eMarketer Ups 2020 Projections for Time Spent on Social Networks Due to Covid-19

The research firm originally pegged an increase of just 6 seconds but revised it to 7 minutes

eMarketer said this will mark the first increase in average time spent on social platforms in the U.S. since 2017 shironosov/iStock
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eMarketer originally projected that average time spent on social networks by adult users in the U.S. would increase by just six seconds in 2020, but that was before the coronavirus pandemic.

The research firm’s new forecast for 2020 is one hour and 22 minutes per day, or nearly seven minutes more than 2019.

eMarketer said this will mark the first increase in average time spent on social platforms in the U.S. since 2017.


Instagram is seen as having the largest percentage hike in 2020, with average daily time spent rising 13.8% to almost 30 minutes. The increase of almost four minutes contrasts sharply with the 24-second climb in eMarketer’s original projections.

Principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said, “Instagram has seen increased engagement recently through features such as Instagram Live and Stories. Creators, celebrities and publishers have all used Instagram to demonstrate how they are dealing with stay-at-home orders.”

Snapchat came in a close second, with average daily time spent projected at 29.5 minutes per day for 2020, up 12%, or three minutes, compared with the previous year. The original projections called for a 30-second gain.

Williamson said, “For Snapchat, the increased time spent comes not only from users who are spending more time on the application communicating with friends, but also from rising viewership of Snapchat’s original shows and increases in video calling on the app.”

Facebook is only seen going up 1.4 minutes per day in 2020, to an average of just over 34 minutes. eMarketer’s initial estimates actually had the largest social network losing 42 seconds per day this year among U.S. adults.

Williamson said, “We believe that some users who have increased their usage of core Facebook in recent months may revert back to former usage patterns by the end of the year.”


eMarketer said it sees total social media time dropping slightly going into 2021 as stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, but still remaining above 2019 levels, calling out TikTok, Instagram Live, Snap Originals and other Discover content on Snapchat.

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.