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Instagram’s User Growth is Slowing, According to a New Report from eMarketer



Could Instagram be starting to tail off already?

According to a new report from eMarketer, Instagram’s growth will drop to single digits for the first time in 2020, with older users not migrating across to the app as fast as had been expected.

Instagram user growth

As per eMarketer:

“In 2019, Instagram’s US user growth rate will have dropped to single digits for the first time to 6.7%, down from 10.1% in 2018. Starting in 2020, and through the end of our forecast period in 2023, we estimate that the social media platform will grow slower than previously expected.”

I mean, that’s not a major concern – Instagram is already serving over a billion monthly active users, and these forecasts still project that to rise significantly over the next few years. But then again, Instagram hit the billion user mark back in June 2018, and we haven’t had any official update since. 

Could Instagram’s growth actually be slowing more than even these forecasts project?

eMarketer notes that, apart from older users not coming on-board, Instagram is also facing tougher competition from Snapchat and TikTok.

While older users will not be growing as fast, there have been larger-than-expected gains in US users ages 25 to 34, at 11.4%. However, we don’t anticipate that this group will change substantially in the coming years, as increased competition from a Snapchat resurgence and the rise of TikTok will make it harder for Instagram to maintain high growth.”

eMarketer does note that it expects Instagram’s ad revenue to grow some grow 46% to $13.86 billion in 2020 through the addition of more ad placement and eCommerce-related options. But the longer-term view could see Instagram lose some shine, and leave it susceptible to competition from rising, youth-oriented apps.


From a social media marketing perspective, that could change your approach, particularly if your audience tends to skew older. The assumption would have been that, like Facebook, Instagram’s user demographic would eventually grow up, and expand its spending potential, but, at least from eMarketers perspective, that’s not a clear certainty.

In some ways, that could also drive benefits – Facebook is reportedly seeing significant engagement declines, particularly among younger users, as a result of older audiences flowing in. Maybe, despite not seeing as much growth, Instagram will be able to maintain higher engagement rates overall, which could still be a net positive for marketing and branding purposes. 

But it’s another element to factor in. It’s not definitive, of course, as this is third-party analysis, not internal data from Facebook and/or Instagram. But as noted, Instagram hasn’t provided any official updates on usage for some time. There may well be good reason for that.



UK teen died after ‘negative effects of online content’: coroner



Molly Russell was exposed to online material 'that may have influenced her in a negative way'

Molly Russell was exposed to online material ‘that may have influenced her in a negative way’ – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Philip FONG

A 14-year-old British girl died from an act of self harm while suffering from the “negative effects of online content”, a coroner said Friday in a case that shone a spotlight on social media companies.

Molly Russell was “exposed to material that may have influenced her in a negative way and, in addition, what had started as a depression had become a more serious depressive illness,” Andrew Walker ruled at North London Coroner’s Court.

The teenager “died from an act of self-harm while suffering depression”, he said, but added it would not be “safe” to conclude it was suicide.

Some of the content she viewed was “particularly graphic” and “normalised her condition,” said Walker.

Russell, from Harrow in northwest London, died in November 2017, leading her family to set up a campaign highlighting the dangers of social media.

“There are too many others similarly affected right now,” her father Ian Russell said after the ruling.


“At this point, I just want to say however dark it seems, there is always hope.

“I hope that this will be an important step in bringing about much needed change,” he added.

The week-long hearing became heated when the family’s lawyer, Oliver Sanders, took an Instagram executive to task.

A visibly angry Sanders asked Elizabeth Lagone, the head of health and wellbeing at Meta, Instagram’s parent company, why the platform allowed children to use it when it was “allowing people to put potentially harmful content on it”.

“You are not a parent, you are just a business in America. You have no right to do that. The children who are opening these accounts don’t have the capacity to consent to this,” he said.

Lagone apologised after being shown footage, viewed by Russell, that “violated our policies”.

Of the 16,300 posts Russell saved, shared or liked on Instagram in the six-month period before her death, 2,100 related to depression, self-harm or suicide, the inquest heard.

Children’s charity NSPCC said the ruling “must be a turning point”.


“Tech companies must be held accountable when they don’t make children’s safety a priority,” tweeted the charity.

“This must be a turning point,” it added, stressing that any delay to a government bill dealing with online safety “would be inconceivable to parents”.

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