EVER CHANGING: Everything the public sector needs to know about the Ofcom communications market report of 2020

Was it not the Bard of Frodsham himself Gary Barlow who wrote the enlightened observation ‘everything changes but you?’

Change is the theme that runs between the lines of Ofcom’s Communications Market Report for 2020.

A long goodbye, Twitter.

Hello WhatsApp.

Hey now, TikTok.

What’s that you’re doing NextDoor?

But it would be a mistake to say the world has shifted. The word ‘shifted’ gives the illusion of permanence when the truth is that the world is ever shifting. We all know this deep down but the fear is that we don’t have the evidence.

With Ofcom’s data we have the hard evidence. So you don’t have to, I’ve read Media Nations, Online Nations and Connected Nations that form the backbone of the Communications Market report for 2020.

I’ve boiled it down into 15 soundbites back-up by data.

No, the internet still isn’t evenly distributed

A hard-to-shift 13 per cent refuse to use the internet a figure that hasn’t changed for three years.

While 97 per cent of the UK’s properties are covered by 4G only 67 per cent of its geography is. In Scotland and Wales that’s especially patchy.

But those that do use the internet do so extensively. We’re now at three hours 29 minutes use a day on average.

When people do use the internet they connect in a big way

You may know that 18 to 24-year-olds were going to be leading the way online. They’re connected just over five hours daily. But 25 to 34-year-olds and 35 to 44-year-olds both spend more than four hours and even 45 to 54-year-olds are on for three and three quarter hours daily.

More surprisingly, connected over 55-year-olds are no slouches online spending just short of three hours a day online.

Yes, we’re social

For over 18s 72 per cent use social media with 70 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds having an account.

Goodbye, Twitter. You were fun

We need to talk about Twitter. I’ve loved the platform and got so much out of it and there’s still a community of PR people on it. Journalists are also all over it which in itself is a reason to maintain a corporate account but outside of that the platform has been fading for some time and the data again confirms this.

It’s unlikely to vanish overnight but any communicator needs to know that they’re unlikely to be speaking directly to big numbers of their residents by using it. Journalists and other PR people? Absolutely.

UK social media users 2020

Facebook 43.9 million

YouTube 43.4 million

Messenger 43.4 million

WhatsApp 30.2 million

Instagram 28.2 million

Twitter 25.1 million

Zoom 13.0 million

TikTok 12.9 million

NextDoor 4.0 million

HouseParty 4.0 million

Source: comscore / TikTik / Ofcom, 2020

Yes, there’s one account UK people can’t do without its Facebook if you’re old and Snapchat if you’re young

What’s the one account people won’t do without?

For over 16s it is Facebook.

For under 16s its Snapchat.

No, radio hasn’t gone away

Since The Buggles sank ‘Video Killed the Radio Star in 1979 there’s a feeling radio has been the poor relation. But RAJAR figures quoted in the report shows that 89.8 per cent of adults are reached weekly. That’s a pretty flat but impressive figure.

No, wearable tech hasn’t taken over

Clothes and jewellery with access to the internet has dropped five per cent to 18 per cent of adultsusing them in the past 12-months.

Yes, we’re watching more video and less telly

There’s no question the pandemic led to more time in front of screens watching things but how we do it continues to change.

We now spend on average three hours three minutes watching TV programmes. That’s about 10 minutes less than last year.

Where under 15s are watching video online

For eight to 15-year-olds, 89 per cent of them watch YouTube every week then TikTok (48 per cent), Instagram (40 per cent) Snapchat (41 per cent) Facebook (29 per cent) with YouTube Kids 25 per cent and Twitter on 16 per cent.

Where 16 to 24-year-olds are watching video online

Being told that this demographic are watching video is no great shock.

Overall, 90 per cent of this age group use video.

Whats extra surprising is the amount of time they spend.

A cracking 65 minutes a day is spent on YouTube by 16 to 24-year-olds watching video. That beats Snapchat by a third.

Perhaps also surprising is the 18-minutes spent by Facebook users in the demographic watching video.

A slight note of caution. The data dates from the end of 2019 but strong trends shows this group are hungry for video content.

Where adults watch video online

It’s not just kids.

The headline figures are that 90 per cent of over 18s use video sharing sites on average they spend 29 minutes a day with 40 per cent uploading content.

For younger people, it’s wall-to-wall with 98 per cent of eight to 15-year-olds using video sharing sites and spending 65 minutes a day on them.

The same number of adults as children watch YouTube weekly – that’s 89 per cent. Then Instagram came second on 36 per cent, Twitter 30 per cent and Facebook 29 per cent.

What’s also surprising is the demographics of video watchers. Starting at a peak of 90 per cent of 16 to 24s the 25 to 34-year-olds are close behind with 88 per cent.

People aged 35 to 44 are 80 per cent while 75 per cent of 45 to 54-year-olds and 63 per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds are online watching.

Older people are also watching with 53 per cent of 65 to 74-year-olds and a quarter of over 75s also watching video online.

Yes, we’re interested in news more than gov.uk sites

We use news sites and unique users of the UK-based sites:

The Sun 75.4 million

The Mirror 58.5 million

The Guardian 53.1 million

BBC 52.9 million

Daily Mail 52.4 million

Reach (combined) 41.5 million

Daily Express 27 million

Microsoft News 17.1 million

News sites attracts more visitors even in a pandemic than Government websites.

Health 32.6 million

Government websites 30.7 million

Education websites 27.7 million

What does that tell us? It tells us: ‘hello, media relations. Where’ve you been?’ and it tells us that the strategy of sidestepping the media entirely is flawed.

Yes, younger people visit news sites they just do it far less

The idea that news sites alone are the answer isn’t the case. We can’t wind thwe clock back to a time when news was the only show in town.

Minutes spent on news sites per day:

Aged 18 to 24 12.9 minutes

Aged 25 to 34 15.4 minutes

Aged 35 to 44 22.4 minutes

Aged 44 to 55 25.5 minutes

Aged 55+ 25.9 minutes

Yes, WhatsApp is absolutely a thing

We’ve seen from the data that more than 30 million people use WhatsApp in the UK.

Of them, 40 per cent use it on a daily basis and 71 per cent of the population have used it in the last 12-months.

Almost a quarter of aduklts say that WhatsApp is their favourite platform.

The public sector are lagging behind political campaigns and others for a pro-active use of it but this will change.

Yes, NextDoor is a thing

The figures say that 4 million people use NextDoor which is a hyperlocal site for nextdoor neighbours to connect on a street-by-street level.

But don’t expect to find everyone.

Fifty per cent of users are over 50 with just 0.8 per cent aged 18 to 24.

Yes, we think the internet is a force for good but we’ve had bad experiences

For over 18s, 66 per cent believe it is a positive thing with 86 per cent having a negative experience.

For 12 to 15-year-olds 57 per cent think its positive with 89 per cent.

Picture credit: Flickr / Documerica.

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