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Why Haven’t New Users Flocked to Social Media During COVID-19?

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital marketing experts speculated that social media networks would see a significant increase in engagement and new users. During a time of unprecedented unrest and uncertainty, the thinking went, people would flock to Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms for instant, up-to-the-minute news coverage.

That prediction has not come to fruition, according to an October 26 report from eMarketer. While engagement by existing users has increased, there has been no overwhelming influx of new users. eMarketer predicts that there will be 212.1 million social media users in the United States this year, up 3.3 per cent from 2019. The publisher had predicted 2.5 per cent user growth at the beginning of the year.

Engagement, on the other hand, is up significantly. According to a GlobalWebIndex study from May, 43 per cent of social media users between the ages of 16 and 64 reported spending more time on the platforms during the pandemic, and 16 per cent planned to continue that behaviour. In the United States, eMarketer is reporting an 8.8 per cent average daily increase in time spent with social media. That metric fell 1.3 per cent in 2019.

So, existing social media users are engaging with their platforms more than ever, but the networks are failing to attract new users. From a digital marketing perspective, that means that budget allocated to social media continues to be well-spent. For the networks themselves, this trend spells trouble.

“The US social network user space is already well saturated, with 73.2% penetration among internet users of any age and 81.3% penetration among adult internet users,” eMarketer reports. “And there is little room for growth.”

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency, GrowthEngine Media has deep experience advertising in the social media landscape. Contact us today to discuss how your business can get more from your social media advertising dollars.


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