Analyzing Facebook user growth and usage patterns in 2020

Analyzing Facebook user growth and usage patterns in 2020

In 2020, there has been a slowdown in the progress of legal investigations that Facebook faced in 2019, offering a temporary respite for this platform after facing heat for some time. However, this is by no means a sign of resolution or a glimpse into how these privacy concerns will be solved.

Moreover, a decline in time spent on this platform reveals that privacy concerns are still top of mind and that there may be other fires to put out. To address concerns and set expectations for Facebook advertising this year, eMarketer has put together an updated US Social Trends for 2020 report.

Some highlights include:

1. Facebook Video Marketing to Grow With User Demand

Due in part to the widespread criticism Facebook has endured and the emergence of shiny, new apps with parallel offerings, Facebook user time has been at a standstill since 2016, consistently averaging 40 minutes of time spent by users per day. Marketers will have to take a closer look at user expectations and consider adjusting their advertising strategy.

While user focus may be dwindling, advertisers continue to instill faith in digital video ads, which shows that users are still visiting this site, and that video is an effective way to reach audiences. However, video-on-demand service Facebook Watch and their Stories feature are not capturing the attention of audiences.

In contrast, 62.3% of the total spend among the top five placements have gone to the Facebook News Feed. This is an ironic revelation, as this venue has also been the epicenter of user speculation around issues like fake news and negative content.

2. Time Spent on Facebook Will Hit a New Low

The lack of enthusiasm around Facebook Watch is indicative of a downward trend of time spent on Facebook. This year, the amount of time US adult Facebook users will fall to 33 minutes per day, down from 40 minutes per day in 2016.

The drop off of users ages 18 to 24 has surely impacted this statistic. But older users are also a factor, as they are not spending enough time on Facebook to offset the decline among younger adults. However, rather than leaving Facebook altogether, users may spread their time across various sites. CEO Mark Zuckerberg can only hope that those departing Facebook will migrate over to Instagram, so they can continue to reap the benefits.

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3. Facebook Won't Be Forced to Break Up This Year, and Privacy Investigations Will Linger

While Congress, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and US Department of Justice have indicated that they are working hard to resolve these investigations, this proposed legislation can take years and they don't appear to be in a rush. Furthermore, even if granted a preliminary injunction, that would only be one step toward the possibility of breaking up this company.

The timeline and final ruling on this is currently a ways off, but consider that only 19% of US adult internet users trust Facebook with their personal information. As a result, we might see even more privacy skeletons emerge from Facebook's closet.

4. Political Ads Opportunities and Troubles

The 2020 US presidential elections also has some tie-in to data privacy worries. While there is support from both political parties to address these concerns, no one can agree about what should change about how companies use data. Candidates will hone talking points about digital privacy to win votes, but may simultaneously funnel money into social advertising, indicating that they may not actually be in a rush to do something about this.

While Twitter has chosen to block political ads and Google has limited its targeting, Facebook has made the controversial decision to allow content that some consider biased and deceptive to flourish on their app. While many have jumped on the bandwagon to point fingers at Facebook, others argue that this is a larger issue of lack of control over US campaign laws that are due for a massive update.

The cold hard truth is that even if all social properties banned political advertising, that wouldn't solve the issue of this campaign messaging spreading by way of viral organic content.

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