State of Social Media Q4 2015: Half of Facebook Users Go Mobile Only

The largest social network in the world – practically a planet unto itself – released its Q4 and 2015 calendar earnings. Let’s see how Facebook closed out 2015. One change from previous State of Social reports: our charts are now interactive and embeddable. Hover over any data point to see exact numbers.

User Growth

Facebook’s overall growth slowed, quarter over quarter, to just under 3%. Total monthly active users ended just shy of 1.6 billion people, at 1.591 billion:

Note the brown line below: the only region which showed monthly active user growth was Facebook’s European division.

Mobility

Facebook’s users closed the gap a little more between total monthly active users; a full 90.63% of Facebook’s monthly active users use a smartphone or other mobile device to access the service at least part of the time, shown by the orange bars:

What’s stunning is the next number: over half of Facebook’s monthly active users only use a mobile device to access the service, shown by the red bars below. Note the mobile-only orange line; mobile-only usage continues to increase vs. overall users.

Revenue

In case you were worried about Facebook’s long-term prospects, it’s fair to say the behemoth stands on solid ground. Facebook grew fourth quarter revenue in every region, but the United States and Canada (the blue line below) really exploded:

On a quarter-over-quarter basis, Q4 was Facebook’s best revenue growth quarter in years:

What does this mean for you?

First, discard any claims that X group or Y demographic has fled Facebook. Whether or not they think it’s “cool”, Facebook is the Internet’s front page for a significant portion of the planet. Facebook must be part of every communications strategy in some way, no matter how small, because Facebook is where all the people are.

In the conference call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg placed heavy emphasis on video, citing 100 million hours of video watched daily. Zuckerberg also noted Facebook’s testing of suggested videos, indicating that how well you complete your video’s title and description will have greater importance. He also made mention of a dedicated Facebook video destination. Instagram got some video love as well, with the new video channel on the service.

Zuckerberg made mention of WhatsApp and Messenger as growth opportunities. He cited integration with Uber and payment gateways as additional functionality; if you make use of these services now, look to add integration with Facebook’s messaging platforms if you can.

COO Sheryl Sandberg acknowledged the mobility shift; she attributed Facebook’s incredibly strong Q4 revenue to mobile holiday ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. Sandberg also pointed out marketers who optimize videos for a compelling visual experience – without audio – in the first 3 seconds do extremely well in the news and ad feeds. She described case studies where retail marketers used multichannel Facebook ads – video, retargeting, product carousels, etc. – to achieve 20x ROI during the holiday shopping season.

Sandberg also emphasized measurement; all marketers running ads on the Facebook platform should be using Facebook Pixel and Conversion Lift to supplement direct response metrics (like clicks) as part of a Facebook advertising strategy.

What should you do next on Facebook?

If Facebook is the front page of the Internet for millions of people, consider how you’ll nab your slice of attention.

Have you rolled out video ads?

Have you tried shooting an immersive video?

Are you integrating multiple ad types together?

Are you crossing the streams, using Facebook and Instagram together?

Do you have a plan for virtual reality?

Consider how much money, time, and effort you’ve invested over the years in SEO to “reach page 1” in Google’s search results. Be willing to invest just as heavily to reach the new page 1: Facebook.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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Posted on January 28, 2016 in Facebook, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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