A new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers has highlighted the importance of social media to the growth of the fast-growing digital economy.
The report has found that the number of companies with social media platforms increased by nearly half a million in 2016.
The growth in this area is driven by a rise in new users and an increase in engagement from businesses.
“The growth of social networking has been so significant, in fact, that it is now the third-largest growth driver of digital companies globally,” said Ravi Jain, partner in PricewaterhousesCoopers digital growth group.
“As these platforms continue to grow, so does the need for new platforms and platforms will evolve to become more inclusive and allow businesses to reach more consumers,” he said.
“These platforms will also need to develop their advertising platforms to support the growth in social media and to build new revenue streams.”
PwC says there are over 2.3 billion users of social networks across more than 150 countries.
It also noted that the average number of Facebook likes and shares on the platform has increased by over 50 per cent in the past year.
The top three growth drivers of digital growth include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
There is also a big shift in the role of mobile apps as they are growing more quickly than traditional websites.
PwP says the trend towards mobile apps is one of the biggest drivers of growth of digital businesses, with more than half of the total growth coming from mobile apps.
The study found that of the top 10 digital businesses worldwide, Facebook accounts for more than 40 per cent of total growth.
It said that more than a quarter of the digital growth was driven by mobile apps, including mobile messaging, video and advertising.
Facebook has been on a growth spree recently, overtaking Google as the number one search engine in the world.
“We are seeing the impact of mobile on the overall growth of many digital businesses,” said Mr Jain.
“While there is still a lot of room for growth, we believe there is a big opportunity for businesses that want to grow their businesses from mobile to other platforms such as desktop.”
There are also several changes to the way businesses are being able to reach consumers.
“Businesses are now getting more data about their customers and they are sharing that with marketers, content creators and brands,” he added.
“This is a very important opportunity for brands to reach a wider audience and more importantly, it’s a chance for businesses to leverage the power of social to reach new customers.”