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With a population of 63m, the UK has 55m internet users, 36m Facebook users and 82m mobile subscriptions (which is 30% more than our actual population).

This makes the UK prime territory for digital marketers, but how do we compare with the rest of Europe?

We Are Social has published its Social, Digital and Mobile in Europe Report and it reveals an insight into how much the online world has penetrated our everyday lives.

In the UK, the average time that internet users spend on the internet each day is four hours and six minutes, that’s just through a desktop or laptop computer.

Mobile internet penetration for the UK currently stands at 62% of the total population, with those users currently accessing mobile internet for an average of one hour and 34 minutes.

Let’s compare those figures to the rest of Europe.

  • In the UK, internet penetration is 87%
  • The European average is 68%
  • In the UK, social network penetration is 74%
  • The European average is 40% 
  • In the UK, mobile subscription penetration is 130%
  • The European average is 139% 

As you can see we’re certainly ahead of the curve compared to mainland Europe, especially in terms of internet and social network usage.

Internet penetration map of Europe

We are still some way behind the Scandinavian countries though where internet penetration is commonly over 90%. The UK is higher than the European average of 68% by 19%.


There are 293m active social media users in Europe, with 194m of those accessing social media through mobile devices.

Here are some more social indicators for Europe.

Compare that to the UK, where social media penetration is 74% of the population, and 45% of those users access social media on their mobile devices.

Social media penetration of Europe

The European average is 40% and the UK sits 17% above that European average.

In regards to time spent on the social media, the UK is somewhere in the middle of the European average, with 1.6 hours a day, however Italy leads the pack with two hours a day spent on social media.


Here’s how the UK currently looks for smartphone usage.

73% of smartphone users use their device for browsing, and 39% have made a purchase via their phone. Encouraging numbers for ecommerce, but also a warning that if 87% of smartphone users are looking for local information via their phones, your local business needs to have a responsive or mobile optimised site to remain in the competition.

In the UK, the percentage of mobile subscriptions that are 3G connected is 63%, so internet connections are increasingly becoming faster and able to load heavier pages more easily. The European average is 41%

Social on mobile

There are 30m active social media users who access their accounts through a mobile device in the UK, we account for 15% of the total number of European mobile social media users.

47% of the population of the UK access social media on a mobile device, nearly double that of the European average of 26%

For Econsultancy's own insight and guidance, download the latest Mobile Marketing and Commerce Report.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 6 February, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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