If you want to understand the latest social media platform updates and increase your own social media marketing efforts, it’s worth taking a broader look at spending trends and considering how people want to use social apps to connect in different ways over time.
By understanding such trends, you can get a clearer idea of what people want to see from your brand – here comes the latest report from the app analysis platform App Annie.
App Annie’s ‘Evolution of Social Apps’ report examines how social media usage trends have evolved over the last decade, highlighting the rise in live streaming, the growing focus on social commerce, the growth of TikTok and Snapchat, and more.
The report is a key read for those who want to keep control of key changes and what drives the latest platform updates. You can download the full report here, but in this article we will look at some of the key notes that interest us.
Probably the biggest highlight of the report is the increase in consumer spending in social applications, with cumulative spending already standing at $ 3.2 billion in the first half of 2021, up 50% from the previous year.
As you can see in this chart, the wider adoption of social media apps in Asian markets – especially in India – has pushed in-app spending to new heights, and App Annie predicts app-to-year spending will reach $ 6.78 b this year years.
It is expected to continue to grow at an annual growth rate of around 29%, according to which, according to App Annie projects, spending on social applications will reach a whopping $ 78 billion by 2025.
If you’ve been wondering why every app wants to switch to an in-stream store, this is it. The data point to a significant opportunity for those platforms that can extend user engagement to direct consumption and shopping behavior, facilitating new revenue potential for platforms and new opportunities for brands.
If you haven’t thought about including your product catalog in Facebook or Instagram stores or aren’t following TikTok’s evolving e-commerce plans, it may be time to pay attention (you can sign up for our newsletter here).
The report also considers how users intend to spend in social applications, and the creators of live streaming are at the forefront in many respects.
According to the report:
“The total time spent in the top 5 social applications with a focus on live streaming exceeds half a trillion hours on Android phones alone, outside China in 2021, a three-year compound annual growth rate of 25% compared to 15% for chat and photo and video apps. ”
What an interesting shift – between 2014 and 2018, the focus shifted from social media platforms and public broadcasting of your thoughts and opinions, and instead to messaging and private groups, especially with Facebook, which put a lot of pressure on groups as a means to increase engagement within the application.
Live streaming seems to be gaining momentum again. Which, of course, is exacerbated by the pandemic, and live streaming often provides the best replacement for social media for those who are closed. But even if that’s the case, the live broadcast seems to have a moment. And when you consider that expanding that VR connection and socializing in digital worlds (e.g. Metaverse), it seems likely that this trend will continue, even when we move to a post-COVID environment.
But it’s not just about watching live broadcasts, it’s also spent on broadcasts:
“Social applications that offer live streaming as featured a $ 3 account feature out of every $ 4 spent on the top 25 social apps in the first half of 2021. ”
A major element of this growth was virtual “gifting,” and content creators in Asia, in particular, generated large dollars from virtual gifts that basically acted as donations to authors, subsidizing their production.
Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok have created their own variations of the same, and while the trend doesn’t seem to have caught on in western regions with the same credibility as their Asian counterparts, the data again points to significant opportunities, with live streams providing a sense of direct connectivity, helping community building and facilitating ongoing direct transactions.
Indeed, Facebook is now testing a live shopping stream in its main app, and also on Instagram, while TikTok has also hosted a series of live shopping collaborations with the brand’s big brands and stars.
Whether this will become a major trend in Western markets remains to be seen, but the opportunity exists and, as noted, is in line with wider changes in use.
The report also looks at the growth of TikTok, which according to App Annie has now surpassed YouTube in the US and UK by the average monthly time spent in the app, per user.
TikTok’s growth has been amazing to witness, and now it’s hard to see that this popularity isn’t turning it into a sustainable business, both for TikTok itself and for its leading stars. The main risk for TikTok remains efficient monetization, as short videos offer less potential for ads, and thus lower revenue for creators. In that sense, YouTube and Facebook may offer better revenue opportunities, but TikTok is working to establish a more direct link between brands and creators, while also experimenting with longer-form videos to facilitate advertising opportunities.
There is also the ever-present risk that the U.S. government, and potentially others, could move to ban TikTok because of the Chinese government’s affiliation. That element has fallen silent lately, but it is a long-standing concern among security analysts and could continue to become a major hurdle for the app, if questioned once again.
For this reason, it also seems likely that top creators will strive to keep opportunities open, rather than relying on the app – which in itself could be an obstacle for TikTok to maximize its growth potential.
In any case, from the point of view of general use, TikTok is obviously a big winner and continues to gain strength in the social space.
Which is also reflected in this chart, looking at the ranking of app downloads in the last decade.
Facebook’s dominance is absolutely clear, but it’s interesting to note other trends, such as the rise of TikTok, the fall of Twitter, and the re-emergence of Snapchat.
Which is another element highlighted in the report – according to App Annie, Snapchat’s overseas takeovers have risen 45% in the last 12 months, compared to 2 years earlier.
This can be largely attributed to India, where Snapchat has experienced immense popularity since launching its updated version of Android 2019. Earlier this year, Snapchat reported a 150% increase in active users in the region.
Exactly what most social applications are looking for now – with the increase in the number of Indian smartphones, there is the possibility of connecting with billions of users, and the applications that can gain the most popularity in India expect great benefits, especially in terms of app purchases and revenue potential.
So in many respects the latest features and updates you see are not even focused on you. Live shopping, in-app shopping, and other add-ons are indeed focused on the Asian market, where there is much greater potential for social app growth than in Western regions, where adoption is already high and consumption is not increasing at the same rate.
So even if you don’t think these new elements will work, they may want to in other regions, and if they adopt in both the US and Europe, it’s just a bonus.
Therefore, if you really want to assess where things are leading in the social media environment and what platforms will focus on in the future, it might be worth looking at Asian adoption trends instead or considering what is becoming increasingly popular in China, within your own web bubble.
And what is currently gaining strength in China? Live Store and Douyin, a local version of TikTok.
It is not difficult to see that any of these elements are becoming increasingly important in Western markets.
You can download the App Annie report on the evolution of social media here.
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