Digital 2021: The evolution of the digital landscape in the United States

Special reports
Today we launched Digital 2021: United States, 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 US.

Here in the US, we started 2021 with 11 million more internet users than we had in January last year while our ranks of active social media users swelled by 10 million over the same period. This represents a 4% year-on-year rise in both internet and active social media users, following a year many people spent in a series of pandemic-related restrictions. There are now 299 million internet users and 240 million social media users here in the US.

The total average time spent online each day for internet users aged 16-64 spent was 7 hours and 11 minutes, slightly ahead of the global figure. Social media platforms occupied an average of 2 hours and 7 minutes of users’ time daily – the second most popular online activity, after watching broadcast and streamed TV.

YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are the three most popular social media networks with internet users aged 16-64. Twitter, in spite of the loss of one notable user, has reported a 1% rise in advertising reach as of January 2021, via its suite of tools. Relative newcomer TikTok was the most downloaded smartphone app in any category during 2020, with users averaging 21 hours a month on the platform. 

Covid-19 appeared to have a significant impact on consumers’ choice of smartphone apps. Second most downloaded after TikTok was Zoom, while mobile payment service Cash App and Disney+, which launched in November 2019, both featured in the top 10. With limited opportunities to find romance in real life, dating service Tinder was the biggest smartphone app in terms of consumer spend, with rival Bumble ranked at number 8.

Other key findings in Digital 2021: The USA include:

Our managing director in New York, Benjamin Arnold, commented on the report’s findings: 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has driven changes in Americans’ digital lives at an incredible pace and proven just how powerful a tool the internet is. As 10 million more active users on social media indicates, these platforms are far from trivial distractions – they’re where we connect with our friends and families, and they are sources of vital information. Brands that still don’t get this – or don’t prioritize social in their marketing strategies – are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to connecting with consumers.”

To get in touch with We Are Social US to discuss your digital marketing approach, email us at [email protected]