US Social Media Outlook 2023
The Social Media Marketing landscape is constantly evolving and here are some great statistics for the last year, as well as future projections for the new year.
In 2023, the social platforms will attempt to heal from last year’s external challenges and self-inflicted wounds. It won’t be easy, but as they do, they’ll create new opportunities for marketers. Meanwhile, as government regulation on TikTok looms, a crop of new social apps is waiting in the sidelines.
3 KEY QUESTIONS THIS REPORT WILL ANSWER
- How will the rise of BeReal and other Gen Z-focused apps impact TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat?
- Will the rallying cry to ban TikTok continue into 2023?
- What platforms will benefit from Twitter’s user decline?
Most popular social networks worldwide as of January 2022, ranked by number of monthly active users (in millions)
KEY STAT: In 2023, TikTok will become the third social network, along with Facebook and Instagram, to surpass 100 million monthly US users—provided US lawmakers or regulators don’t grind its growth to a standstill.
- The social landscape will become more fragmented. The turmoil at Meta and Twitter, combined with Gen Z’s growing influence on the social market, will carve out more space for up-and-coming apps to gain share in 2023.
- TikTok’s biggest threat to growth isn’t competition from a new social app. It’s the US government.
- In crisis and chaos lies opportunity. There will be more platforms and tactics to reach US social users than ever before.
Behind the Numbers
Our worldwide social network user estimates are updated on a biannual basis to continually incorporate the latest changes and developments in consumers’ digital media consumption and technology adoption.
Our US forecast is based on the analysis of 9,203 metrics from 363 sources, including figures reported by social networks and research firms, along with demographic-specific and historical trends. We also consider various factors in social network adoption, such as local economic, political, and technological influences that affect consumption, communication, and social behaviors. Any duplicate, fake, or business accounts on social networks are not counted toward user estimates.
Our methodology incorporates ongoing qualitative trends and changes in major company initiatives, partnerships, and innovations to deliver an estimate of how social network adoption is expected to develop. All of our estimates take into account the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
2023 Will Be a Year of Change and Opportunity
2022 was a year of crisis for social media in the US, but 2023 will be a year of recovery and new beginnings. The social audience remains massive: This year, for the first time, roughly two-thirds of the US population will use a social network at least monthly, per our estimates. But the landscape will become increasingly fragmented, driven both by Gen Z and turmoil at the established social platforms.
Gen Z will make up almost one-quarter of US social users. In another first, there will be more Gen Z than Gen X monthly social users in the US in 2023. To put it another way, there are now almost 20 million more US Gen Z social users than there were in 2018, when ByteDance merged Musical.ly with TikTok and the app started to take off in the US. As Gen Z grows up (the oldest members will turn 26 this year), their social media preferences and habits will transform the US social landscape.
Percentage of Adults in the United States Who Use Social Media
Meta needs Instagram more than ever. Facebook is still far and away the top social network in the US, but it’s no secret that young users are eschewing the platform. The mounting losses among users ages 12 to 34, combined with marginal growth in older age groups, will keep Facebook’s growth in the red in 2023. Older Gen Zers are sticking with Instagram as they age, but its troubles among teens will make it increasingly difficult for Instagram to pick up Facebook’s slack.
TikTok’s future has never been more uncertain. TikTok is without question Gen Z’s favorite app, especially among teens: About 93% of US social users ages 12 to 17 will use it this year. But the investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) continues to loom, and the movement to ban TikTok will pick up speed in 2023. Any measure to curtail TikTok’s growth would create more space for apps like BeReal to move in.
The continued chaos at Twitter will also cause shifts in the market. Twitter managed to stave off a user decline in 2022, but that won’t be the case this year. Twitter’s user losses will be mostly LinkedIn’s and Reddit’s gain, as Mastodon (an app similar to Twitter) is too complicated for mainstream users to use.
Advertisers will have more ways than ever to reach social audiences. Macroeconomic headwinds, the impact of Apple’s privacy-related challenges, and competition from retail media networks has caused us to make an unprecedented reduction in our US social ad spending forecast. But as those challenges continue, the social platforms will have a strong impetus to develop new ad formats and technologies—to the benefit of advertisers. Meanwhile, new apps will provide marketers with other avenues to reach users, such as organic and influencer marketing.
Social Media Ad Spend Projections (Billions)
And 2023’s breakout app may be one we haven’t even heard of yet. The wave of tech layoffs has created a wide network of unemployed talent with time—and resources—to develop “the next big thing.” Marketers should enter 2023 prepared for more change.TikTok Will Face Its Biggest Threat(s) Yet
For TikTok, 2023 will be a year of several major milestones. But that’s assuming the US government doesn’t halt the app’s growth in its tracks.
TikTok is the first true Gen Z app. Until TikTok’s meteoric rise during the pandemic, most people equated Gen Z with Snapchat—and for good reason: Over half (52%) of Snapchat’s US users will be Gen Zers in 2023. But TikTok will surpass Snapchat among teens ages 12 to 17 this year, and by 2024, more Gen Zers will use TikTok than Snapchat.
Note: It wasn’t until 2020 that Gen Z overtook millennials as Snapchat’s core audience, per our forecast. That’s because in 2011, when Snapchat launched, the oldest members of Gen Z were just 14 years old. The youngest members weren’t even born yet.
TikTok will surpass 100 million monthly users in 2023. To put that figure into perspective, TikTok’s US user base will be almost five times the population of Florida, the home state of Sen. Marco Rubio, who introduced legislation to ban TikTok in the US in December. The draft bill has garnered bipartisan support, as lawmakers grow impatient with the CFIUS process.
(Reminder: Our forecast differs from the social platforms’ reported figures as we factor out fake, business, and duplicate accounts.)
Number of TikTok users in the United States from 2019 to 2025 (in millions)
TikTok’s fate is in the hands of the US government—again. More than half of the 50 states and the federal government have already fully or partially banned TikTok on government devices, and dozens of schools and universities have restricted the app’s use on campuses. Support for Rubio’s bill—which would create an outright ban on the app in the US—could grow this year, as TikTok’s US ad revenues continue to rise, and the company shifts its focus to building out its commerce business.
A TikTok ban would benefit more apps than just BeReal. Roughly one-third (34%) of teens with an average age of 15.8 used BeReal monthly as of April 2022, per Piper Sandler’s annual report. But there’s also a slew of other apps from Gas to Fizz ready to stake its claim on Gen Z. That’s not to mention Meta, which is likely waiting with bated breath for a resolution.
What to Watch
- Some type of anti-TikTok measure will make serious headway. It’s too soon to say how restrictive that measure will be, but risk-averse advertisers—and users—should start to view TikTok with more scrutiny.
- TikTok still needs older people. Snapchat has struggled to attract older generations for years. TikTok’s audience is already more diverse age-wise, but as it reaches saturation among Gen Z, it will need to succeed where Snapchat hasn’t.
- Gen Z will put the “social” back in “social media.” Community and connections are at the core of many of the new apps. Established platforms are also emphasizing their social features; TikTok unveiled a Friends tab last year, and Instagram is removing its Shop tab from its navigation bar.
2023 Will Be a Mixed Bag for Meta and Snap
After a dismal 2022, there are reasons to be more optimistic about Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat in 2023. But worries still linger.
Meta remains massive, but its dominance is waning. Meta’s ad business will return to growth this year, after its first-ever revenue decline in 2022. Meanwhile, Meta’s US monthly user base (excluding WhatsApp, Messenger, and Oculus/Reality Labs) will continue to grow in 2023. The catch is that Instagram now accounts for all that growth.
Meta’s global revenue as of 3rd quarter 2022(in million U.S. dollars)
In good news, Gen Z isn’t (entirely) giving up on Instagram yet. For older Gen Zers, Instagram has become what Facebook is to millennials: Necessary, even if frustratingly so. As a result, more than three-quarters of Gen Z social network users now use Instagram, and that figure is still rising.
Number of Generation Z users in the United States on selected social media platforms from 2020 to 2025 (in millions)
But teens still aren’t joining Instagram in big numbers. Despite its best efforts to attract them, Instagram will add just 100,000 US users ages 12 to 17 in 2023. That will result in barely a net increase in users for 2022 when combining Meta platforms.
Snapchat is still growing, albeit slowly. Snap’s US ad revenue growth slipped to its lowest level yet in 2022 and will grow by just 15.9% this year. Total user growth is also slowing, primarily as older users leave the platform. Luckily, the continued gains in its Gen Z audience will be just enough to make up for those losses.
What to Watch
- Meta has little room for mistakes. Expect the company to downplay its metaverse pivot in 2023 and ramp up its focus on Reels, especially on Facebook. Instagram will need to solve its existential crisis; it can’t afford to alienate users again like it did after last year’s user experience changes that prioritized videos and recommended content.
- Snap may accept its marginal user growth. It’s doubling down on features like subscription service Snapchat+ that appeal to loyal users, while working to bring its augmented reality (AR) tech off the platform. Though Snapchat+ won’t be a revenue boon, it will help to increase engagement, and Snap’s new AR integrations could position it well for future non-ad revenue growth.
LinkedIn and Reddit Will Gain From Twitter’s Losses
Musk’s turbulent takeover of Twitter will send the platform into a user decline in 2023. Despite the hype, however, most Twitter deserters won’t go to Mastodon.
By 2024, Twitter’s user base will be the smallest it’s been in a decade. Twitter will lose approximately 8 million monthly US users between 2022 and 2024.
Our forecast is based on the following assumptions:
- Users will begin to leave the platform in 2023 as they grow frustrated with technical issues and the proliferation of offensive content. The continued dearth of staff in infrastructure and content moderation will make it difficult for Twitter to counteract the problems. In late December, for example, Twitter suffered its first major outage under Musk, with tens of thousands of users unable to access or use the platform for roughly 5 hours before it was resolved.
- Musk’s priority will be revenues, not user growth. Musk can’t achieve his goal of overhauling Twitter’s monetization model to make it less reliant on advertising if he can’t bring in revenues in the short term. In January, The Information reported that Twitter’s daily ad revenues were down 40% year over year (YoY), and that 500 of Twitter’s top advertisers had paused spending since Musk took over the company in October.
- The loss of marginal users will exacerbate the decline. Twitter was able to register slight monthly user growth in 2022 thanks to curious onlookers who signed up or logged in more frequently to watch the drama unfold. But those marginal users, who are primarily outside of Twitter’s core age 25 to 44 demographic, will be among the first to go as Twitter becomes more unstable, unwelcoming, and unenticing.
Reddit will have more US monthly users than Twitter in 2024. In our previous forecast, completed prior to the acquisition, we expected Twitter to have 5.3 million more users than Reddit in 2024. Reddit is no stranger to content-moderation concerns, but unlike Musk-era Twitter, it’s taking steps to mitigate them as it works to attract both users and advertisers.
More than one-quarter of US adults now use LinkedIn. To be fair, LinkedIn’s 2023 growth is mainly due to the recent layoffs in tech and other industries as well as economic uncertainty, which have led job seekers to turn to the platform as they look for opportunities and support. But LinkedIn is also increasingly becoming a more news-oriented platform. That makes it a strong alternative to those Twitter users, particularly journalists, who are leaving the platform.
What to Watch
- Reddit and LinkedIn will capitalize on their heightened usage. Both are still blips in the digital ad market, but their US ad businesses will grow almost three times as fast as Meta’s—and around 10 times faster than Twitter’s—in 2023. But more users could also mean more problems, particularly in terms of hostile or unsavory content.
- Musk could still slow the user exodus. Twitter could avoid major service issues and develop AI content-moderation tools that would lessen the decline. But it’s unlikely that most Twitter deserters will return, or that new users will join, if Musk is unable to ship new products to attract them—and when consumers will have more choices of where to spend their social time than ever before.
Original Aritcle By Insider Intelligence | eMarketer – https://www.insiderintelligence.com/content/us-social-media-outlook-2023
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