State of Social Q1 2016: Facebook hits 54% mobile-only use

The largest social network in the world – practically a planet unto itself – released its Q1 2016 earnings. Let’s see how Facebook closed out the first quarter of 2016. 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 bounced back up in Q1 by 3.71%, no small feat when you’re at saturation in large markets. Total monthly active users ended at 1.65 billion people:

All regions bounced back in terms of user growth, but Europe’s growth is showing two quarters of solid gains:


Facebook’s users closed the gap a little more between total monthly active users; a full 91.52% 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. Essentially, Facebook is the world’s leading mobile platform:

What’s stunning is the growth of the next number: 54% 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 and how sharply it’s increasing; mobile-only usage continues to increase vs. overall users. If you ever had any doubt about Facebook’s commitment to mobile, this should erase it:


Facebook saw, as every advertising company sees, a dip in Q1 compared to the fourth quarter. Advertisers pull back budgets, especially B2C advertisers, after the holiday season’s gluttonous spending. The only region that’s not showing robust growth is the Middle East/Africa:

On a quarter-over-quarter basis, Q1 was proportionally the same as 2015’s Q1:

What does this mean for you?

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, 1.65 billion of them. That truly is a planet. Even if Facebook’s core platform isn’t where your target demographic is (unlikely), you will find them on a Facebook property – WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, etc.

In the conference call, COO Sheryl Sandberg continued Facebook’s heavy emphasis on video, announcing automatic captions for video ads, presumably powered by their AI investments. Facebook is also now serving 3 million businesses with its ad platforms. Wondering why your ad budget doesn’t stretch as far? You’ve got 3 million competitors aiming for the same eyeballs.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared the golden age of video, with Facebook’s continued investments in Live video, 360 degree video, and VR. He also made mention that Instagram’s algorithmic timeline has been rolling out slowly over the first quarter. Brands/accounts with low engagement might not be seen as frequently. Are you focusing on engagement in your Instagram posts?

What should you do on Facebook?

Look carefully at Facebook’s 10 year plan, as shown previously at their F8 conference:

F8 roadmap

Any organization that wants to win market share, awareness, leads, and sales will need to tightly integrate marketing and development. If you are a marketer who never talks to a developer at your organization, you are a liability to your organization rather than a benefit. Conversely, if you and your developers are having beers once a month or once a week, chances are you are well set up for success in the new digital ecosystem.

You will need development and marketing technology to integrate video, artificial intelligence, and content together seamlessly.

Marketing technology is no longer optional. To be fair, it was never optional to begin with. If you don’t have a developer, get one – even if it is only a part-time contractor. Think you can’t afford a developer? There are plenty of developer exchanges online, and many students in school who you could work with in an internship role.

In the next few years, marketers who do not integrate code and content will be as out of date as marketers who don’t understand the web or mobile. Be ready. The future will be here sooner than you think.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology


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