AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
- The average time people are spending on Facebook is continuing to decline.
- That’s according to a new survey from financial services firm Cowen.
- But Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app, is growing healthily.
- The data underlines the stark contrast between the scandal-rocked core Facebook social network and its buzzy sister app.
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Facebook and Instagram are currently following very different paths.
Time spent on the core Facebook app by its 1.52 billion daily active users is steadily dwindling, continuing a years-long downwards trend — but Instagram is booming.
Financial services firm Cowen recently published the latest update from its quarterly social survey, that analyses usage trends of the major social networks. It found that in the first quarter of 2019, the average daily time spent on Facebook by users in the US dropped to 49 minutes — down from 51 minutes three months ago, and substantively down from the 58-minute average of Q1 2017.
Instagram, meanwhile, is creeping up slowly, to an average 34 minutes a day (up 3% year-on-year), with the biggest jumps in core young demographics.
The data, based on a survey of 2,500 people, provides insight into how usage patterns on Facebook are declining amid its years of scandals — but make clear that Instagram continues to be a rich seam of opportunity for the California social networking firm to grow.
Cowen analyst John Blackledge described Facebook as "the premier social advertising platform," and predicts 15% annual growth in company revenues until 2024.
Buffeted by successive crises and mounting criticism over the effects in social media, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in January 2018 that one of the company’s targets for the year was to focus on "time well spent" — prioritizing "meaningful interactions" on the platform over passive consumption of content like viral video, even if it means users spent less time on Facebook overall.
Some of the drop-off detected by Cowen will likely be attributable to these changes — but the data also highlights that the origins of this decline preceded the changes, and that Facebook still isn’t at the bottom, more than a year later.
Instagram, on the other hand, has gone from strength to strength, avoiding the degree of scandals that have faced Facebook’s core app (scrutiny over bullying and self-harm imagery notwithstanding). "Instagram most notably experienced an ~4 minute per day increase compared to last year among users 25-35," wrote Blackledge. "Usage among the highest-engagement 18-24 cohort was also up ~2 minutes/day vs last year."
Meanwhile, investors’ mouths are watering at the potential of Instagram’s big push into shopping, with analysts for Deutsche Bank recently predicting that it will generate $10 billion of revenue for the company in 2021.
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