By adaptive - February 5th, 2014
With Facebook turning ten, can the leviathan of social media continue its dominance, or is Facebook on the wane?
As you read this Facebook will be ten-years old. "It was a great end to the year for Facebook," said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. "We're looking forward to our next decade and to helping connect the rest of the world."
Indeed, Facebook has had a great fourth quarter of 2013 seeing revenues rise by 63% to $2.59 billion, with advertising revenue over the same period topping $2 billion. Almost half of this came from mobile advertising revenue that looks set to further rise this year.
For corporations, Facebook as a marketplace also remained buoyant with 757 million users in December with 556 million users accessing their accounts on mobile devices. Overall, Facebook posted revenues for 2013 of $7.87 billion – up 55% over the previous year, with ad revenue nearly ($997 million) reaching one billion dollars.
The master stroke of purchasing Instagram enabled Facebook to ride the wave of content sharing that has increasingly become image and video based. The $1 billion that Facebook paid for what was then a loss-making enterprise now seems inspired.
Like the future
Facebook as an ad platform has also been performing well, finally returning the investment that many brand owners have made in the platform. According to the latest figures from the Adobe Social Intelligence report, Facebook ad CTR is up 365%, with CPM also up by 437% with Adobe advising: “Advertisers face an increasingly complex optimization challenge that requires balance between fixed cost (CPM) or transactional cost (CPC) models. They should keep a close eye on rates and optimal strategies to deliver maximum ROI.”
And specifically in the UK and Europe, CPC is up 111% in U.K. and 25% in Europe year-over-year. CTR is up 14% in U.K. and 172% in Europe year-over-year. And CPM is up 48% in U.K. and 61% in Europe year-over-year. Facebook also recently announced its Custom Audience Ads mobile app that it hopes will further these figures on the burgeoning mobile platforms it seems as its destination over the long term.
Adobe concluded: “Social media channels are picking up steam and have their eyes on capturing a greater proportion of search dollars. The real race will not be between social media channels, but between marketer’s allocation of dollars across search, display, and social. Social media, however, risks alienating users while it courts marketers. We’re sure to see some missteps along the way, but by 2015, we should expect to see a balance between content, advertising, targeting, and privacy that marketers and users can all live by.”
Facebook has also been innovating with the arrival of Paper, which Facebook describe as: “Paper makes storytelling more beautiful with an immersive design and full screen, distraction-free layouts. We’ve also made it easier to craft and share beautiful stories of your own. Your Paper is made of stories and themed sections, so you can follow your favorite interests. The first section in Paper is your Facebook News Feed, where you’ll enjoy inspiring new designs for photos, videos, and longer written posts. You can customize Paper with a choice of more than a dozen other sections about various themes and topics—from photography and sports to food, science and design. Each section includes a rich mix of content from emerging voices and well-known publications.”
The positive figures posted by Facebook will be a welcome relief to corporations that have of late been reading headlines stating that teen and young adult users have been leaving Facebook in droves. It seems that as a platform, Facebook is now entering its next phase of maturity and not surprisingly, its user base will continue to evolve.
Facebook is clearly experiencing the same development trajectory that other social media platforms have in the past. Pew Internet summed this up when it reported: “According to our survey, 94% of teen social media users said they had a Facebook profile, and 81% said that Facebook is the profile they use most often. While other platforms—like Twitter and Instagram—are growing in popularity, teen usage of Facebook still dwarfed every other platform at the time of our survey.”
However, tellingly: “Our research has found teens to be fickle social media users; just six years ago, 85% of teens with profiles said MySpace was their most frequently used account. (Only 7% do today.) But Facebook is arguably a much different animal, and has become more deeply integrated across multiple generations, multiple platforms and devices, and multiple spheres of public and private life.”
Corporations clearly need to take the ebb and flow of the social media zeigiest and ensure their messages are timely and well targeted. Whatever happens with Facebook, and whoever their users evolve into, all corporations just need to ensure they listen to their social media networks, and continue to create engaging content that wants to be shared. If corporations can consistently do this, it doesn’t matter whether the average Facebook user is 17 or 70.
June 2014, New York
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