What Merrill Lynch Sees as the Major Social Media Trends in 2019

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The internet, and much less social media, is something that practically everyone uses on a daily basis, whether it’s posting tweets, sending snaps, or just updating a Facebook status. It connects us all. The brokerage firm Merrill Lynch looked into these trends and measured U.S. internet usage behavior across these media sites.

One of the main takeaways from its survey was that, in order, Google, Instagram, FB Messenger, Facebook and Yelp had the best ratios of users reporting stable to increasing usage rather than declining usage. Meanwhile, Tinder, Twitch and Snapchat had the highest suggested churn.

Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ: FB) usage ratio remains relatively positive, and this is still the most preferred social site, with 41% of respondents indicating they would select Facebook if allowed only one social networking site. However, this percentage decreased from 45% in Merrill Lynch’s last survey, and more respondents indicated Facebook ad loads were too high.

Separately, Google, or Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL), remains a utility with positive usage trends, with 95% of respondents indicating stable to increasing use of Google and as a virtual utility.

Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) penetration increased to 48% of respondents, and the percentage of users reporting deceased usage fell slightly. Also improving metrics in the 18 to 29 demographic suggest more younger users are turning to Twitter. About 9% of users indicated they planned to user Twitter more next year, up from 6% in the second quarter survey.

Instagram data was positive, with 44% increasing usage (the highest in the survey) and only 23% decreasing (second to only Google). Out of the respondents, 17% (up from 14%) selected Instagram as the platform they would choose if given only one. While continued strength in Instagram is a positive, data suggests usage is shifting from Facebook.

Merrill Lynch came to this conclusion with the report:

Google remains a utility with the most stable usage trends, and we maintain our Buy rating. Facebook data is constructive, but continues to trend less positively, while we continue to see traction for Instagram which appears to be capturing usage from Facebook. Twitter continues to have modest improvement in reported usage ratios (churn remains elevated) with growing penetration metrics and usage intentions.

Outside of this, respondents agreed overwhelming that data privacy matters. Over 89% of respondents reported data privacy as at least very important up slightly from 86% in the May report. Concerns surrounding Facebook and data privacy are consistent with the May survey, with 22% saying they plan to or have deleted Facebook, suggesting recent news has not amplified negative sentiment.