5 min read

Navigating Digital Marketing in 2024

Published on
February 26, 2024

In today's rapidly evolving marketing world, staying ahead of the curve is not just beneficial - it's a necessity. The recently released "Digital 2024" report by Meltwater, in collaboration with We Are Social, serves as a comprehensive guide, offering insights that brands and marketers can leverage to understand the dynamic digital landscape.

The full study, spanning over 550 pages, sheds light on the behaviours, preferences, and trends shaping social media and digital marketing today. In this blog, we will delve into key findings from the report, answering pivotal questions that will guide brands in crafting strategies that resonate with their target audience.

Kicking off our three-part series, we're diving into the big global headlines first and answering the questions of:

How many people are using social media globally?

Which social media platforms are currently the most popular?

How much time do people spend on social media?

What implications do these trends have for marketing budgets?

Let's begin our exploration and dive into the trends shaping tomorrow's marketing world.

How many people are using social media globally?

The "Digital 2024" report marks a momentous milestone in the digital evolution: the global social media user count has now surpassed 5 billion. This statistic is not just a number; it represents an enormous audience that is increasingly accessible to marketers worldwide.

The implication is clear: businesses now have the unprecedented ability to reach over 62.3% of the global population through social platforms. This expansion requires marketers to tailor their strategies more precisely, targeting not just by demographics but by the varied interests and behaviours that these platforms unveil.

However, reflecting on the nuanced landscape of social media growth, it's important to acknowledge that despite a global rise in user identities by 5.6%, marking an increase of 266 million, the narratives in the UK and US differ from the global trend. Both nations witnessed a reduction in the creation of new social media accounts, with the UK experiencing a decline of 900,000 social media identities and the US seeing a reduction of 7 million compared to the previous year's records.

Nevertheless, it's critical to contextualise these figures within the broader environment. Despite these dips, the penetration of social media in these countries significantly dwarfs the global average, boasting 70.1% in the US (equating to 239 million social media user identities) and an even more impressive 82.8% in the UK (56.2 million social media user identities).

This difference underscores not just the matured state of social media in these markets but also the enduring importance of understanding regional dynamics when devising digital marketing strategies.

Which social media platforms are currently the most popular?

Surpassing WhatsApp, Instagram has climbed to the top spot as the preferred social media platform for users aged 16-64. This confirms a shift towards engaging and visually appealing content. The popularity of Instagram's stories, reels, and high-quality images highlights a crucial strategy for brands: creating visually attractive and interactive content is key to capturing and retaining audience attention.

Despite Facebook's stronghold as the most utilised social media platform with over 3 billion active users, Meta's Instagram, boasting 2 billion active users, secures the title of the world's favourite. With 16.5% of users naming Instagram as their preferred platform, it nudges WhatsApp into a close second with 16.1%, and places Facebook in third. This order, followed by WeChat and TikTok, underscores a diversifying digital landscape where user preferences are segmented by platform functionalities and the unique experiences they offer.

On average, individuals aged 16 to 64 are active on at least six social media platforms, reflecting a wide spectrum of online activity. Instagram's dominance is especially pronounced within the 16 to 34 age group, highlighting its appeal to younger users. In contrast, those aged 45 to 64 show a preference for WhatsApp and Facebook, indicating differences in platform use and content preferences across age groups.

This understanding of platform preferences across generations emphasises the need for a diversified social media strategy. It also underscores the necessity for brands to adapt and align with the varied preferences of their audiences.

How much time do people spend on social media?

According to the research from GWI, people spend on average 2 hours and 23 minutes on social media each day. TikTok is at the forefront of this usage, with individuals dedicating around 34 hours per month, closely followed by YouTube. This trend underscores the importance of creating content that is not only engaging but also tailored to each platform's unique algorithms to increase visibility and user interaction.

Specifically, TikTok shows remarkable user engagement, with over 61.7% of its users accessing the app daily, highlighting its wide appeal and availability for content consumption. YouTube and Facebook remain key players, with users spending 28 hours and 5 minutes, and 19 hours and 47 minutes per month on these platforms, respectively.

Moreover, the research reveals that social media constitutes 35.8% of our daily online activities, emphasising its significant role in our digital lives and indicating that over a third of our online time is spent on these platforms.

The shift in media consumption patterns, particularly from traditional TV to digital platforms, is notable. While global TV viewing averages have decreased to 3 hours and 6 minutes per day, the figures are interestingly higher in the US and UK, at 4 hours and 39 minutes and 3 hours and 43 minutes, respectively. These differences can be platform influenced with YouTube’s consumption for example now also happening on Smart TVs.

Nevertheless, the insights from the "Digital 2024" report not only underline the extensive influence of social media but also the evolving landscape of digital versus traditional media engagement. For marketers and content creators, understanding these trends is critical for developing narratives that are both engaging and relevant, aimed at capturing the attention of a digitally-savvy audience that spends a large portion of their day on social media apps.

What implications do these trends have for marketing budgets?

The "Digital 2024" report unveils a significant climb in digital advertising spend, with an incredible $720 billion allocated to digital ads in 2023. This increase not only signals the growing importance of digital platforms in marketing strategies but also points to a shift towards more targeted and effective advertising methods.

As brands increasingly tap into social media ads and influencer partnerships, the emphasis on strategic budgeting to enhance return on investment becomes clearer. According to Statista, social media ad spending rose by 9.3% in 2023, reaching a total of $207 billion, indicating a strong push towards leveraging digital communities and personalities.

Furthermore, search ads captured a substantial $280 billion of the digital ad spend, reaffirming their vital role in digital marketing strategies. This significant investment highlights the ongoing value of search advertising in connecting with consumers effectively.

These evolving trends underscore an important shift in marketing budgets, showing the importance of a strategic, balanced approach to digital advertising. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, focusing on investments in platforms and formats that deliver measurable results and high engagement levels is essential for maximising marketing spend efficiency.


In the constantly evolving realm of digital marketing, the "Digital 2024" report by Meltwater offers invaluable insights into the extensive role of social media and strategic shifts in marketing. Spanning over 500 pages, it highlights the complexity of marketing in today's digital age, with headline findings shown above that illuminate user preferences, habits, and the critical importance of targeted, engaging content, alongside strategic marketing budget allocation.

As we explore the UK and US markets in our upcoming blogs, we will also examine the unique characteristics, advertising reach, and potential of various platforms. This information is essential for marketers looking to refine their strategies to achieve maximum impact and return on investment.

If you found this blog helpful, consider sharing it with your peers. Also for tailored advice on navigating the digital marketing landscape, don't hesitate to contact us.

Stay tuned as we turn insights into actionable strategies together.

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