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What the ‘death’ of social media means for advertisers, according to our forecast

Is social media dead? Not exactly. But it has become “less social and more media,” as Insider reported.

  • Users are posting less every day as polished influencer marketing campaigns and algorithm-curated social feeds make the stakes of posting feel too high.
  • But more time is being spent on most platforms, with the exception of Facebook and X (formerly Twitter).

“I still log in multiple times a day to my social media accounts. And that’s true for Gen Z as well,” said our analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “They’re still checking their feeds, watching Stories, exchanging DMs, and consuming short videos.”

If people are spending more time than ever on TikTok and Instagram but posting less, what are they doing?

  • “I still log in multiple times a day to my social media accounts. And that’s true for Gen Z as well,” said our analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “They’re still checking their feeds, watching Stories, exchanging DMs, and consuming short videos.”
  • While content creators and influencers are some of the only users posting regularly and publicly, other users are still active consumers and are still posting Stories, which vanish after 24 hours.
  • “Posting is hard work. Watching a few videos to kill some time is way easier,” said Williamson.

Users are sticking around existing platforms—they’re just not posting as much.

  • Tech companies and startups have scrambled to create new spaces to invigorate posting, but platforms like Threads, Lemon8, and BeReal have struggled to retain users.
  • Posting fatigue hasn’t driven people from popular platforms, but it has changed their behaviors. “If you look at how teens spend their time on Instagram, they spend more time in DMs than they do in Stories, and they spend more time in Stories than they do in-feed,” Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s head, said during an episode of the “20VC” podcast.
  • TikTok may be moving toward messaging and other private social engagement features, according to Axios.

As the era of posting fades, advertisers can still capitalize on the average 1 hour, 47 minutes US social network users will spend on the platforms this year, per our forecast.

  • Stories: People are still watching and posting the disappearing posts because there’s less pressure associated with them, according to Williamson. That means paid ad spots in Stories and influencer Stories are still opportune for advertisers.
  • In-feed ads and influencer posts: Time spent with Instagram and TikTok is higher than it’s ever been among US adults, according to our forecasts. Just because people aren’t posting doesn’t mean they’re not scrolling.
  • Niche communities: These are more difficult to find and participate in but can lead to great payoff. While brands can’t share memes in DM groups or post a Close Friends-only story the way users can, they can start their own communities via hashtags.

This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more marketing insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.