Facebook has released its fourth quarter and calendar year 2014 earnings report. The social networking behemoth revealed some interesting facts for marketers and communicators to digest:
Above, monthly active users grew 3% quarter-over-quarter to 1.393 billion people. Facebook’s user base is now larger than any nation’s population. The red line indicates their growth rate, which has stabilized in the 3% range since 2013.
While total growth has held at 3%, individual regions are growth at different rates. Asia/Pacific is Facebook’s hottest region, with growth at 5.4% (above, green line). US and Canada growth has been flat since mid-2014. Why? 300 million Americans and Canadians are online. 208 million of them are on Facebook. Facebook has reached saturation and future growth will be modest increments.
The number that continues to astonish: mobile users. The blue bars above are monthly active users who access Facebook part of the time on a mobile device. Mobile active users has ballooned to 85% of Facebook users. More than 1 in 3 Facebook users accesses the service only through a mobile device, as shown by the red bars above.
Facebook’s momentum isn’t confined to users. Quarterly revenues jumped 22% to $3.594 billion (above, blue bars); Q4 was their most lucrative quarter ever.
Feel like you’re seeing better ads on Facebook? The improvements to report ads you don’t like or don’t want to see has worked. Facebook’s ad revenue per user jumped 18% to $2.58 per user (above, blue bars).
While Facebook has sluggish user growth in the US and Canada, it’s deriving more revenue than ever from us. Revenue in US/Canada (above, blue line) and Europe (red line) continues to outpace the rest of the world.
Looking ahead, CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined Facebook’s key initiatives in the next 3, 5, and 7 years. Zuckerberg highlighted the continued importance of visual content. Facebook now shares 2 billion photos a day and 3 billion video views per day. Zuckerberg remarked that the balance of updates to Facebook has shifted to photos and visual content instead of text. COO Sheryl Sandberg said that users now share 75% more video because of the mobile revolution.
In the 5 year timeframe, Zuckerberg expects to roll out more search and messaging products. He cited that Messenger now reaches 500 million monthly users, or about 36% of the user base.
Facebook’s pitch to businesses, marketers, and communicators is “people-based marketing at scale”. This is the most clear statement they’ve made to date about how Facebook differentiates its marketing capabilities.
When you search on Google, you’re searching for “what”: what’s the best taco place nearby? What’s the average rainfall in the Congo? What’s the best public relations agency in San Francisco?
When you search on Facebook and other social networks, you’re searching for “who”. Who do you know that can help you solve a problem? More important, as veteran marketer Mitch Joel says, who knows you? How findable are you as a person? How findable are the people who work at your company?
Being found for who you are is the heart of people-based marketing. What should you do to improve your chances of being found?
- Help your people (and yourself) get found.
- Make your people known for what they do.
- Teach your people how to get seen, how to network.
- Guide them in developing their professional personal brands.
Facebook’s explosive growth is an implicit endorsement of people-based marketing. Adapt your marketing and communications practices to the new world order. It’s Facebook’s world (for now); we just live here.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology