Social Media Usage in Germany 2021/2022

In this article, we give you an overview of social media behavior and how you can implement a successful social media strategy for your business.

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Table of contents
  1. Why you should strategically deal with social media
  2. How is social media used in Germany?
  3. The most popular social media platforms in Germany
  4. Social media marketing tools that can make your work easier
  5. Conclusion

Our guest author Anne-Marie shows you an overview of social media usage in Germany in this article. She also shows you the most relevant social media platforms that could be interesting for your company.

As a social media manager, you feel like you are wearing ten hats at once. Planning content, filming, photographing, designing, writing, uploading, interacting - all against trends that change by the hour and news in real time.

In order not to lose track of all of these tasks, it is important to think about a solid social media strategy – ideally data-driven. A functioning social media strategy depends on many factors: What goals do you want to achieve? Who is your target group? What measures do you want to carry out? What budget do you have available?

One of the most important questions related to social media is which platform is right for your message. Where do I post my content?

To help you answer this question, we will show you in this article what social media usage in Germany looked like in 2022 and which are currently the most popular social media channels. As a practical tip, I will give you two social media marketing tools in the end that can facilitate your work.

Why you should strategically deal with social media

Especially for companies, it is extremely important to identify which platforms the respective target groups use in which form. This allows the company's own marketing team to use its resources efficiently and target-oriented. Because, let's be honest, which average company can afford a social media manager per platform? Exactly, very few.

Once you have set precise marketing goals, you should define target groups for your digital marketing measures. If you have completed these steps, you need to ask yourself the following questions for your social media activities:

  • Where is your target audience located?
  • Which content suits your target group?
  • And finally, the right approach for your target group?

An analysis of social media usage can significantly help you answer these questions. Because although identifying suitable social networks for the target group is a very individual matter, certain general key figures can help us with this task.

How is social media used in Germany?

Research institutions and companies regularly publish studies on social media usage in Germany (both globally and nationally), which you can use as a guide for your research. We mainly consider the different social media platforms and their usage based on the ARD/ZDF online study 2021 and the Digital News Report 2022 from Hootsuite and We are Social for this article.

The ARD/ZDF online study was collected in March and April 2021, that is during the second Corona lockdown, and the digital news report was published in February 2022. The data should definitely be considered with this background. Lockdowns and other corona measures (home office, short-time work, restrictions on leisure activities) have significantly influenced the use of the Internet in general and especially the use of social media.

The publication charts of the ARD/ZDF online study and the entire report of the ARD/ZDF online study provide you with very detailed user numbers and explanations.

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Illustration 1: ARD/ZDF online study, Infographic Online Study 2021

Who uses social media?

One number quickly catches the eye in the infographic of the ARD/ZDF online study: 94 percent of the German-speaking population aged 14 and over were online in 2021. This number alone shows the enormous potential of online and specifically social media marketing. So if there is still any small business owner asking you why your company should be active on social media, simply present this infographic to them.

Social media usage is becoming more relevant in Germany. 47 percent use social media at least once a week and 59 percent of all respondents access social networks at least less frequently than weekly.

It can be clearly seen that the age group of 14- to 29-year-olds dominates the social media sector. 66 percent of 14-29-year-olds use social media daily, clearly setting them apart as the leading group.

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Figure 2: ARD/ZDF online study, Table 15 “Social media usage 2021”

What is social media used for?

According to the ARD/ZDF study, video use in Germany in social media has decreased by 4 percent compared to the previous year in the top grouping, but still stands at 50 percent (Fig. 1). We continue to see a clear push towards video content from the major platforms. This format remains extremely relevant. This is made visible by, for example, Instagram recognizing the successful concept of the video platform TikTok with the Reels function and implementing it on its platform. Even channels with exclusively live streaming offers, like Twitch, continue to gain interest from the users.

The native forms of interaction - liking, sharing, posting, and looking at the timeline - are used most in almost all categories. The more in-depth engagement with postings, such as reading articles, is mostly found in the age groups over 30 years.

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Figure 3: Hootsuite & We are social, “Digital 2022 Report”, Slide 53

The reasons for social media usage in Germany are broken down in more detail in the Digital 2022 Report by Hootsuite & We are social. Users between the ages of 16 and 64 state as the main reason that they want to keep in contact with family and friends (45.3 %), followed by reading news (36.5 %) and mere pastime (30.7 %).

A significant part of the respondents stated that they were searching for buying options (23.8 %) or a specific product (17.1 %).

The motivations for using social media are diverse - exactly what makes the platforms so attractive for marketing measures. For example, about 12.8 percent say that they inform themselves about celebrities via social media - a welcome interface in marketing for product placements.

What do the user numbers mean for your strategy?

The studies and reports on user numbers are much more extensive than we could discuss here. Much more important for you is knowing how you can derive insights for the social media strategy in your company from these numbers.

Take another close look at your own goals and target groups. Now try to enrich your strategy with information from the reports. Which age group is closest to your target groups? Where is this age group mainly located? Do they prefer to watch a video or read an article? What about audio formats, is there increased interest in this area from your target group?

For example, one insight from these user numbers could be that a target group of 30- to 49-year-old people would be more likely to read an article than a younger target group. If your target group consists of this age group, you could check your content planning for the editorial plan based on this format in the next step. If you do not have any articles or other text formats in your content planning yet, you could plan this format in the future.

Now that you know who you want to address and what your target group is interested in, you now need to find out on which platforms your target groups are located. So let's take a closer look at the individual social networks in the next step.

 

Daily usage is one of the most important parameters when it comes to the popularity of a platform. If a user uses an offer daily and intensively, there is a strong identification with the content of the platform, its personalities and mechanisms.

Instagram is clearly ahead in the ranking of daily usage. This lead is even more pronounced in the youngest age group, confirming Instagram as the most used social network (55%), followed by Snapchat in second place (28%) and TikTok (19%) in third place, even ahead of Facebook (17%).

7 percent of 14- to 29-year-olds use Twitch, the live streaming portal known primarily for gaming content, daily. The business networks Xing and LinkedIn as well as Pinterest, an online pin board that was polled for the first time this year, are below 5 percent.

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Figure 4: ARD/ZDF online study, Table 16 “Usage of social media offers 2018 to 2021 - used daily”

1. Instagram

Instagram was seen to be overtaking Facebook in 2020. This year Instagram was able to increase its lead in the daily usage overall score from 1 to 3 percent. Every second person aged 14 to 29 uses Instagram daily – no other age group uses a social network as frequently.

Although Instagram doesn't compete with Facebook in the age groups over 30 years, 16 percent among the 30- to 49-year-olds (daily usage) is nevertheless a remarkable number. Especially when considering that the four third-placed platforms are only used daily by 2 percent of the respondents.

At its core, Instagram is a platform for sharing with friends, family and acquaintances – what Facebook used to be. The app has managed time and again over the past few years to stay on the ball with new features and not lose the community.

To put it kindly (don’t sue me please): Instagram has for years been reacting quite quickly to trends on other platforms and apps. This way, the app always manages to stay in the conversation and not fall behind. Instagram took over the story function and the AR filters from Snapchat. When TikTok's resounding success became increasingly clear, Instagram followed suit with its own video function and introduced the reels.

The many possibilities of interaction and functions can pose a challenge for companies and their social media teams, as they constantly have to adjust to new formats. On the other hand, new formats often mean that reach can be generated quickly. Instagram initially (and currently still) heavily pushed the reels. So whoever is “brave” enough to try a trend early on is often rewarded with reach.

2. Facebook

Facebook is still ahead of Instagram among users over 30 years of age and among people who are on social media weekly or less frequently. Compared to 2020, Facebook even gained slightly in these groups. But the not to be underestimated factor remains that Facebook had to give up its supremacy in daily usage.

In the group of 14- to 29-year-olds Facebook's daily usage dropped by 7 percent. However, the platform remains relevant and is ahead in the lower usage frequencies. The advantage of Facebook is the large user base, which continues to make the social network attractive to the broad masses. The likelihood that someone from the circle of acquaintances has a Facebook account is much higher than, for example, with TikTok.

3. Snapchat

In third place in social media usage is Snapchat, with a solid 16 percent less than second-place Instagram, underscoring the strength of the two top-ranked platforms.

Snapchat is an interesting special case in the statistic (Fig. 4): No other platform has performed so poorly in the age group over 30 years. The app seems to be aimed exclusively at a young to very young target audience. So almost every third person between 14 and 29 years of age uses Snapchat. In the overall evaluation, however, the app slips to just 6 percent total usage.

This example clearly shows how important it is to look at further breakdowns of individual networks. If marketers were only to look at the total numbers, Snapchat might be ruled out. If, however, your product is exclusively target at teenagers, Snapchat would be the ideal social network for you.

4. TikTok

The big jump made by TikTok is also interesting. In the ARD/ZDF online study 2020 TikTok still stood at 3 percent and has worked its way up to 9 percent in a very short time. The pure video platform is very popular especially among the Gen Z age group. Compared to 2020, TikTok doubles the number of people in the under 30 age group who use the app daily and adds 12 percentage points. Such a rapid growth in such a short span of time is remarkable.

TikTok has also made a big leap in the daily usage of all age groups and is now at 5 percent. Looking at the breakdown by age groups, it quickly becomes clear that there is an extremely strong concentration on the 14- to 29-year-olds. A TikTok campaign for an age group 50+ would therefore likely fall flat.

In addition to this, TikTok plays a major role in another factor we have not discussed so far: time.

The Digital News Report shows that TikTok is far ahead of the competition in terms of average usage time (in hours) per month. Instagram is used an average of 8.5 hours per month, while Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp reach between 11 and 11.4 hours per month. TikTok waves cheerfully from the rear-view mirror with 23.6 hours per month.

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Illustration 3: Hootsuite & We are social, “Digital 2022 Report”, Slide 56

Social media marketing tools that can make your work easier

There are already a host of tools to help you plan and implement social media content. Let us now take a brief look at them, highlight their pros and cons and give you some tips.

At OMR Reviews, you can read Social Media Marketing Tools reviews from users to help you find the right tool. Of course, you can also rate tools yourself and help others in their search.

Canva as a graphic tool for your social media posts

Whatever you're currently doing: If you don't Canva Pro use Canva yet, drop everything and get this tool! It's no longer a secret tip, but Canva as a design tool is simply unbeatable. The Pro subscription is worthwhile for every marketing team and is also feasible with a small budget.

The two biggest advantages of Canva are on the one hand the many templates in all possible categories and on the other hand the super easy handling. In the pro version there are even more templates, graphics, photos, videos, templates, etc., but also the content of the free version is worth seeing. Recently Canva has even included content planning with the content planner.

Canva statworx CI

With Canva, you quickly realize that people who are familiar with the design problems from the marketing industry have been working on this tool. For example, you can create a custom color palette for your CD and don't need to memorize color codes or continuously copy the information from other files. Canva also offers the option of uploading your own images. This way, you don’t have to upload individual photos every time and you have everything in one tool.

One of my absolute favorite features is “resize”. You have created a flyer for an event and would like to use the design for LinkedIn or an Insta story? In Canva, it's super easy. You can simply copy the design into a different size and customize it. All design elements are transferred and Canva creates a new work file for you.

One of the newest features from Canva is the creation of videos. In Canva, in addition to all the advantages mentioned, you also have the option of using music, small animated graphics, stock videos and much more directly in Canva and editing them. A dream come true!

Later as a planning tool for your social media posts

Later was my first planning tool for social media in my job. I chose Later at the time because I was mainly looking for a tool for Instagram and the services of the starter subscription absolutely met my needs. We later switched from Later to Hootsuite because at that time it was not yet possible to post directly on LinkedIn with Later. Meanwhile, LinkedIn and even TikTok are connected with Later, but the focus is still strongly on Instagram.

Later is a very user-friendly tool, which can score especially in the area of visualization. Planned social media posts can be displayed as they would look in the Instagram profile itself. This way, you can, for example, recognize in advance whether planned postings harmonize well with each other or not. Even grid postings, i.e. individual images that form an overall picture over several posts, can be prepared optimally this way.

Like other planning tools (e.g. Hootsuite), Later also offers a “Link in Bio” service (linkin.bio), which can make it easier for users to find linked content. Since it is not possible to provide feed postings with clickable links, linkin.bio is a useful addition to facilitate the access to further content for the users.

Depending on which package you subscribe to with Later, detailed analyses and reporting are also possible. Through the analyses, target groups can be refined and valuable insights into user data can be gained.

Recommended social media software

On our comparison platform OMR Reviews you can find more recommended social media software. We present over 100 solutions that are perfectly tailored to the needs of SMEs, start-ups and large corporations. Our platform supports you in all areas of social media management. Take the opportunity to compare different software and consult real user reviews to find the ideal solution for your requirements:

Conclusion

This article can assist you in setting up your marketing strategy data-based with the help of studies on social media usage in Germany.

One of the most important insights from the user numbers of the past years for me was the displacement of Facebook as market leader in the daily usage of the target group of 14 to 29 year olds by Instagram. In contrast, it was surprising for me to see that Facebook continues to lead in all other areas - the dead seem to live longer.

The advance of TikTok, in my opinion, will be seen even more clearly in the next ARD/ZDF online study than it is in the 2021 study. An effect of this advance could be that Snapchat will lose relevance. This trend is already visible in the Digital Report 2021 to 2022.

Each platform has its own rules and its special community, which is sometimes very clearly reflected in such numbers. If you decide for a social network for your company, I would like to advise you in the end to get to know the platform well before you launch a channel there. The better you know the functions and the community, the better you can tailor your content. I wish you good luck and keep posting!

Anne-Marie Antwerpen
Author
Anne-Marie Antwerpen

Ich bin Social Media & Content Specialist bei der KI-Unternehmensberatung statworx in Frankfurt am Main. Als klassicher Millenial bin ich mit Social Media aufgewachsen, habe aber erst in meinem Job bei statworx meine berufliche Leidenschaft für diesen Bereich des Marketings entdeckt. Meine Lieblingsplattformen im beruflichen Kontext sind Instagram & LinkedIn, da ich dort jeweils ganz unterschiedliche Personenkreise mit unserem Content ansprechen kann. Privat bin ich komplett hooked auf TikTok und liebe die schnelllebige, bunte, kreative Community dort.

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