Social Media App Use Is Down from Last Year

Time spent on social media apps — at least on Android ones — is noticeably lower in the first quarter of 2016 than it was at the same period last year, a new study reports.

Marketing intelligence firm SimilarWeb is behind the data, which pinpoints time on Facebook,  Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat from January to March and covers users located in U.S., India, South Africa, UK,  Spain, Germany, Australia, Brazil, and Spain.

Overall social media app usage was down the most on the Facebook-owned Instagram and down the least on Facebook itself:

Instagram: Down 23.7 percent

Twitter: Down 23.4 percent

Snapchat: Down 15.7 percent

Facebook: Down 8 percent

The news aligns with data from tech analyst Mary Meeker’s recent report: Growth is slowly dramatically across many aspects of tech and media, not just social media app engagement. Emily Bell, director of Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, best broke down the new information in a recent article for The Guardian:

“The brakes are being applied to everything; from the rate of sale of mobile phones (up only 21% year on year compared with 31% the previous year) to the overall use of the internet, where the total universe of users only grew 9% year on year last year. For the media sector Meeker’s slides held a particular foreboding around the rate of growth for and distribution of advertising revenue. The mixed news here was that internet advertising has grown 20%, year on year, but the majority of that growth is represented by mobile ads (up 66%, versus desktop which is up only 5%).”

Bell’s ominous conclusion to the analysis: “There is a ceiling on growth of people, of the devices they buy, the places they spend their time and the money they spend. And there is a ceiling on the number of companies enjoying what’s left of the growth.” With growth slowing, platforms and media publishers will be increasingly focused on consolidating and determining what revenue model can support them.

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Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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