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[NEW REPORT] The Evolution Of Social Apps

Social media accounts for 44% of all time spent on mobile

According to the latest App Annie report, people are spending more and more time on social media apps – a trend that shows no sign of slowing down.

Users spent 740 billion hours on social apps in the first six months of 2021 (H1 2021), a 30% rise on H1 2018.

44% of all time spent on mobile is now spent on social media apps, highlighting how crucial a well planned and executed social strategy is for any modern business.

The data does show a slight dip year on year, but this could be based on the world adjusting to life after the COVID-19 pandemic as many countries have started to ease restrictions and fewer people are stuck inside with only their phones for company.

Asian audiences dominate

Asia makes up the bulk of the time, over 50%, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise given the volume of people in the region. Europe, South America, North America and the Middle East make up the rest:

  1. Asia 449,200,000,000
  2. Europe 87,900,000,000
  3. South America 84,000,000,000
  4. North America 64,400,000,000
  5. Middle East 43,700,000,000

Asian audiences also download more social apps than anyone else, while 60% of the global time spent in social apps comes from Asia-Pacific.

A new kid on the block 

Facebook used to dominate the download charts – Facebook or Facebook Messenger was the most downloaded app among social, communication, photo & video and entertainment in seven of the last nine years. However, TikTok now reigns supreme after climbing to the top in 2020.

Facebook's suite of platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger) still perform well. As per the latest results, Insta sits second in the download charts, followed by Facebook in second and WhatsApp in third. Telegram, Snapchat, Messenger, CapCut, MX Takatak and PicsArt Photo & Video Editor round out the top 10.

Go back to as early as 2019, and you'll see Messenger, Facebook and WhatsApp with a one, two, three clean sweep. TikTok was in fourth, which shows how far the short-form video kings have come in a short space of time.

The evolution of live streaming

Social media usage is changing, which is something brands, and marketers need to keep pace with. Live streaming and video are now more popular than ever before, with growth rates outstripping chat, photo and video apps by 10%.

App Annie, The Evolution of Social Media Apps: Live Streaming: The New Frontier for Social Media

"Total time spent in the top 5 social apps with an emphasis on live streaming is set to surpass half a trillion hours on Android phones alone, outside of China in 2021, a 3-year compound annual growth rate of 25% compared to 15% for chat and photo & video apps."

Another example of pandemic behaviour?

The resurgence of live streaming could be put down as another pandemic-induced behavioural change, as it was the only way for many people to get face-to-face with their audience. Now it appears as if it's here to stay – the challenge for marketers will be to dream up ways brands can get involved without appearing to push their agenda too much.

App Annie, The Evolution of Social Media Apps: Live Streaming: The New Frontier for Social Media

"Beyond live streaming, creator-focused and video-first user experiences are the new must-haves for driving social engagement. Authentic experiences and creative innovation are at the top of consumers' lists."

The rise of social commerce has led to platforms pivoting towards live-stream shopping. Facebook and Instagram have dipped toes into these waters, while TikTok is also trying to cash on its dominance by hosting live-stream shopping collaborations with big-name players.

Big spenders

The big players are doing this because there's serious money to be made via social app shopping.

App Annie, The Evolution of Social Media Apps: Live Streaming: The New Frontier for Social Media

"We estimate consumers will spend $6.78 billion via social apps this year – rising to $17.2 billion annually by 2025, an impressive 5-Year CAGR of 29% — bringing the lifetime total spent through social apps to $78 billion."

The bulk of the spending will be done with creators, who give viewers the chance to 'gift' them money during each live stream. Asian audiences spend the most, followed by North America, the Middle East and then Europe.

It's forecast to rise exponentially, but broadly along with the same proportion as we see today. So if you're a brand and you're looking to get a slice of the live-stream pie, make sure your Asian operations are running full steam ahead.

App Annie, The Evolution of Social Media Apps: Live Streaming: The New Frontier for Social Media

"Social apps that offer live-streaming as a prominent feature account for $3 of every $4 spent in top 25 social apps in H1 2021."

There's been massive growth for spend within social apps, and that's only forecast to continue.

TikTok has had its battles with monetisation, but it's working incredibly hard to ensure it can ride that wave along with Facebook and its raft of platforms.

If you sell something, there's never been a better time to do it via social apps – so make sure it's at the top of your to-do list as we near the end of 2021 and enter a new year!

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