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UK tops mobile social table in new Ofcom communications report

Ofcom has released its annual report into communications trends. While the epic read touches on everything comms, from TV consumption to radio and telecoms, it’s the new online content and social media usage data (a chapter that is 43 pages on its own) that we have delved into and pulled out for you in this blog post.

Ofcom - social network active reach

Ofcom has reviewed UK and European trends, and in some of this new report the data looks year on year. WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube are dominant forces here, unsurprisingly. Also, the UK has the highest proportion of mobile social media users, ahead of the US, while Italy and Spain are the highest users of social networks across devices.

Here is a summary of Ofcom’s findings, and the full report is online and available to download here.

Social networking, instant messaging and gaming apps are the most commonly downloaded on iPhone and Google Play across comparator countries. On iPhone, WhatsApp Messenger was the most downloaded app in Spain, Singapore, Brazil, India and Nigeria. On Google Play, Facebook was the most downloaded app in the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Poland and Nigeria. On both iPhone and Google Play, at least one gaming app featured in twelve countries’ top five most downloaded apps.

Google is the most popular search engine across all of the comparator countries. In 2014, Google was the most popular search engine across all comparator countries except Japan. As Yahoo! Search’s active reach in Japan declined substantially year-on-year to August 2015, Google became the most popular search engine.

The UK has the highest proportion of mobile phone users who access social networks on that device almost every day (43%), along with the US (42%). Japan has the lowest number of respondents to access social networks on a mobile phone almost every day, at 9%.

Ofcom - weekly access to social networks

Italy and Spain have the highest proportions of people accessing social networking sites weekly.

The majority of internet users accessed social networks on a weekly basis in almost all of our comparator countries. The most active social networkers were in Italy and Spain, where three-quarters of internet users accessed social networks at least once a week.

In the majority of the comparator countries, the proportion of weekly social networkers increased from October 2014 to September-October 2015. Year on year, the proportion of weekly social networkers in Germany has been broadly stable since 2013 (54%). In the UK, nearly two-thirds of people claimed to access social networking sites weekly (65%).

Facebook is by far the most popular social network in all of our comparator countries, apart from Japan, where it has a more modest lead.

On laptops and desktops, Facebook was the most popular social network – by a significant margin – in seven of the eight comparator countries shown in Figure 6.33. Of these countries, Facebook was most popular in France, where 77% of respondents accessed it at least once in August 2015 on a laptop or desktop computer. Italy (76%), Spain (71%) and the UK (70%) were among the countries where the active reach of Facebook in August 2015 was at least 70%.

Japan was the only country where the difference in active reach between Facebook and its competitors was more modest; 34% compared to 24% for Twitter. Since August 2014, Facebook’s active reach in Japan has increased by 9%, while Twitter’s has fallen by 6%137. The active reach of Facebook in August 2015 was significantly lower in Japan (34%) than in the other comparator countries, where Facebook’s active reach ranged from 61% to 77%.