Digital 2020 in Australia: 1 in 3 minutes online are spent on social


It’s that time of the year again when We Are Social and Hootsuite team up to launch the latest instalment in our Digital Report series, the last edition of which was read over 10 million times in the past year alone. Not to brag or anything.

A comprehensive look back at the last year in digital, across the globe as well as in specific countries, it’s a mammoth task that requires organising tens of thousands of data points to create thousands of charts that are personalised to hundreds of countries. The result is an invaluable snapshot of how people are using digital around the globe and how it’s shifting year-on-year. 

Herewith, everything you need to know about Digital in Australia this year.

The bigger picture

The total number of people in Australia joining the internet each year has slowed over the last few reports, as its penetration has now reached 88% of the population. Though there was only a growth of 1.2% in total internet users in 2019, the number of active social media users grew by 4.3% since last April (that’s the equivalent of another 735,000 people logging onto their favourite social media platforms). 18 million Australians are now active social media users – 71% of our total population.

Despite the number of people coming online slowing, the amount of time Australians are spending online is showing no signs of abating. Compared to our last report, we’re spending an average of 37 minutes more on the internet per day. That translates to nearly 40 hours per week that we’re spending online – roughly the same amount of time many of us spend at work (no wonder keeping up your Instagram game can feel like a full-time job). Time spent on social has also increased by 13 minutes, and now 1 in 3 minutes online is spent on social media, which is a signal of how entrenched it is in our daily life.

TikTok makes its debut in the top 16 most visited social platforms

Year-on-year, we usually see the same channels within the top 16 most-visited social media platforms. As expected, Facebook’s suite of apps placed highly, with Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp taking second to fifth place respectively, with YouTube claiming the number one spot.

There was, however, a brand new addition to the top of the charts this year, which could be a sign of big things to come. TikTok was the 5th most downloaded app of 2019 and made its way into Australia’s top 16 most-visited social platforms, with 8% of all 16 to 64-year-old internet users using it in the past month. That’s huge for such a ‘new’ platform; in hard numbers, that’s 1,784,800 visitors. The actual total number of TikTok active users is guaranteed to be even larger considering the platform skews very young and the survey data only goes as low as 16 years old. I’ll bet my lunch that TikTok will be upsetting even more of the established social platforms this time next year. 

Mobile dominates the picture

Mobile is now dominating across a number of areas. In 2019, the share of web traffic via mobile grew by 25% and now represents 47.5% of the total web pages served to any internet browsers, compared to traffic from laptops & desktops, now at 45.3%, down by 12% year-on-year.

Mobile is by far the number one way people access social media. Not only 98% of social media users access via mobile; 60.2% of Facebook users only access the social network on their smartphones, versus just 2.4% who only access on their PC. If you haven’t already started thinking about what this means for your brand’s storytelling on mobile, you’re already way behind the curve.

Grabbing your phone whenever you want to jump online is now the go-to solution for the vast majority of Australian internet users. The preference is also to be attributed to the higher average speed of mobile internet connections, at 67.66 MBPS, the 5th highest globally (improved by 20% year-on-year), whereas we fall way behind the global average in the speed of fixed connections, at 41.78 MBPS, despite a 26% improvement year-on-year.

As a result, more and more people are using their phones on-the-go for social media, chatting, texting, watching streaming services, gaming, shopping, streaming music and finding their next partner. 

It’s not all good news though. The last few years have been tough in terms of local and global politics, data leaks, environmental disasters and social unrest, all leading to the proliferation of fake news, deception and coercion within digital. As a result, 62% of online Australians expressed concern about what’s real or fake on the internet; 63% worry about how companies will use their personal data; and as a result, 1 in 2 used ad-blockers (+10% year-on-year) or deleted their cookies in the past month.

Australians are increasingly blocking or avoiding ads, so brands need to be mindful of this shift and aim to engage their audience in a way that adds value to their lives and creates conversations they will want to engage with and be part of.

In conclusion
The growth in social media users – mobile users, in particular – means there’s never been a better time to reach Australians through digital. But there has never been a bigger need to make sure that content is fit for mobile and adding value. Simply getting your content in front of people is not going to cut through in 2020. It needs to stop them in their tracks, make them pay attention and make them feel something to ultimately move the needle and impact the bottom line.

These are just a few of our highlights from the Australian Digital Report but there are plenty more numbers and stats to sift through in the full report, which you can get for free here. And if you have any questions, get in touch for a chat.