Little did Mark Zuckerberg know when he launched Facebook in 2004 that it would make such a large global impact on people. Facebook leads the number of logged in users as compared to YouTube’s 1.5 billion and Twitter’s 328 million as it crosses the billion monthly active user milestone in 13 years.
In a post on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said, “As of this morning, the Facebook community is now officially 2 billion people! We're making progress connecting the world, and now let's bring the world closer together. It's an honour to be on this journey with you.”
By 2010, Facebook had reached 500 million users and crossed the one billion and one and a half billion mark by 2013 and 2016, respectively.
Given the rising number of affordable smartphones and the continuous optimisation of the app for these smartphones, it has become easier for the social media giant to add to the numbers and grow considerably over the years. The increasing penetration of internet can also be credited to the increased use of Facebook among people from various age groups.
In 2011, Facebook worked on the idea of Facebook lite for less smarter phones after the acquisition of Snaptu, an Israeli start-up that had made its own version of Facebook for such phones. This technology did not require high speed internet or a cutting-edge smartphone and thus Facebook lite was somewhat a success with such users. In February, Zuckerberg had announced that Facebook had reached 200 million users in countries like Nigeria, Vietnam and Bangladesh.
In an effort to bring the platform closer to people, Facebook also launched a mission “Bring the world closer” just last week. The mission aims at giving the power to build a community and bring the world closer. More than one billion people around the world use Groups, and more than 100 million people are members of “meaningful groups.” These are groups that quickly become the most important part of someone’s experience on Facebook. Facebook has set a goal to help one billion people join meaningful communities like these.
Recently, Facebook recorded a revenue of$8.03 billion wheremobile counts for 85% of the ad revenue, compared to 84% last quarter, accounting for $6.7 billion in ad revenue. Facebook earned $3.06 billion in profit in Q1, up 76% year-over-year while revenue grew 49% year-over-year. The social media platform managed to slow the decline of its games payments business, with it earning $175 million in Q1 compared to $180 million last quarter and $195 million in Q3. Facebook stopped reporting mobile-only users.
Headcount grew to 18,770 people, up 38% year-over-year. Facebook’s total costs were $4.7 billion, giving it a 41% operating margin, down from 52% margin last quarter.
The platform’s focus on the developing world with apps like the 200 million-user Facebook Lite, recently rolled-out Messenger Lite and new Instagram offline modes are paying off. Average revenue per user in the Rest of World region hit $1.27, up 40% in a year.
We spoke to a few industry experts and asked them how they see Facebook as a dominant force in the digital space and what the scope of improvementisfor the social media giant.
Sanjay Mehta, CEO, Mirum India, says, “It’s amazing that a simple platform like Facebook can be such a massive hit and reach such phenomenal numbers. It is also good to see how it has gained traction in terms of spending time on the platform and sharing content. What is significant is how Facebook is using behaviour and the data collected to understand the ad perspective and also looks at audiences and their demands. More people means more data collection by Facebook to improve the user experience.”
When asked the kind of changes he could expect from Facebook, he adds, “If at all Facebook faces some withdrawal by the users it could be because of its intrusive nature at times as compared to Snapchat. With targeted ads and personal data collection it becomes difficult for people to feel the privacy on the social media platform. The next phase of growth is to sustain the user base and also add to it in countries such as India or Africa where internet penetration is still not on full potential.”
Gautam Mehra, Chief Data Officer at Dentsu Aegis, says, “I knew that Facebook would reach the milestone by the end of this month and it doesn’t surprise me. It is no more a social media platform but the single largest sign-on platform in the world. Not even Google can match that scale. It is a platform with real people and real pictures; it is simply like the Aadhar card of the world. However, there should have been more competition to Facebook so that marketers could have more options. The quality of third party data promoters is very poor around the word, especially in India, but this is Facebook. The numbers are not going down and there is no stopping it. It reaches to such a large non-English speaking audience and reaches out to the regional audiences very well.”
He adds that he would like to see Facebook being a little more open. “Facebook is about everything in the inside and nothing about the outside. It has its own wall garden. That said, even Amazon or Google have it but not as much as Facebook. It needs to share more data. We have heard reports that they plan to go programmatic,” he says.