Social Media Update Q1 2021

Twitter Without Trump, Facebook Without News, and Our New Forecast for Time Spent with Social Networks

About This Report
The major social platforms hit the ground running in 2021, making substantial investments into many of today’s top social trends: audio, influencers, and short video, to name a few.

Executive Summary

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

How much time are consumers spending on social media?

Our latest forecast shows that US social network users will spend slightly less time on social platforms in 2021 than they did in 2020, while time spent among UK users will remain relatively stable.

How are Facebook and Twitter dealing with news and politics?

Both platforms made high-profile moves in Q1 2021 to limit news and politics, including banning or suspending former US President Donald Trump’s accounts. Facebook also temporarily pulled all news content from its platform in Australia, and it began reducing the amount of political content on its News Feed in some countries.

How have social network features changed in Q1?

Twitter expanded its social audio feature, Twitter Spaces, to Android users, beating Clubhouse to the punch. Facebook started a test to bring Instagram’s Reels to the News Feed. And Instagram introduced Live Rooms, which increased the maximum number of hosts on its live video product from two to four. Snapchat rolled out its TikTok-like Spotlight feed to more countries.

What are some major monetization product and ad targeting changes?

Facebook said it will comply with the upcoming changes to Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) in iOS 14, but with its own twist. Snapchat struck a new deal with Gannett that shows it’s going after local ad dollars. Instagram partnered with Shopify to ease ecommerce transactions on its site. Twitter started exploring subscriptions and shoppable tweets, while continuing to work on its direct-response offerings.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report explores key developments for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, as well as our latest forecasts for US and UK time spent with social networks. It also includes highlights from our new forecast for social network ad revenues.

KEY STAT: With the exception of Snapchat, daily time spent among US adult users of every social network will dip in 2021 but remain higher than in 2019, before the pandemic took hold.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Trend in Focus: What Would Less News or Politics Mean for Social Media?
  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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