A Rollercoaster Ride of Declines and Surprises of Social Media Usage in 2023

In a shocking change of events, the new GWI social media trends study finds that daily time spent on social media has dropped in 36 of 48 markets, demonstrating that even the virtual realm is subject to the whims of its users. In a world where "liking" used to be more vital than breathing, this is only the second occasion since the commencement of social media tracking in 2012 that global usage has decided to slow down.

It's almost as if social media consumption was on a diet, with average daily use in the first quarter of 2023 dipping below that of 2019. So, has the era of endlessly scrolling through cat memes and food pics reached a plateau? It's a "like" or "unlike" world out there!

You'd think Generation Z, the digital natives, would be increasing their social media usage, but apparently not. While some emerging markets are experiencing more dramatic swings in social media, most other areas have seen changes that make a sloth look fast. However, North America, ever the rebel, appears to be on a social media binge, with usage continuing to soar over its previous peak. It's as if they didn't get the notice that the rest of the world is preoccupied with other things.

The pandemic, which was the social media equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet, caused an increase in usage, but it appears that the Instagram influencers have put down their avocado toast, and things have leveled off.

For brands and businesses, this means the party is over – or at least less wild. Changes aren't about how long users linger in the digital realm; it's all about how and where they choose to spend their time. It's as if the virtual dance floor has become less crowded, and everyone's now into more exclusive, invite-only soirées.

When it comes to evaluating their social media habits, Gen Z appears to be leading the charge. These young bucks now spend an average of 2 hours and 51 minutes every day on social media, outpacing their elders. However, the cool kids are beginning to consider taking off their virtual party hats and venturing into the real world. In 2023, 30% of Gen Z are experiencing an existential crisis as a result of their social media consumption, prompting courageous efforts to reduce their time online. They are the only generation that has elected to unplug for a while, most likely as a result of the pandemic's disturbances. Who knew they'd become tired of incessant selfies and avocado toast photos?

Now for the narrative twist: users in some APAC and Western areas are suddenly turning camera-shy. They're making their social media accounts private faster than you can say "Instagrammable." Why, you might ask? They appear to be concerned about personal privacy as if this is something new. This practice is especially prevalent among younger age groups, making it more difficult for marketers to snoop on their user data. Instead of simply tracking their digital lives, this move encourages firms to create trust and meaningful connections with their customers. Who would have thought that individuals would seek privacy on a site that was once all about sharing everything?

Social media is still the place to find the latest must-have things, but marketers must stay alert. They must stay up with cultural trends or risk becoming as out-of-date as that aunt who still believes "cool" means something is cold. People are into minimalist aesthetics and neutral hues, as evidenced by TikTok trends such as #QuietLuxury. Everyone seemed to have had enough of showy outfits - perhaps they've finally understood sequins aren't appropriate for supermarket shopping.

Read next: The Social Media News Exodus From "Like" to "Unlike"
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