Social media usage in Western Europe - Statistics & Facts
Consumers and businesses use social media all around the world as a means of communication and sharing information, with Northern and Western Europe having the highest rates of social media adoption. Users in Europe are spending increasingly more time on social media as markets have grown reliant on online networks. European audiences have clear favorites when it comes to social media platforms, yet usage reasons and loyalty towards these platforms varies from country to country.
What do Europeans do on social media?
There are numerous purposes for using social media, and these purposes vary by demographics such as nationality and age group. In 2023, sending private messages on social media was the most common activity for people in Germany and France. More than half of all social media users in the United Kingdom stated that "liking" other users' posts was their most frequent social media activity. Other regular activities performed on social media included commenting on posts, following people, and posting pictures and videos. As of the third quarter of 2022, reading news items was the main reason for using social media for the majority of users in Italy, followed by filling spare time, and keeping in touch with family and friends.
The utilization of social media as a resource for discovering new information and content is also increasing. In 2022, almost a third of all Millennials and Gen Z users in Europe said that they used online social networks to find new recipes, whilst 56 percent stated they cooked meals that were trending on social media.
Meta Platforms takes the lead
Comparable to global trends, certain social media sites perform better than others in Western Europe. The most popular platform on the continent is Facebook, which had over 449 million users in the region as of 2023. Meta’s Instagram followed with an audience of around 294 million. Most social media platforms, including TikTok, Reddit, and Snapchat, are expected to see a growth in user numbers in the years ahead, albeit at a slower rate than they have experienced in the past.
Even though Facebook is the leading platform in Europe in terms of audience size, user numbers have plateaued. In the final quarter of 2021, the social network reached 427 million users in Europe, falling to 407 in the first quarter of 2022. Its audience size has remained around this number since – a clear return to pre-pandemic numbers. Nevertheless, 96 percent of social media users in the UK said they were aware of Facebook, and 64 percent of users said they were loyal to the platform. In Germany, a similar result was achieved in terms of awareness, but platform loyalty was lower, as was Facebook's overall popularity.
There are currently around 294 million Instagram users in Europe, making it the second most popular platform. By 2027, it is likely there will be 321 million users of Instagram in Europe, a small but steady increase. Using the UK and Germany as examples of how Instagram is received in Europe, awareness of the platform is high, but buzz surrounding the platform is considerably lower than Facebook’s.
Social media marketing in Europe
The European market has experienced significant increases in investment in social media advertising in recent years. In 2022, around 11 billion euros were spent on social advertisements across the continent. Overall, the United Kingdom saw social media ad spending of 12.16 billion U.S. dollars, followed by Germany and France, with almost 4.5 and 3.3 billion U.S. dollars, respectively.
As well as more reliance of social media as an advertising platform, online trends change frequently, and businesses must adapt their online ads to keep up. Video-based adverts fast became a popular option, and in 2022, attracted an investment of 10.8 billion euros in Europe, up from 9.3 billion USD in 2021.
This text provides general information. Statista assumes no
liability for the information given being complete or correct.
Due to varying update cycles, statistics can display more up-to-date
data than referenced in the text.
Stacy Jo Dixon
Research expert covering social media usage worldwide