It’s good to absorb stats. How many active users does Facebook have? How many Tweets there were during X-factor? The online marketing industry is full of them.
But the more interesting question is always: why? Why are people doing what they do?
So when I can, I ask people. Not people in the industry. No, I mean normal people. People who couldn’t care less about CTRs, series C valuations or mobile app installs.
At a family gathering on Sunday I took 5 minutes to speak to L. L is 22, a recent graduate, works in retail and lives in Kent.
What she said
L used to have Facebook on her phone (an iPhone 5) but deleted the app. She said there was ‘too much going on’ – the newsfeed has too much information. She doesn’t want to spend the time going through it.
Her friends use Twitter a lot, but personally she doesn’t.
L loves Instagram for instant sharing of photos with a message. She uses the app for that. She didn’t know anything about their changing T&Cs, or that Twitter doesn’t play so well with it any more.
For instant messaging, L uses Whatsapp.
People like L want to share instantly. It’s about being in the moment. That’s why Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter are popular apps. They’re good for private sharing (e.g. DMs, one-to-one messaging) and group sharing.
As businesses, Whatsapp is mobile only; Instagram is mobile first and Twitter is orientating itself around mobile.
Facebook has struggled with mobile, and the news feed is more of a news digest. It’s not what L or her friends want (though personally I love it).
I’ve long been a fan of Whatsapp. In my opinion, it effectively killed Blackberry’s and BBM’s popularity with the younger demographic. It is a huge component of ‘dark social‘.
Of course, we didn’t even talk about desktop usage. That says something important too.
I think the boost of promoted/sponsored content in the mobile app newsfeed has put a lot of people off and FB did highlight that in their previous earnings announcement.
It certainly annoyed me in December as it was too much and too repetitive.
The younger demographic are using FB but more as vehicle for their private chats and group action, which is instant and bypasses the news feed. It will be interesting to see if FB can keep pace of the changes usage of the ‘platform’ 🙂
Agree about the mobile ads. FB’s ad serving desperately needs better frequency capping and rotation.
Younger people moving away from FB presents a revenue challenge from FMCGs who are trying to build lifetime brand habits. But having hundreds of millions of older active users who actually have some disposable income is no bad thing.