In this third article in the series on social media marketing (SMM), we look at some of the basic data that relates to SMM and digital marketing (DM), the broader area of marketing in which SMM fits.

For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that you have been through the basic steps in planning your marketing strategy and that you are now focusing on the SMM tactics. You need to know the key underlying digital data, such as in the two charts included in this blog, i.e. internet adoption rate and users over time. The data and the charts used in this article have been extracted from the Digital 2022 Global Overview Report by DataReportal/We Are Social/Hootsuite on the global digital marketing landscape as at December 2021. You can obtain additional details from this report or from many other reports that are published by other organisations.

Internet adoption and users over time

The graphs here (and other charts not shown) indicate that, at end 2021:

  • The internet adoption rate (people who use the internet) worldwide was 62.5% of total population. In Southern Africa, it was 66% – so above the worldwide average.
  • Southern Africa has the highest internet adoption rate on the continent, followed by Northern Africa (63%) and Western Africa (42%). Eastern Africa and Central Africa are a long way behind, at 26% and 24%, respectively. This is important if you are considering marketing to other countries in Africa.
  • You can delve into internet adoption rates per country to learn, for example, that the rate in South Africa is 68.2%. Egypt is higher (71.9%), while Morocco is highest in Africa (84.1%). These are the only three countries in Africa that are above the worldwide average, but Ghana and Nigeria are closing in fast.
  • The adoption rate in Southern Africa (and throughout Africa) is low compared to the 98% seen in Northern Europe. But this needs to be considered along with the median age of the respective populations: 28.1 in South Africa versus 42.3 in Denmark. The worldwide average is 31.4 with the highest figure reported for Japan (49.2). The highest median age in Africa comes from Morocco (30.2), while Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya are all below that of South Africa.
  • The internet adoption rate around the world grew +4% year-on-year (YoY), but growth is slowing. However, it is still growing much faster than the world’s population, so penetration is still advancing quickly.



Social media statistics

Next, you will need to look at the key social media (SM) data. Below are two examples of basic charts, but there are many other graphs that you can consider as well.

The data as at end 2021 indicates that:

  • 4% of the world’s population were SM users, which is slightly behind the internet adoption rate. This is understandable as: the internet preceded SM; not all people who use the internet will use SM.
  • SM use is growing much faster than internet adoption, i.e. +10.1% YoY. This is a function of various matters, e.g. internet adoption rate and users over time; the number of people in the lower age groups; the higher SM user rates seen in younger age groups than in older age groups; the ongoing reduction in the cost of hardware, software and data; digital literacy.
  • Northern Africa has the highest SM user rate in Africa (56%), followed by Southern Africa (45%). (This is percentage of population.) The other three regions in Africa are a long way off these two. Again, this is important if you are considering SMM in Africa.
  • SM use in Southern Africa is a long way off the high of 85% seen in Northern Europe, but this may suggest where the rates worldwide will eventually grow to. So there is enormous room for growth, not only in Southern Africa, but also the rest of Africa and the world. But how fast or slow the growth will be in specific regions or countries is anyone’s guess.



The next question to consider regarding SMM might be: What channels should I consider? And then: Should I do paid or content marketing? In the next article in this series, we will look at this question, and at just a few of the biggest SM platforms.

Please note that I have dealt with these topics in a very brief, general way, as marketing, DM and SMM are massive fields on their own. It is not possible to provide details or specifics for any one person or organisation or to provide a comprehensive overview of these subjects in a few blog posts. If you are interested in looking at SMM in more detail, a good place to start would be to consult with a professional or to do some research, either online or by reading some textbooks on the subject.



Datareportal (2022) Digital 2022 Global Overview Report.  (Accessed 15 May 2022).


Photo credits: SEO by Elf-Moondance from Pixabay

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of PEG.

About Juliet Gillies

Juliet spent 20 years in the corporate and government environments as a professional writer and editor, before going freelance in 2006. She edits for government entities, authors, publishers, researchers, academics and scholars. She writes articles, textbook content, training manuals and poetry. She is also a voracious reader and lover of SMM statistics.

You can also find Juliet on LinkedIn.

About PEG

The Professional Editors’ Guild (PEG) is a non-profit company (NPC) in South Africa. Since moving to online activities in March 2020, PEG has been able to offer members across South Africa, and internationally, access to an extensive online webinar programme. Continuing professional development remains a key offering and the first PEG Accreditation Test was administered in August 2020 to benchmark excellence in the field of editing.