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Facebook Usage Dropping From 2017 High, While Instagram Peaks

eMarketer: Loss Of Younger Users & News Feed Updates To Blame

The latest data from analyst powerhouse eMarketer sees daily Facebook usage downgraded, as two years of perpetual negative PR and News Feed updates start to bite.

Daily Facebook usage in 2019 is expected to remain at 38 minutes per person per day, dropping to 37 minutes in 2020.

Overall, that will be an eventual 10% drop in daily usage from a 2017 high of 41 minutes.

eMarketer’s latest data is a downgrade from the figures it released during the third quarter of 2018. While this study draws on US behaviour, eMarketer data is commonly referenced by Wall St analysts as an indictive proxy for similarly developed western markets.

eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson:

“Facebook’s continued loss of younger adult users, along with its focus on downranking clickbait posts and videos in favour of those that create ‘time well spent,’ resulted in less daily time spent on the platform in 2018 than we had previously expected.”

In Facebook’s major 2018 algorithm update video content was dialled back in the News Feed, something which no doubt will have cost it, since eMarketer also claims, “Gains in digital video viewing are putting pressure on social time”.

Instagram’s Star Continues To Rise, As Facebook Plateaus

It’s not all doom and gloom for Mark Zuckerberg, however, as eMarketer’s data suggests an increase in daily Instagram usage.

eMarketer predicts Instagram users will spend an average 27-minutes per day on the app, up a minute from last year. This number will keep growing a minute per year through 2021.

That said, even with this growth, Instagram daily usage is still expected to lag Facebook by 25%.

Perhaps the main caveat in this data is that it only tracks user behaviour for those 18+.

Factoring in a younger demographic, sub 18, would likely see Instagram usage rising.

On this note, the study also claims stagnating Snapchat usage. However, Snapchat’s core user base is 13 – 24, so, therefore, half it’s userbase is not represented in this data.

Conversely, Facebook itself is somewhat unappealing to audiences sub 18, according to the Guardian.

Therefore, considering this, it could be interpreted that Facebook daily average usage may be marginally overstated, while Instagram and Snapchat perhaps slightly underattributed.  

Let’s Put Things In Perspective

Given the barrage of negative PR Facebook has generated recently (most rightly deserved), it is actually pretty impressive that usage has *only* dropped to the degree it has.

After all, one ‘curious’ appearance on Oprah cost Tom Cruise his film career…

Although, some consider Tropic Thunder his finest work.

While Facebook usage appears to be stagnating, it still dominates attention like no other.

It has the most users.

Spending the most time daily.

It also has the highest median ad click-through-rate of any social platform, at 1.33%.

In a nutshell, while users may be considering spending time elsewhere lolling with mates, marketers are a tad more hamstrung, for running campaigns at scale.

Will NEW Features Galore Stem The Tide?

At Facebook’s recent F8 Conference Mark Zuckerberg spelt out a new future for Facebook, ultimately built around its best and stickiest features.

As Facebook orientates away from the News Feed and leans into Groups, Messaging, Events, Co-watching, Shopping, Dating, Marketplace and beyond, there are reasons to be optimistic of a bounce in usage.

A material expansion of a platform’s value proposition and user experience can do wonders for user retention.

Look at boring ol’ LinkedIn, growing sessions 30% year on year simply by being fractionally less lame. Alternatively, look at Google now offering the ability to order food, directly from search results to improve search engine retention?

As markets for digital platforms mature, and become saturated, platforms need to offer something new to sustain eyeballs and attention.

If Facebook can successfully implement even half of what it pitched at F8 in the next 2-3 years, these figures needn’t worry Mark Zuckerberg too much.

 

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