Facebook released its earnings report for Q1 2015, with the latest updates to the largest social network’s statistics. Let’s see what changed!
Above, monthly active users (green bars) grew 3.37% quarter-over-quarter to 1.44 billion people. Facebook holds onto its title as not only the world’s largest social network, but the world’s largest virtual nation. The blue line indicates their growth rate, which ticked upwards a small amount from Q4 2014. When you think about it, that’s an astonishing feat. Continuing to show growth when you already have the market leadership and saturation is impressive.
Above, the Middle East and Africa represent continued growth for Facebook. What’s surprising is the growth in the EU; Facebook’s reach there is consistently growing about 2% quarter over quarter. For marketers with a strong international presence, this is good news.
Facebook’s a mobile giant. 86% of Facebook users access the service on a monthly basis at least part of the time on mobile devices. If you’ve got Facebook traffic coming to your digital properties, you’ve got mobile users. What’s really stunning is this figure, highlighted by the red bars and the blue line:
The blue line represents the number of people who access Facebook SOLELY on a mobile device monthly. The red bars show the percentage of all Facebook users this represents. In short: 40% of Facebook’s users – 2 out of 5 – use Facebook on mobile devices only.
While at first glance, it would appear that there’s a dip in Facebook’s revenue, this is a seasonal pattern. Facebook, on a quarter-over-quarter basis, always looks worse off in Q1 due to the high spend in Q4 for consumer retailing. The drop in Q1 2015 is steeper than normal. It’s worth noting that APAC’s regional revenue didn’t take nearly the decline that other regions did. If you’re a marketer with a focus on APAC, this is a tidbit worth noting – the APAC revenue engine appears to be stronger for Facebook.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg made some interesting remarks that hint at the future of Facebook and what marketers should be prepared for. In the prepared remarks, he noted that Facebook now handles over a billion searches per day. That’s an impressive number; in 2014, Google processed an approximate 5.7 billion searches per day. That makes Facebook a serious contender in the search engine wars with effectively 17% of Google’s search volume.
When was the last time you did a generic search in Facebook? When was the last time you searched for your company? Are you showing up there? With 17% of Google’s search volume, could your business afford not to check?
Video, unsurprisingly, is Facebook’s latest play, with 4 billion daily views. It wasn’t clear how many of the views are autoplays, but 4 billion is still a large number. For reference, YouTube passed the 4 billion daily view mark in 2012, only 3 short years ago.
As a marketer, do you cross-load your videos to each platform? The next time you publish a video, consider doing a large-scale A/B test. Load a video to both Facebook and YouTube. Set an equal budget – even as little as $50 per platform. Use AdWords and YouTube Video ads to promote your video on YouTube. Use Facebook sponsored posts and ads to promote your video on Facebook. See which video wins in terms of total eyeballs.
Finally, in case you held out hope that Facebook would make things easier for businesses without paying, COO Sheryl Sandberg dashed the final remains of those hopes in her statements:
Our second priority is growing the number of marketers using our ad products, and we’re making great progress… More and more small businesses are using our free Pages product – and we remain focused on converting these Page owners into advertisers.
Plain. Simple. Clear. Facebook wants businesses to pay to be seen. Prepare accordingly. New technologies like Ad Relevance Score (which resembles AdWords Quality Score, Conversion Lift, and Dynamic Product Ads all are intended to get you to spend more on Facebook. The good news is, if you become proficient with these tools, you should see a positive return on your ad investment.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology