With a decline in active users, Facebook has turned its attention to other areas such as video, messaging and offering internet access to impoverished countries.
This post is by Robbie Edge, social media manager at MEC.
Facebook has been the giant of social media for some time and while that shows no immediate sign of changing, a decline in active users of the site has prompted it to pursue several new avenues.
One of those is video, a content type traditionally viewed as an under performer on the platform in comparison with imagery, but one that is increasingly becoming a core part of Facebook's ad strategy. Currently, Facebook video is reported to get roughly three billion views a day, 65% of which originate from mobile devices, with 53% driven by sharing. While three billion is a big number, YouTube was gaining 4 billion views each day back in 2012, so Facebook still has a way to go if it really wants to become more of a threat. The platform has, however, experienced an increase in video output from its top brands, celebrities and media companies after some big changes made in 2014 – such as newsfeed autoplay as well as deeper analytics. More content marketers have begun uploading video directly to Facebook, particularly for small- to medium-sized enterprises who posted twice the number of videos directly to Facebook in 2014 than they did in 2013.
Other changes being made include giving access to an improved API which will allow publishers greater control and information on their videos (allowing for bigger file sizes and greater targeting) as well as a new video management platform that will allow publishers to edit and share clips quickly. In addition to this, they have recently enabled companies to embed their videos on other websites in a bid to gain more off-site presence. Facebook video, though, as of yet does not offer the same quality of resolution and also does not allow for monetisation, meaning that for avid social media influencers, YouTube will still likely be the preferred choice. However, for brands who want to quickly reach a defined audience with proactive content, it may prove a more intelligent option.
Facebook's Messenger is another ambitious service that is being expanded in order to help it gain a firmer grip on global conversations and social interactions. As well as providing traditional messaging capabilities, it will also allow developers to add a messenger button to their apps, which will enable all kinds of content to be shared that much easier. This will also allow users to download third-party apps directly within Messenger. A number of partners are already creating bespoke apps for the platform in the hope of gaining visibility in a crowded marketplace – and with the peer-to-peer payment feature recently being implemented, we could well see increased interest from businesses and developers over time.
Finally, and perhaps most ambitiously, is Facebook's internet.org service, which provides internet access to impoverished areas of the world by working in partnership with mobile operators and governments. The service provides limited internet access to certain websites (Facebook, BBC, Wikipedia etc.) on mobile devices at no charge.
Some have argued that Mark Zuckerberg is just pursuing this goal to further Facebook's growth, but even so it initially seemed that everyone would benefit. That is until recently, when a number of partner companies withdrew from the service in India over net-neutrality concerns. Activist group Save the Internet has said that internet.org is an “ambitious project to confuse hundreds of millions of emerging market users into thinking that Facebook and the internet are one and the same” and, in response, Zuckerberg has emphasised that providing access to the entire web would unfortunately not be viable due to costs.
It's easy to empathise with both sides, but until a more democratic solution is reached that doesn't restrict users to a limited array of sites then the service will likely continue to be met with controversy.