Social networking now accounts for one in every five minutes spent on the internet. This is one of the many insights outlined in comScore's '2016 Cross-Platform Future in Focus' whitepaper, which examines overall traffic data and how it relates to a range of web and digital trends. The data's primarily based on comScore's MMX Multi-Platform measurement system, which translates de-duplicated audience size numbers, demographic composition and engagement performance across more than 300,000 digital media entities. Using comScore's wide-ranging data tools, the whitepaper examines the key trends and behaviors driving digital consumption in 2016, including the adoption of social channels and mobile devices, and how those advances are re-shaping our wider communications landscape.
And as noted, one of the key findings in relation to social, specifically, is that one in every five minutes spent online is now dedicated to social networking, with messaging also one of the top elements in that mix.
As noted by comScore:
"The strength of this category, along with Email and IM, highlights that one of digital's primary functions is for communication - now more so than ever with the rise of mobile."
On the rise of mobile, comScore notes that digital audiences to the Top 1000 web properties increased to an average of 16.8 million visitors per month in 2015, with mobile overtaking desktop as the primary driver.
In fact, in terms of time spent, digital media usage has increased by 35% since 2013, driven entirely by mobile growth.
Looking at social more specifically, comScore's data shows that the majority of social media usage now occurs via mobile apps, accounting for 61% of all social media time spent among U.S. users.
And interestingly, while some have suggested that Facebook is losing younger audiences to newer, shinier players like Snapchat, comScore's data shows that that's not quite the case. And by 'not quite', I mean, 'not at all'.
As you can see, Facebook's way out in front in terms of both reach among 18-34 year-old users and average monthly minutes spent, leading Snapchat on the latter front, with Instagram not far behind. The numbers also suggest that Vine remains something of a niche network, while also reflecting Twitter's current woes in generating engagement.
When you look at the data for users aged 35+, the numbers skew even further in Facebook's favor.
The demographic composition of each network is better highlighted in this graph, which underlines just how dominant Snapchat has become to younger users - an important trend to note, particularly as those consumers move into more lucrative consumer brackets.
comScore further underlines the rising importance of Snapchat with this chart, showing that more than three in every five 18-24 year old internet users now actively use the app, with use among older brackets also on the increase.
LinkedIn also saw an uptick in usage throughout 2015, with the biggest increase among Millennials.
And one other interesting note - while the narrative around Twitter right now is pretty bleak, comScore data shows that unique visitors to the platform did continue to increase over 2015. There was a tail off at the end - which aligns with when much of the bad news around the service really started to kick in, but still, it's not all doom and gloom for the little blue bird.
The data provides some interesting insights into how social is progressing and how audience attention is shifting to both mobile apps and social connectivity. Much of this only reinforces what you'd expect, though it's interesting to note the true presence of Facebook, and the very real numbers behind the rise of Snapchat. In the case of the latter, the question then is whether Snapchat will be able to maintain the attention of those younger users as they grow-up, whether popularity among younger users is a true indicator of eventual mainstream adoption. Given the innovations and advances Snapchat's putting in place to, effectively, grow up with their audience, it definitely has the potential to do so - this is no doubt why high-profile industry identities like Gary Vaynerchuk are so high on the app.
The full comScore '2016 Cross-Platform Future in Focus' whitepaper is available here, and it includes a heap more insights into media consumption habits across all mediums. Definitely worth a look.