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New report: Instagram user growth slowed in 2019 — and will keep slowing

By Katie Coelho

New report: Instagram user growth slowed in 2019 — and will keep slowing

According to a new report from eMarketer last week, Instagram's US user growth rate dropped to single digits for the first time in 2019, falling to 6.7%.

eMarketer also stated that “growth will be at 4.5% in 2020, revised down from 5.4%, and in 2021, it will be 3.2% instead of 4.1%. Contributing to Instagram’s overall slower growth is the fact that older age groups are not joining the platform as quickly as anticipated.”


Does all of this mean that it’s time to start searching for the next platform to reach your audience, assuming this slower growth means the start of Instagram’s death? Not quite yet. 

Though growth may be slowing for new user rates, Instagram is expected to have generated $9.45 billion in ad revenues in 2019, which is expected to grow 46.6% to $13.86 billion in 2020.

According to Pew Research Center, both Facebook and Instagram pull away from the pack and continue to dominate user numbers


Even if Instagram is growing more slowly than other social media websites, it still clearly dominates the market and user interest. 

So, what does this eMarketer data tell us?

Will Instagram’s slower growth affect your future?

The data is telling us that older user growth is one of the main reasons for Instagram’s overall slowdown. 

This tells us that either Instagram isn’t doing as well of a job enticing or increasing awareness amongst this age group, or that this market for this app is tapped. 

This could mean the platform has a shorter life expectancy than previously planned or that changes could be coming to the platform to pique users’ interest to jolt growth. 

So while it’s important to be aware of what this data could mean for the future, all of this is a drop in the bucket for now. 37% of US adults use the platform daily (that’s about 93 million Americans), and it’s not expected to fall off anytime soon. 

So, while this isn’t a red alert claim from eMarketer, it’s a trend that should be closely monitored to ensure that marketers are utilizing the platforms that are best for reaching their audience, especially going into a new year with new growth goals. 

If Instagram growth is slowing, which social platforms are growth superstars?

Two in particular we’ll highlight are TikTok and Snapchat

Late last year, TikTok surpassed 1.5 billion downloads in the App store and Google Play combined. Though historically Facebook and Instagram have a larger user base, it’s hard to ignore TikTok’s insane year over year growth. The majority of this platform’s users are under 30 — and it has not come without backlash.

In addition, Snapchat had a few years of slower growth, but in 2019 the app pulled in many new users, for a 13% growth year over year. 

User retention for both of these apps is also significantly higher than the social average.


The interesting thing about both of these platforms for marketers is their ad platforms and growth of ad revenues. More and more marketers are using these two apps in particular to reach targeted audiences.

Both of these platforms are successfully growing, reaching new users, and keeping those users engaged for longer — something that shouldn’t be ignored by marketers. So, it’s not surprising that Instagram has adopted features that mimic these platforms over the past few years

But the bigger question is this: where are the older users going? If it's not Facebook or Instagram, and it's definitely not TikTok, are they abandoning social media? We’ll have to wait for further reports as they become available to understand this shifting marketplace.

All in all, while Instagram’s slower growth in 2019 doesn’t mean imminent doom, it should make us all aware of the social media industry, new trends, and potential areas of opportunity for 2020 and beyond. 

Marketers should continue researching new platforms or ways to reach their target market because there’s one fact that’s undeniable: social reach and advertising on social platforms isn’t going away anytime soon. 

Free Assessment:

How does your inbound marketing measure up?
Take this free, 5-minute assessment and learn what you can start doing today to boost traffic, leads, and sales.


Social Media Marketing
Instagram Marketing
Published on January 10, 2020

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