Note: We have now published an updated version of this article, which you can find here: UK Social Media Statistics for 2013

As we come into a new year and many businesses are reviewing their marketing and planning a strategy for 2012,  it’s a good time to review the available data for the UK around the takeup and usage of social media.

The UK social media scene at the end of 2011

Using the most up to date information we could find for users, demographics and growth patterns on the key social networks*, here’s our pick of the most significant statistics.

UK Facebook statistics

Facebook now gives a reach of just over 30 million unique users for the UK – you can watch this grow for yourself by using the “reach” feature in the Facebook Ads setup process. That means the proportion of the UK total population registered with the site is fast approaching 50%.

The demographic breakdown is even more interesting, though. 25-34 year olds are now the largest age group on Facebook as we enter 2012, with under 17s making up just 5% of the user base. It seems likely that this figure is pretty accurate; even allowing for some under 13s lying about their age in order to register an account (in theory all users have to be over 13), it seems unlikely they’d exaggerate to more than 17 years, so therefore highly probable that 95% of the user base are adults.

What’s even more significant from a marketing point of view is that a whopping 42% of users claim to be in the £30k-£49,999 income bracket – and the second most highly represented bracket is £50k plus, at 22%!

Based on that alone, we’re suprised that more luxury and / or high value brands aren’t more strongly represented on Facebook, and wonder if that might become a trend for 2012.

UK Twitter statistics

Twitter has shown explosive growth this year, with the number of reported users more than doubling from 12 million to 26 million.

The high profile of Twitter in the media, particularly around the superinjunction / Ryan Giggs story, and the inclusion of hashtags in the opening credits of popular TV shows like Have I got News for you (#HIGNFY) and Question Time (#bbcqt) is likely to be a strong driver behind this.  Twitter’s age profile is again dominated by the 25-44 age group, accounting for over 60% of users.

Best of the rest

Tumblr is another platform to watch, with major growth during 2011 and Neilson’s third quarter report putting it at #2 in the UK by page views. For marketers working with primarily visual material, Tumblr offers a great deal of visibility.

LinkedIn also continues to grow, and now looks to reach around 10% of the UK population. Its users have some way to go to be as dedicated as Facebook’s though, with an average visit lasting less than half the time spent on Facebook.

Google+ made its debut to great excitement in 2011, and although the functionality of the site offered little new and failed to live up to the pre-launch hype, user growth has been strong.

This seems to be down to a combination of curiousity about the new offering, and traffic driven through Google’s other products – with 7 out of 10 visits coming by referral from another Google product (YouTube, Gmail, search etc). At the last count we could find via socialtimes , the UK total user base is still under one million – and globally, only 17% of those signing up become regular, active users. It remains to be seen whether Google will make up in coercion from its dominant stablemates what it lacks in functionality, to become an established player in 2012.

The losers, Bebo and MySpace continue their steady decline, while image-sharing site Flickr maintains its user base of around four million.

*For full details and additional stats, our data sources for this article were Xposure and Nielson.

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