Social media dynamics shift from video to text

In 2023, social media users in the United States are projected to allocate more than half of their daily social activity to watching videos, marking a significant increase from before the pandemic. Nonetheless, the rapid growth of social video seems to be tapering off, suggesting that there might be a saturation point for users’ daily video consumption.

According to Insider Intelligence forecasts, the portion of daily user time devoted to video content will experience a gradual rise. The share surged by over 20 percentage points from 2019 to 2022, reaching 53.3%. However, the increase is expected to be more subdued between 2023 and 2025: 4.5 minutes in 2023, 3.0 minutes in 2024, and merely 1.7 minutes in 2025, culminating at an estimated 65.3 minutes per day.

Surprisingly, TikTok‘s average daily usage growth among its users is unfolding slower than initially anticipated. A recalibration of growth projections has occurred due to data from Sensor Tower cited by investment bank JMP Securities in July. Although daily user time in the US demonstrated a YoY decline in Q1 2023, it managed to rebound and exhibit modest growth in Q2. Projections for this year point to a meager 3.5% increase, a considerable decline from the 14.9% surge in 2022.

Competitors such as Snap Originals, Instagram‘s IGTV, and Facebook Watch have struggled to match TikTok’s appeal, leading to their eventual abandonment. Instagram’s Reels has not bridged the gap between the platform and TikTok either. YouTube stands as the only contender with comparable usage numbers, though it’s not accounted for in social video forecasts.

A shift toward text-based apps is gaining momentum. While platforms like X (formerly known as Twitter) grapple with maintaining relevance, the success of Meta’s Threads app underscores the continued interest in text-based communication. These formats could potentially command a larger share of user time, diverting attention away from video content.

Despite the growth of video consumption, social media users still value the platforms primarily for connecting with friends and family. Research from Q4 2022 conducted by GWI revealed that 48.2% of global social media users cited staying in touch as a key reason for their social media usage, surpassing the 29.2% who mentioned consuming content like articles and videos. This trend is observed even among the video-focused age group of 16 to 24, where connections hold more significance than content (46.5% versus 33.4%).

Investing in social video advertising remains crucial, even as the growth in video consumption moderates. Over 40% of video ad spending is projected to be allocated to social video this year. However, a balanced approach is recommended, with a mix of ad formats such as image-based ads. Brands leveraging Instagram, for instance, have found photo carousels to be almost as effective as Reels in terms of engagement.

Observing the trajectory of text-based communication is advisable, and until ads become available on Threads, exploring sponsored creator content can be a viable strategy for advertisers.

Written by Gizem Yılmaz


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