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US Social Media Usage

How the Coronavirus Is Changing Consumer Behavior

About This Report
Well into the pandemic, consumers still say they are spending more time with social media. Activities like live streaming, video chatting and gaming are drawing some of them in.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

US consumers have flocked to social media during the pandemic, providing an unexpected boost to properties both young (TikTok) and old (Facebook). While growth in time spent on social media won’t continue past 2020, features such as live streaming, video chat and gaming will get more attention.

What changed about consumer social media usage during March and April?

As many as half of US adults said they were using social media more, according to some research sources. All of the major social platforms also reported strong increases in engagement.

How much time will US consumers spend on social networks in 2020?

Gains in time spent with social networks had stalled in recent years, but the pandemic led us to revise our forecast upward. This year, US adult social network users will spend 7 more minutes per day on social networks than in 2019. Instagram and Snapchat will benefit the most, and Facebook will see the smallest boost. (We don’t break out other properties such as Twitter, LinkedIn or TikTok.) But time spent will start declining again in 2021 as the pandemic boost wears off.

How did the pandemic affect US mobile messaging usage?

We have increased our forecast, but the rise in usage is due not only to the pandemic but also additional data showing strong engagement with Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple iMessage and others. Time spent on mobile messaging among US adults will grow by 4 minutes in 2020, to 24 minutes per day.

Which social media activities are gaining more attention during the pandemic?

The pandemic is hastening the development of new live streaming, video chat and gaming features on social platforms. Some of these were already starting to develop before the pandemic, and they may gain an even firmer foothold afterward.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report explores US social media usage patterns during the start of the coronavirus pandemic and discusses three activities to pay attention to.

KEY STAT: This year, US adult social network users will spend 82 minutes per day on social networks, a significant upgrade from our previous forecast of 76 minutes.

Here’s what’s in the full report


Exportable files for easy reading, analysis and sharing.


Reliable data in simple displays for presentations and quick decision making.

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. The Pandemic Gave Social Media an Unexpected Boost
  3. Usage Trends Will Likely Moderate in Late 2020 and Beyond
  1. Three Social Media Activities to Watch
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report


Debra Aho Williamson


Ross Benes
Bianca Carasus
Mark Dolliver
Principal Analyst
Blake Droesch
Junior Analyst
Jasmine Enberg
Senior Analyst
Natalie McGranahan
Senior Researcher and Taxonomy Manager
Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst
Chuck Rawlings
Yoram Wurmser
Principal Analyst
Na Li
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