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Social media in the UK – the figures

They say bad news comes in threes and that has certainly been true for the social media giants this year. For the first time since Facebook invaded our lives back in 2004, 2018 has seen a decrease in the total number of users. Having collected every single Tweet since Twitter’s launch in 2006, this year The Library of Congress has decided it’s a waste of time. Lastly, Wetherspoons, the only pub chain open in the mornings, quit social media for good. 

So are we entering the end days of social media?

Let’s look at the stats…

Trying to find a single source of data for all the significant social media platforms in one spot is surprisingly tricky. Trying to find figures for the UK market is trickier still. Agencies like and have done excellent work but social media platforms don’t always make it easy. Pinterest and Snapchat are shy about releasing user numbers by market. LinkedIn are reluctant to reveal monthly active users, perhaps with good reason.

With an absurd amount of Googling, the odd finger in the air but primarily by building on the work of the aforementioned, we’ve unearthed the following best guess UK user figures for the eight leading social media platforms:

UK Social Total Users

Legitimate concerns around the monopolisation of the media, data privacy and fake news may have temporarily dented growth but I wouldn’t write the social media giants off just yet. The reality is that while Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have plateaued (let’s ignore Google+, everyone else is), LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest are growing. This doesn’t tell the whole tale though, as only Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are used daily.

UK Social Active Users

Those that are both growing and used daily, are Instagram and SnapChat. Interestingly, both of these platforms seem to be in a features arms race. With Facebook’s war chest behind them, this is a battle that Instagram are likely to win.

So UK brands should plough all their efforts into Instagram?

That depends on what brands use social media for. If the purpose is to engage as many people as possible, the reach and targeting possibilities of Facebook cannot be ignored, and its’ baby sister Instagram is not far behind.

If the purpose is to signpost people to your content, Twitter’s outbound links are second-to-none.

If value for money is important, Pinterest is the platform that keeps on giving.

But if the purpose is multi-fold, to have a conversation, to offer advice, to promote a campaign, to raise awareness, to nudge people to purchase, to tell a story, plus all of the above, then sadly there are no simple answers… drop us a line ;)


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