2020 US SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE: The Coronavirus has Changed how we Engage with Social Media

It should be no surprise that when US consumers started spending more time at home during the pandemic, they also started surfing social media more. This not only dramatically increased usage, but it also provided a boost to engagement on these platforms. The coronavirus has pushed us into virtual worlds and increased the popularity of live streaming, video chat and gaming on social networks. 

A Harris Poll conducted between late March and early May, found that between 46% and 51% of US adults were using social media more since the outbreak began. In the most recent May 1–3 survey, 51% of total respondents — 60% of those ages 18 to 34, 64% of those ages 35 to 49, and 34% of those ages 65 and up – reported increased usage on certain social media platforms.

Platforms like Instagram and Snapchat will see a more sustained boost than Facebook from the coronavirus, as US adult Facebook time spend is up just 1 minute from our previous forecast, at 34.4 minutes per day. However, the pandemic has helped to flatten their significant 2017-2019 decline of time spend, and any growth at all for Facebook is considered positive. 

Social Media Usage
Have you checked your screen time on your mobile device lately? Personally, we’ve noticed our overall screen time is up 69% from pre-COVID-19 levels, and our social media usage alone has doubled.

“Yes – we’re consuming 2X as much social media as we were just a week ago. “

Harris Poll 2020

But, we’re not the only ones! Reports show that a vast 66% of social media users believe their social media usage habits will increase due to the Coronavirus (IZEA). According to Kantar, users are browsing 53% more on Facebook and 32% more on Instagram. Twitter has reported that daily usage is up 23% YOY as users flock to the social network for breaking news and up-to-date information (VOX). 

What are the most used social media sites?

In 2020, Facebook is the leading social network with people with 2.60 billion of the 3.81 billion social media users worldwide. YouTube follows this with 2 billion, then WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, and Instagram, all having 1 billion or more users. By 2021, Newcomer TikTok will have joined the 1 billion user club.

What next?

It seems in uncertain times, people flock to social media to stay informed with the news, their loved ones, and communities. Of course, we really didn’t have much of a choice. Although usage and time spent on social platforms has increased, many advertisers are seeing declines in performance, as non-essential products and services are being overlooked.

As a result of the changing media environment, with adults spending more of their time indoors, eMarketer has significantly revised its forecast figures from when it last made its predictions in Q4 2019. The earlier forecast expected time spent on social media sites to stick at 76 minutes per day from 2019 through 2021, but these new figures expect not only more time in 2020 (82 mins), but also in 2021 (80 mins) and 2022 (79 mins).

What are people doing on the most popular platforms.

About the author

An experienced and innovative digital marketer that has an outstanding background in all facets of multi-channel marketing that ranges from strategic planning, brand marketing, social media enthusiast to digital consulting for business.