Today we launched Digital 2021: United Kingdom, part of our series of annual global digital reports (check out our global report, Digital 2021, if you haven’t seen it already). It’s a comprehensive report covering digital, social and mobile use in the UK.

The UK is experiencing an evolution in search behaviours; while 98% of UK internet users aged 16-64 use a conventional search engine, 31% now use voice searches and commands, and 28% use social media to search for brand information. 

The time we spend on the internet daily has increased from 5 hours 28 minutes to 6 hours 26 minutes year-on-year, following a year that was spent in a series of Covid-19 related lockdowns. This means Britons now spend one full day more per month using the internet versus a year ago.

Social media use has seen a more modest increase, from 1 hour 42 minutes a year ago, to 1 hour 49 minutes today. The report shows that YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp are the UK’s most used social platforms for internet users aged 16-64. 

Digital 2021: The United Kingdom also shows that the pandemic has impacted the apps people in the UK are downloading. Zoom took the top spot, followed by TikTok. The NHS’s Covid-19 app sits in third place. 

Other key findings in Digital 2021: The United Kingdom include:

  • Older consumers are shopping online in the UK: Internet users aged 45-54 were the most likely to have purchased a product online in the last month (88%) followed by those aged 55-64 (86%). Those 16-24 year olds were the lowest, with 82%. 
  • Mobile gamers: 51% of UK internet users aged 16-64 play games on smartphones, compared to 37% on games consoles and 30% on laptops or desktops.
  • Facebook’s tools show that Instagram increased its potential advertising reach - the audience that marketers can reach on its platform - by 3 million users in the past three months, equating to quarterly growth of 11%. Similarly, Snapchat has reported that advertisers can reach an additional 2 million users on the platform compared to October 2020, a 10% increase.

Our UK chief executive, Jim Coleman, commented on the report’s findings: 

“It’s remarkable to see the impact the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns has had on our digital lives over the last year. From the apps we’re downloading, to how we’re shopping - social and digital have now become inextricably woven into a greater number of lives at a deeper level than ever before. Given this, it’s never been more important for marketers to understand online and social media cultures in order to reach people - of all age groups - in a relevant way.”

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