form video, allowing them to make money from advertisements. Other updates include:

Since their launch in 2016, Instagram stories have become increasingly popular, with 250 million daily active users registered in 2018. Instagram stories show no sign of slowing down, with the increase of features like Gifs, fonts/types, the ability to resize photos and automatically share your Instagram story to Facebook. Discover Instagram advertising  


In a similar fashion, Twitter has grown significantly in the past 5  years, from 15 million active monthly users in 2013, to  335 million monthly active users in 2018.

However, interestingly, just 47% of UK adults say they actively use Twitter, with only a small number of individuals admitting to using the platform once a day.

Predominantly in 2013, 31% of Twitter users were aged between 15 and 24, 26% were aged between 25-34, 25% were aged 35-44 and 19% were 45 and over. By 2016 we discovered more individuals over the age of 45 were using Twitter and in 2018 the biggest age demographic for Twitter users is 16-22. Discover twitter advertising


We’ve also seen Snapchat grow in popularity, with 22.7 million adult users in 2018, compared to when it launched in 2011 and only 127 users could be identified (fun fact: Snapchat was initially called Picaboo which explains the little ghost logo!)

By 2013, 150 million snaps were being sent every day. Soon, Snapchat Stories launched and the app developments didn’t stop here with their differentiating features such as:

Snapchat is widely recognised as one of the most successful social media platforms, with year-on-year growth up 122%, since 2017 – brought about by the influx of users within the 25+ demographic.

Record-breakingly, more 25-35-year-olds are using Snapchat than there are 18-24s in the UK! Initially, users had to pay for features from the Lens Store before becoming entirely free like we know today. Snapchat now offers other companies the chance to sponsor filters for an advertising fee – smart thinking from Snapchat. Discover Snapchat advertising

In conclusion it is fair to say that we have witnessed impressive growth and development across all social media platforms since 2013, some more than others with Facebook remaining top dog. It has been interesting to uncover the shift in user demographics over the years, with females spending more time online than men, the older generation being more active and Instagram and Snapchat showing that they are forces to be reckoned with.

We can’t wait to see what happens in the next five years for social media, keep your eyes peeled as we continue to generate new content around the latest social media features as and when they arrive on our blog.

Hungry for more statistics? Why not review the Communications Market 2018 report – (it’s one of our favourites), Statista and Business Insider are also great resources.

Do you need support on building your social media channels? Our digital experts are happy to help – please don’t hesitate to get in touch today!

Original 2013 – 2016 sources

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