Social media engagement: the surprising facts about how much time people spend on the major social networks
Social platforms have become the new leaders in the digital media industry, evolving well past their beginnings as digital communication networks and becoming full-fledged media distribution channels and entertainment centers.
Today social dominates users’ attention. Nearly 20% of total time spent online in the US across both desktop and mobile devices is on social platforms. Facebook, alone, makes up 14% of total time spent online, according to comScore.
Looking at pure time spend figures, however, doesn’t take into account the size of a platform’s user base. To meaningfully compare social platforms’ engagement levels, one must compare how effective each social platform is at driving attention on a per-user basis. For example, while Snapchat’s monthly active user base is estimated to be slightly smaller than Twitter, the photo-sharing app is five times more effective at engaging users, according to BI Intelligence’s new social engagement index.
In a new report by BI Intelligence, we take a deeper look at user engagement at Facebook and Facebook-owned sites, including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, as well as Snapchat and struggling early heavyweights like Twitter and LinkedIn. We also take a look at the functions and content users are engaging with on each platform, and lay out the newest opportunities for brands and advertisers. Finally, we discuss what the future of social might look like with the emergence of new content formats like live streams and virtual reality.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- When looked at on a per-user basis, Facebook is still the leader in engagement by a wide margin, but it’s followed behind by Snapchat, which has fewer users than Twitter or Instagram. Tumblr ranks just behind Snapchat on our engagement index, followed by Pinterest.
- Of the top social media platforms, LinkedIn is least effective in getting users to engage. In March, LinkedIn had the second-largest unique digital population out of our selected social platforms, but it also reported the lowest overall time spend. However, Microsoft’s recent acquisition of LinkedIn could result in a significant rise in engagement for the platform.
- As social platforms mature and new ones emerge, the user and brand use cases for each become more varied. Facebook has seen a decline in user posts but a big rise in news consumption and video viewing. Snapchat is still favored for messaging but its Live Stories and Discover channels are turning the app into a media distribution platform. Twitter is beginning to prioritize video with its Periscope acquisition and NFL streaming deal.
In full, the report:
- Presents a social index for engagement on top social platforms for both total digital and mobile.
- Discusses top social platforms and lays out how users engage with each platform.
- Identifies some of the best new opportunities for brands and advertisers to reach users on each social platform.
- Lays out how social platforms are shaping the future of social engagement including virtual reality and messaging apps.