WhatsApp has seen a 40 percent increase in usage due to the COVID-19 pandemic – TechCrunch
Social media usage has increased as a result of the COVID-19 crisis as more and more users go online to keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues. Now new data from the insights and consulting company Kantar shows exactly how much some apps benefit. WhatsApp is the social media app that has seen the biggest gains due to COVID-19, according to a survey of more than 25,000 consumers in 30 markets conducted March 14-24.
Overall, Facebook-owned WhatsApp saw a 40% increase in usage, up from an initial 27% in the early days of the pandemic to 41% in the mid-stage. For countries already in the later phase of the pandemic, WhatsApp usage has increased by 51%.
In some markets, this usage can be even higher, Kantar noted. For example, WhatsApp usage in Spain increased by 76%.
Across all messaging platforms, usage growth was greatest in the 18- to 34-year-old age group, the study also found. In addition, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram saw usage increases of more than 40% from the same demographic.
Other social media apps that are growing during the pandemic, unsurprisingly, include Facebook and China’s WeChat and Weibo.
Overall, Facebook usage is up 37% while China’s local social media apps are up 58%, Kantar says.
Despite the gains, consumers said they didn’t trust their social media platforms for critical news related to COVID-19. National news channels and government agency websites were seen as better options, with 58% and 48% respectively of respondents citing them as a “trustworthy” source of news and information. In contrast, social media platforms were rated as “trustworthy” by only 11% of consumers.
Kantars isn’t the first study to report the growth in social media activity attributable to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Facebook recently shared its own data and found that the total number of messages on its platform was up more than 50% compared to last month. This includes Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp together. It is also claimed that the time on all apps has increased by 70% since the crisis and the time on group calls (three or more participants) has increased by more than 1,000% in the last month.
In addition, the views of Instagram and Facebook Live doubled within a week, Facebook said.
While this isn’t exactly an apple-to-apples comparison, Facebook metrics confirm Kantar’s report of significant growth in March related to the pandemic. The company also talked about preparing its infrastructure for this unprecedented use. Previously, Facebook was able to stay stable during major events like New Years Eve or the Olympics, but now it has sustained record usage that has required reducing bitrates on Facebook and Instagram videos and increasing capacity as needed.
In this context, another report by the influencer marketing platform Klear compared the week of March 7th to 14th with the week of March 15th to 21st to examine more precise Instagram user behavior. It found that users posted an average of 6.1 Instagram Stories per day, which is a 15% increase over the week. The impressions of stories, i.e. views, also increased by 21% during this time.