Facebook’s move last year to discourage passive consumption of content, especially videos, has impacted engagement. Average daily time spent on the platform by US adult users fell by 3 minutes in 2018. And that time will remain unchanged this year, per the latest eMarketer forecast on US time spent with media. In fact, we have reduced our forecast for Facebook compared with the previous figures released in Q3 2018.
This year, US adult Facebook users will spend an average of 38 minutes per day on the platform (on all devices), down 2 minutes from our previous forecast. In 2020, average daily time will drop to 37 minutes.
“Facebook’s continued loss of younger adult users, along with its focus on downranking clickbait posts and videos in favor of those that create ‘time well spent,’ resulted in less daily time spent on the platform in 2018 than we had previously expected,” eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said. “Less time spent on Facebook translates into fewer chances for marketers to reach the network’s users.”
Engagement on Snapchat, meanwhile, has essentially plateaued. Instead of growing, as we had earlier projected, time spent among users fell slightly last year because of lingering fallout from the app’s failed redesign and competition from Instagram. We now expect time spent among Snapchat’s adult users to remain at 26 minutes per day through 2021. Our previous forecast projected 28 minutes per day in 2019.
The picture is somewhat brighter at Instagram, where user time spent is still growing. Average daily time on the Facebook-owned platform will reach 27 minutes this year among US adult users. And time spent will increase by 1 minute every year through 2021. Our Instagram forecast remains unchanged from our Q3 2018 forecast.
“Features like Stories, influencer content and video are all contributing to more engagement and a slow but steady uptick in time spent on Instagram,” Williamson said.