Does Your Business Need to be On Every App?

By MeDM Staff

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What the latest data says about internet users, their preferences, and their behaviours

The digital age can feel overwhelming – especially if you’re playing a game of catchup when it comes to social media, e-commerce, and your business.

From the plethora of new tech and apps being introduced daily, to the unfortunately large amount of click-bait articles spreading misinformation, it can be hard to know where to spend your time and money.

In this article, we’ll walk you through what the latest data says about users and how to best prioritize your resources.


A more connected yet lonely and divided world

With total global internet users sitting at 5.16 billion, there can be little doubt that we are living in a hyper-connected time. The endless churn of news, entertainment, and information is woven into the fabric of our daily lives.

According to Digital 2023: Global Overview Report, we now spend roughly 30 percent of our waking lives using our phones.

What’s really fascinating is that despite this rampant interconnectedness, studies show us that we are increasingly creating a society where our youth are more lonely and where we are certainly more divided when it comes to political discourse.

Despite this type of data, no one is pushing the brakes when it comes to media consumption, social media use or, most importantly for businesses, e-commerce spending.

Summary: Despite the ramifications of being so connected, over half the world is online today. All businesses need to have a sound digital strategy based on data that helps them make strategic decisions that advance their business goals.


Global spending habits and digital ad revenues

The pandemic, of course, was the great catalyst for doing everything online, but as we navigate a post-lockdown world, it remains to see what online habits stick with us and which ones will be abandoned.

While global spending was down in 2022 both online and offline, the share of online spending increased year over from 2021 to 2022. In 2022, 4.11 billion people purchased goods through online channels representing a 8.3% increase claiming a great share of total retail spend in 2022. What’s more, nearly 60% of this ecommerce spending was made through mobile phones. And it’s expected that e-commerce will continue to increase its share of overall shopping.

When it comes to your business, this growing trend should encourage you to start making e-commerce a priority. Ultimately, you want to maximize the utility of your social media channels to include in-app shopping and ensure your website is not only optimized for mobile, but set up for online shopping.

While this does mean redirecting dollars towards that, depending where you live, there may be grants or other types of programs that can help. In Canada, for example, the Grow Your Business Online microgrant gives eligible businesses up to $2,400 to cover costs related to adopting digital technologies.

Before spending great gobs of money to develop anything, however, make sure you collect the necessary customer data to help you make strategic decisions about how, when, and why your customers want to shop from you specifically.

Summary: Now is the right time to invest in some first-party data – data that you own – so you can better understand your customers and their spending habits. This will help direct your resources into the digital marketing areas that will give you the biggest Return on Investment (ROI).


Time spent online and shifting user behaviour

Data shows that global users are spending 20 minutes less on the internet per day – a 5% decrease year-over-year from 2021 to 2022.

However, this doesn’t mean that users care less about the internet; it is more indicative that users are being more choosy when it comes to their online activities. In other words, quality is more important to them than quantity.

While some say this to due to emerging from lockdown, GWI’s attributes it to a combination of media fatigue, subscription churn, the cost-of-living crisis as well as general time scarcity:

“There are only so many hours in the day, and people want to know their online time isn’t being wasted.”

Despite many articles sounding the alarm about the death of social media, Kepios data shows that “the global social media user total has increased by close to 30 percent since the start of the pandemic, equating to more than 1 billion new users over the past 3 years.”

On top of that, typical working-age internet users are spending more than 2.5 hours per day using social platforms alone.

As per Digital 2023, nearly 6 in 10 working-age internet users (57.8%) still refer to online resources when looking for information, ahead of:

    • Staying in touch with friends and family (53.7%);
    • Staying up to date with news and current events (50.9%); and
    • Watching videos (49.7%).

Summary: This data should encourage you to focus on creating content strategy that prioritizes quality content creation that increases engagement and interactions with your target audience.

The most popular social media apps and platforms

Despite a barrage of click-bait articles that proclaim the death of Facebook, the data from Digital 2023 tells a very different story with it placing within the top five favourite apps and platforms consistently (see below).

Most popular apps overall

Here are the most popular apps overall:

1. YouTube
2. Google
3. Google Chrome
4. Facebook
5. Whatsapp Messenger


Time spent on social apps

As for time spent on social apps, average time spent per month of global users in descending order is:

1. TikTok (23.5 hours/month)
2. YouTube (23.1 hours/month)
3. Facebook (19.7 hours/month)
4. Whatsapp Messenger (17.3 hours/month)
5. Instagram (12.0 hours/month)


Favourite social platforms

Here is the percentage breakdown of active social media users who claim a favourite social platform:

1. Whatsapp Messenger (15.8%)
2. Instagram (14.3%)
3. Facebook (14.2%)
4. WeChat (12.2%)
5. TikTok (6.1%)


Users have a wide portfolio of social platforms

Despite users having their go-to favourites, in general people still use a wide portfolio of social platforms in their daily lives.

According to Digital 2023, among worldwise users aged 16 to 64:

  • 82.5% of TikTok users still use Facebook every month;
  • 84.3% of Telegram users also use WhatsApp every month; and
  • 60.7% of Snapchat users also use Twitter each month.


Summary: While emerging apps like TikTok are gaining in popularity, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Whatsapp remain contenders by continually being ranked in the top five. That said, if users are on one app, they’re likely on others.

The key for your business is to understand where your target audience is online and develop a strategy to meet them there, rather than chasing trends.


What is the right social media strategy when it comes to marketing your business?

The data above reinforces that companies do not need to be on every platform or medium in order to reach their audience.

As per Digital 2023, “a presence on just one or two of the top platforms will deliver almost all of the reach you need.” In other words, no, you don’t need to be on every app and there are lots of great reasons why.

From a logistics standpoint, your business can’t afford to be on everything. Depending on your budget and/or staffing resources, it may make more sense to choose two that will cover most of your bases. As Digital 2023 points out, for example, being on YouTube and Facebook would arguably give you the broadest reach to the main demographics you need.

The great thing about a platform like Facebook, is that it is still ranked within the top five most popular apps. By taking popular social features found in other apps and optimizing them for Facebook (e.g. Reels or Stories), it remains the Swiss Army Knife of social, offering users lots of utility and a wide range of options.

As these new features are released, they allow you to present content in new and interesting ways to your audience. For example, you can literally use a Facebook Reel as a sizzle reel to promote your business or a special service offering, or use Facebook Stories to share an exclusive promo code for your customers.

While YouTube doesn’t have the broad range of features that Facebook offers, it remains the workhorse when it comes to video, allowing you to create videos of any genre or length and share and house them in one place for easy access and content curation.

Niche apps can unleash creativity while connecting you to new segments

If your goal is to attract more attention from a segment that is currently underserved by your company’s current social media mix or engage a current segment in a new and creative way, you may want to engage in a niche social platform to generate some buzz.

There may be no better example than Chipotle which is creating some fun and unique campaigns to engage with their key Gen Z demographic and build their social presence overall.

Last October, for example, Chipotle leveraged the anti-Instagram app BeReal as part of its Boorito promotions (yes, that’s a nod to Halloween). Customers who posted a BeReal photo of themselves in costume at a restaurant had a chance to win free burritos. This is a great example of meeting customers where they are – in this case, Gen Z on BeReal, on an up-and-coming platform.


“Mobile first, but not mobile only” when it comes to user experience

When it comes to devices used to access the internet, data shows that mobile devices and smartphones are used 92.3% and 91% of the time respectively. While the use of desktop computers is down, they’re still used 65.5% of the time.

Embracing a “mobile first, not mobile only” approach prioritizes mobile optimization which is essential for providing seamless experiences to on-the-go users without ignoring the many users that still access content on larger screens.

Based on this data, Digital 2023 recommends a well-rounded strategy will ensure that the user experience remains exceptional across all devices.

Summary: While being on two of the more popular social media apps may cover you in terms of broad reach, this may not deliver the ROI you want. It all depends on the social and platforms your target audience prefers and to understand this, you need data.

When it comes to developing a digital strategy, first-party data – data you own about your costumers – will allow you to be strategic when it comes to how you will spend your limited time and resources.

Last, but not least, if your current website doesn’t deliver a seamless mobile experience, you do need to invest in optimization. That said, don’t forget that over half your customers in Canada and the US still access content from a desktop or tablet.


With a 30% increase of social media users in the past 3 years, it’s critical that every business has a social media strategy that prioritizes e-commerce.

While being on two popular social apps (one for posting, one for video) may give you the broadest reach, this shotgun approach won’t necessarily deliver the target wins you need to increase your e-commerce sales.

Investing in first-party data to better understand customer behaviour and expectations of your brand is the best first step you can take to modernize your digital efforts as a business.

Doing so will not only allow you to be more strategic in your approach, it will allow you to address your most urgent needs first and then create a project plan and budget around them.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a solid social marketing or e-commerce strategy. Building a solid foundation based on data, rather than chasing trends, will help you successfully grow your business online.