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Analyzing Instagram user growth and usage patterns in 2020

1. Instagram Will Pass Facebook Among Young Adults

Time spent on Facebook is projected to reach an all time low of 33 minutes per day among US adult users in 2020, which would have been worrisome for Mark Zuckerberg had he not made the crucial decision to acquire Instagram back in 2012. This was mutually beneficial to Instagram, which could leverage Facebook’s experience and more diverse audience, as well as Facebook, which could adopt Instagram as a unique entity to retain its loyal followers.

It was clear early on that Instagram would be a hit amongst younger users, and this trend materialized as 85% of teens shared that Instagram was their preferred social network in 2019. Time spent on Instagram is expected to surpass Facebook amongst 18 to 24 year olds as well in 2020. While Instagram has been more slowly adopted by older internet users, 23% of the 50 to 64 year old demographic now say they’re using Instagram, up from 18% in 2016.

Some expected Instagram to face the same scrutiny as Facebook or lose relevance upon the emergence of new apps, but these challenges have not yet emerged, and Instagram’s outlook remains bright. While its success could mean competition for Facebook, most of these users conveniently migrated over to its younger, more trendy entity, which is good news for the overall brand. 

2. Despite the Growth of Instagram Stories, The Feed is Still The More Popular UI

While News Feed ads have been effective in the past, they have started to lose their novelty among some users, causing advertisers to pivot their strategies. When Instagram announced the release of full-screen, vertical Story ads, advertisers were eager to leverage this medium to encourage brand awareness, video views, conversions, app installs, and lead generation.

Stories have had a slower adoption rate on Facebook, but Story ads continue to be effective for organic Instagram advertising and as well as marketing via Instagram influencers. Since 66% of US creative and digital decision-makers planning to invest in Instagram Stories in 2020, and only 62% expect to channel their dollars into News Feed advertising, the effectiveness of Stories will be an important 2020 consideration.

It seems that neither Stories nor the News Feed are going anywhere, as both of these UI’s offer their own respective benefits. In fact, we may see them used in tandem, as the News Feed can serve as a jumping off point to market other elements of the app.

3. Video Advertisers Will Funnel More Dollars Into Social

U.S. social network ad spending growth will continue in 2020 as marketers remain seemingly unphased by data privacy and antitrust investigations surrounding Facebook. However, as other activities such as digital video viewing take a larger share of consumers’ time and attention, we may start to see a slowdown in social network usage.

Due in part to the adoption of subscription over-the-top (OTT) services and the growth of video viewing on mobile and connected devices, US adults will spend nearly twice as much time watching video on a computer, mobile device, or connected device in 2020 as they will on social networks.

It will be essential that marketers keep close tabs on where and how their audiences are spending their time, and the ascent of digital video outside of social networks should be factored into their ad-buying decisions.

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