UK social media users spend the most time on TikTok

UK social media users spend the most time on TikTok

TikTok is far and away the most-used social media app in terms of time spent on the platform among UK users.

According to the Digital 2024: United Kingdom report from social media-led agency We Are Social and media intelligence company Meltwater, the average time per month that active users spent using TikTok’s app on Android was 49 hours and 29 minutes.

That is more than double the time spent on YouTube (at 19 hours and 10 minutes) and triple the time spent on third-placed Facebook (16 hours and 45 minutes).

Android has a market share of around 48% in the UK, making the data reasonably representative of the UK population.

According to the study, people in the UK spend more time on TikTok than any other country in the world.

Despite the high degree of time spent on the app, the research found that TikTok is currently used by just 40% of the UK population. This pales in comparison to Meta-owned platforms, which have larger user bases. WhatsApp is used by 79% of Brits; Facebook by 73%; and Instagram by 60%.

X (formerly Twitter) is used by 44% and Snapchat by 31%.

TikTok, like some of its competitors, has shied away from referring to itself as a social media company, preferring to be called an “entertainment platform” as it ostensibly focuses less on providing ways to connect with friends and family and more on providing amusing short-form videos on a variety of algorithmically recommended subjects.

This week, the European Commission opened an investigation into TikTok over possible breaches of the EU’s Digital Services Act, which came into full effect this year. Among the reasons cited for the probe is concern over “the risk management of addictive design and harmful content”.

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Social media behind wider internet and TV

Overall, We Are Social’s study found that, of the 56.2m social media users in the UK (82.2% of the population), they spend an average of one hour and 49 minutes on social media each day (down 6.3% compared with last year).

This makes social media the third-largest media segment in terms of time spent, behind the internet more generally (six hours and two minutes per day) and broadcast or streaming TV (three hours and 54 minutes per day).

Apart from time spent on the internet, which increased 4.5% in the past year, all other media segments saw declines in time spent.

Additional findings from the report include a 21.4% increase in the number of people who play games on their smartphone (now 59.5% of UK individuals aged 16-64) and a 15.7% increase in annual spend on influencer marketing in the UK to £820m.

“It’s no surprise to see TikTok as the most-used app in the UK, but it’s also evolving — the time spent on this platform reflects a growing trend of social media as entertainment,” said We Are Social UK CEO Jim Coleman. “For marketers, it’s important to be on top of these continuous shifts in the way that people are spending time online and adapt their approach to the type of content they create.”

One core finding that may imply a need for adaptation is that just 8% of internet users aged 16-64 say they feel represented in advertising — a six percentage point decrease year on year.

“We also need to ensure we’re not complacent when it comes to representation in our work,” Coleman added. “Advertising should not only reflect the demographic of the people it’s looking to reach — the work should be culturally appropriate too.”

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