Social Media Update Q1 2020

Usage Soars as Coronavirus Spreads, but Platforms Warn of Shrinking Revenues

About This Report
As with every other aspect of our lives, COVID-19 is impacting social media usage and advertising. Some of those changes, along with other important ad product launches, will continue to affect advertisers once the pandemic ends.

Executive Summary

This is the latest installment in an ongoing series of updates for the major social platforms. The goal of each report is to provide a summary of key recent developments and what they mean for marketers.

How is social network ad spending doing?

In mid-March, Twitter announced that it expects to see a drop in its Q1 2020 revenues, and Facebook warned that its ad business is weakening in countries most affected by COVID-19. Both announcements indicate tough times ahead for social network advertising due to the impact of the coronavirus on the global economy and thus, advertiser demand.

How has the social network user experience changed in Q1 2020?

Usage is rising as consumers try to stay connected, informed and entertained while in quarantine. The platforms have added new features, including Snapchat’s wellness tool and Instagram’s “Co-Watching” option, to encourage people to stay home and stay healthy.

How have social networks responded to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The social networks have taken unprecedented steps, both individually and in unison, to combat coronavirus-related misinformation. The coordinated effort is a first for the platforms, which are at odds over how to deal with other types of misinformation, like that involving political content.

How have social network ad products and targeting changed in Q1 2020?

Facebook has added several tools to give users more control over their ad experience, including an option to stop seeing ads based on advertiser’s Custom Audience lists. It also backed off plans to launch ads in WhatsApp. Meanwhile, Instagram rolled out ads in IGTV, its longer-form video service, and Snapchat released “Swipe Up to Call” and “Swipe Up to Text” ads in the US.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report explores key developments and forecasts for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter in Q1 2020. It also includes our first-ever US and UK TikTok user forecasts.

KEY STAT: More than half (55%) of US adults are getting at least some information about the coronavirus on social media.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Trend in Focus: The Current State of Misinformation
  3. Facebook
  1. Instagram
  2. Snapchat
  3. Twitter
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery


Jasmine Enberg


Debra Aho Williamson
Principal Analyst

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