Ofcom analysed social media behaviours and the wider social landscape in its 2015 Communications Market Report.

Ofcom’s data shows the prevalence of social media in daily life, with 72% of adult internet users having a social media profile.

As with other trends it becomes more pronounced the younger the audience: 93% of 16-24 year olds have at least one social media profile. 

Facebook remains by far the largest social media property in the UK, and has developed its ‘constellation’ of apps through its acquisitions of Whatsapp and Instagram, and the development of Facebook Messenger. 

Young adults aged 16-24 have a more extensive breadth of use of social media and are adopting newer sites and services such as Twitter (40%), WhatsApp (37%), YouTube (32%), Instagram (35%), Snapchat (26%), Tumblr (8%) and Vine (4%).

However, the majority (97%) of all adults aged 16+ with a social media profile say they use Facebook, and close to half (48%) of those with a profile say they have one only on Facebook.

Facebook is also used most on a daily basis across all adults, with 20% of adults saying they use it more than 10 times a day. 

Aside from being the most popular social media site, Facebook is also used most intensively for any web property across all adults.

Frequency of use

In March 2015, UK visitors to Facebook’s services spent 51bnn minutes on them across desktop, laptop and mobile devices. In contrast, the multiplatform audience spent 34bn minutes on Google’s properties.  

The usage profile changes considerably with age.

For a much younger audience of 12-15 year olds, Snapchat is the most intensively used social app, with nearly a quarter (24%) of the audience saying they use it more than 10 times a day.

Facebook properties still feature very highly, with 50% of the audience saying they use it two or more times a day, and Instagram and Whatsapp being the third and fifth most used apps respectively. 


Although Twitter does not feature highly for the youngest audience surveyed, it is popular with older audiences having the second biggest digital audience after Facebook, with 26% of the adult population having an account. 

This rises to two-fifths (40%) among younger adults aged 16-24. More than half of Twitter users (56%) use it daily, and one in 10 (11%) use it more than 10 times a day. 

Among the 40% of online adults who claim to use Twitter, the majority of them (90%) have created an account.

Apart from retweeting, news is the topic that people are most likely to tweet about, with a third (33%) doing this. 

This is followed by complaints or frustrations, with a quarter (24%) tweeting about this.

Younger people seem to be much more comfortable using Twitter, with 34% of 16-24 year olds using Twitter to voice complaints/frustrations.

Hooked on social media

As with mobile, people have become ‘hooked’ on social, with one in five online adults (22%) indicating a rating of between 7 and 10 on a 10-point scale (where 1 equated to ‘I’m not at all hooked on social media’ up to 10 ‘I’m completely hooked on social media’).

Dependency on social media is correlated to age, with two in five (41%) 16-24 year olds giving a 7-10 ‘hooked on’ rating, falling to 6% among over-55s.

The social media landscape has changed significantly since the early days of Facebook.

This year’s Ofcom report shows that social is now practically synonymous with mobile, the three top downloaded apps in 2014 belong to Facebook, and the fourth was YouTube.

With social replacing some traditional media behaviours, understanding social behaviour is crucial for marketers wanting to reach audiences.

For lots more up-to-date statistics…                                           

Download Econsultancy’s Internet Statistics Compendium, a collection of the most recent statistics and market data publicly available on online marketing, ecommerce, the internet and related digital media.

It’s updated monthly and covers 11 different topics from advertising, content, customer experience, mobile, ecommerce and social.

James Ellis

Published 19 August, 2015 by James Ellis

James Ellis is a Research Analyst at Econsultancy. You can connect with him on LinkedIn

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