Instagram photos can be posted from the top of a remote mountain mere moments after a hiker reaches the summit, and CEOs are able to discuss key business plans via Whatsapp as one boards a plane and another walks into a conference room on the other side of the world. Memories of a time in which online gaming and chatting with friends on social media could only be done via a desktop computer are fading, as we instead turn to our phones and tablets to keep us entertained everywhere we go, at any time we want.
According to a survey held in May 2017, 44 percent of mobile minutes in Argentina were spent on social media. The figure for the United States stands at 25 percent, and a separate study revealed that communication and social apps have the second highest market reach in the country. Facebook currently holds the title of most popular social app accessed several times a day in the United States – despite 22 percent of U.S. citizens surveyed in spring 2018 having a very unfavorable opinion of the platform – but lost out to YouTube by one percent in terms of market penetration.
For market leaders and startups alike, it is important to consider the activities of second screen users. A 2017 survey revealed that 81 percent of smartphone owners in the United States used their phones while eating at a restaurant, and 92 percent did the same whilst out shopping. These figures are worth keeping in mind as users who multi-task in this way are likely to engage with content differently. As such, striving to offer a smooth, efficient user experience with relevant content and cleverly targeted advertising is key in terms of maintaining and improving user retention, especially among those who perform several activities at once and may be harder to engage. As of 2018, Tumblr had the highest average session duration in the United States, which amounted to just 5.2 minutes. In a market where the average daily time spent on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram is 25 minutes or above, sites could be doing more to keep their users engaged for longer periods of time. Conversely, the average time spent per day with mobile messaging apps by adults in the United States is ten minutes.
Mobile social media sites which are highly focused on aesthetics and visually appealing content are performing well, particularly Instagram which as of 2017 had 85.5 million users in the United States. The daily time spent on Instagram in the United States rose from 18 minutes in 2014 to 25 minutes in 2017, and increased usage of the platform is forecast to grow incrementally over the coming years. This growth comes in spite of Instagram’s transition to an algorithmic feed in 2016, which remains a hotly debated topic among users who claim that the switch has detrimentally affected how much exposure their content receives. The platform is most popular among younger users, with 64 percent of adults aged between 18 and 29 using the site, and 47 percent of users in this age group accessing Instagram at least once a day. The figures for Snapchat tell a similar story. Just 22 percent of internet users in the United States aged between 18 and 29 said that they never use Snapchat, a number which rises significantly with age.
As mobile social media becomes more available to younger users than ever before, the market shows no signs of shrinking in the future, in fact Snapchat is predicted to have two million users aged 11 or under in the United States by 2021. The most recent data shows that the leading reason teenagers feel that social media has a positive effect on people their own age is because it allows them to connect with friends and family, and if future generations feel the same, mobile social media usage is likely to have a positive impact on how younger people network, keep in touch and make connections.