Social Media Usage Trends
Three trends around social media usage in the U.S. are that Instagram usage is increasing, Snapchat usage is decreasing, and the popularity of Stories is increasing.
Instagram Usage Is Increasing
- A trend around social media usage in the U.S. is that Instagram usage is increasing.
- This trend was noted by multiple sources, including Pew Research, Sprout Social, Hootsuite (platform for managing social media), and Statista.
- Data collected by Pew Research from 2012 through February 2019 clearly shows that Instagram usage in the U.S. has been steadily rising each year throughout that period.
- As of February 2019, 37% of adults in the U.S. were using Instagram. To illustrate the year-over-year rise in this trend, approximately 11% of adults in the U.S. used Instagram in 2012, approximately 17% did so in 2013, approximately 21% did so in 2014, approximately 25% did so in 2015, approximately 29% did so in 2016, approximately 31% did so in 2017, and in 2018 the total reached 35%.
- With regard to the previously mentioned statistics, we had to estimate all but the first and last percentages (since those were expressly stated) by looking at the graph published by Pew Research, as those other percentages were not expressly stated, yet were able to be estimated. Nonetheless, the graph clearly illustrates that the growth in Instagram usage has been consistent and noticeable each year in the U.S.
- The rise in Instagram usage is also expected to continue in the years ahead, as the number of Instagram users in the U.S. in expected to increase by 5.4% in 2020 compared to 2019. If that growth indeed occurs, it would equate to 112.5 million people using Instagram in the U.S. in 2020.
- In 2021, the number of Instagram users in the U.S. is projected to further increase to 117.2 million. As one source put it, Instagram's U.S. audience is "growing consistently."
- Likewise, Statista also projects that Instagram usage in the U.S. will continue to increase in the years ahead, yet projects an even more-substantial, increase that, by 2022, would total 131 million people using Instagram in the U.S.
- This trend of increasing Instagram usage even holds true among marketers in the U.S. as well. Per a survey conducted by eMarketer, the following are the percentages of marketers in the U.S. who used Instagram by year: 2016 (53.2%), 2017 (62.6%), 2018 (69.2%), 2019 (73.2%), and 2020 (projected at 75.3%).
- This trend is impacting social media usage in that more time is being spent on Instagram, to the detriment of Snapchat and Facebook.
Snapchat Usage is Decreasing
- A second trend around social media usage in the U.S. is that Snapchat usage is decreasing.
- This trend was noted by several sources, which included Pew Research and Statista.
- As Pew Research's data clearly shows, Snapchat usage in the U.S. declined by approximately 3% from 2018 to 2019. In 2018, approximately 27% of adults in the U.S. used Snapchat. In 2019, that percentage had declined to 24% of adults in the U.S. who were using Snapchat.
- An October 2019 report from Statista stated that "the popularity of Snapchat among its key user demographic is in decline and this also holds true for the general Snapchat audience in the United States."
- This trend of Snapchat usage decreasing in the U.S. is projected to continue in the years ahead. In 2018, the number of Snapchat users in the U.S. totaled 79.7 million. In 2023, that number is expected to be down to 78.1 million.
- This trend is impacting social media usage in that people are posting more on Instagram Stories and less on Snapchat, as both offer a video-sharing platform.
Stories Usage Is Increasing
- A third trend around social media usage in the U.S. is that the use of Stories, such as Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories, is increasing.
- This trend was noted by several sources, which included Sprout Social, Tech Jury, EmbedSocial, and Social Media Today.
- As was stated in an article, "Stories have become an increasingly popular social media format."
- An article published in December 2019 stated that a survey of marketers in the U.S. found that 93% of them "planned to post Instagram Stories more often in the future."
- The aforementioned survey also found that 96% of those marketers in the U.S. said they "plan to continue using Stories ads in the next 6 months."
- A social media expert explained one way that this trend is impacting social media usage, in stating the following: "Stories have a natural progression — a beginning, middle, and end. This logical series of events is satisfying for the viewer because it makes sense to them."
- This trend is also impacting social media usage by increasing the amount of time people spend on social media. A 2018 article stated that since the 2016 launch of Instagram Stories, "Instagram engagement . . . has ballooned to an average of 30 minutes per day."
- This trend is also impacting social media usage by increasing the level of urgency people feel to frequently check Stories before those Stories disappear from the feed.
We identified three trends around social media usage in the U.S. by looking for articles about that very topic. A few of the many sources we consulted during our research were Sprout Social, Pew Research, and Statista. We ensured that each trend is indeed a trend by finding each expressly described as such by at least two, reputable sources and the trends we found were actually described as such by multiple sources. In addition to finding each trend described as a trend by the sources, we also provided data in support of each trend. Lastly, our research findings are specific to the U.S.