What Times of Day Are Key Social and Messaging Apps Most Heavily Used?

February 4, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Mobile Phone | Social Media

Nielsen-Daily-Multipurpose-App-Usage-Trends-Feb2016Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Twitter all show similar usage curves during a typical day, though Tumblr tends to see heavier usage in the late evening and early morning hours, reveals Nielsen in a recent analysis. The figures indicate that 6PM is the peak hour for Facebook Messenger, while Twitter and Instagram usage are highest at 7PM and 8PM, respectively. Tumblr use, which is lower during the traditional work hours, peaks at 10PM.

The figures are based on share of total minutes spent, which is the percentage of total minutes spent on an app during the reporting month that took place in that given hour across all days. For example, the results indicate that slightly more than 6.4% of total Tumblr usage during the month occurred at 10PM.

The apps show more differences in usage when sorting by share of unique audience. This metric measures the percentage of all unique users in the reporting month who used the app at least once in any given hour any day that month. For Instagram, users were most likely to sign in at 8PM (also the heaviest hour of usage), with almost 57% doing so at least once during that hour. Facebook Messenger use is most commonplace at 5PM (~55% of unique users signing in at least once then). Interestingly, Tumblr – which is most heavily used at night – was most commonly used at 10AM, with roughly 46% of unique users using the app at least once during that hour. Twitter, meanwhile, tends to draw a smaller share of unique users than the other apps at most hours of the day, with the largest share (42%) using the app at least once at 6PM.

In looking at the differences between Facebook Messenger and Snapchat, Nielsen finds that Snapchat usage is more heavily weighted towards the afternoon and evening hours, peaking at 6PM with 6.1% of total usage. Snapchat users appear to be more heavily engaged with the app than Facebook Messenger users: a greater share of its users signed in at least once during the month at each hour of the day. Snapchat use appears to be most common at 8PM, when more than two-thirds (68.7%) of users signed in at least once. By comparison, a relatively smaller 55% of Facebook Messenger users signed in at least once at 5PM, the most common hour for Messenger use.


Finally, in analyzing daily email app (and Kik) usage trends, the report shows that Gmail and Yahoo show very similar usage curves throughout the day, with a tendency to start increasing at 5AM before reaching a peak 11AM. MS Outlook users for the most part show similar usage patterns, save for a spike at 3PM. Kik usage, though, peaks first at 4PM before hitting another – larger – peak at 9PM.

Overall, Nielsen reports that 79% of wireless subscribers in the US text in general, with adult smartphone users spending 4 hours and 39 minutes on communication apps each month.

About the Data: Nielsen’s Electronic Mobile Measurement (EMM) is an observational, user-centric approach that uses passive metering technology on smartphones to track device and application usage on an opt-in convenience panel. Results are then reported out through Nielsen Mobile NetView 3.0. Nielsen’s on-device software, which is installed with permission on panelist smartphones (approximately 9,000 panelists ages 18+ with Android and iOS handsets). The panelists are recruited online in English and include Hispanic, African-American, Asian-American, Native American and Alaskan Native, and other mixed racial background consumer representation.


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