Recently Facebook announced its Q2 earnings¹, smashing all predictions and demonstrating a steady growth rate. The announcement came on the heels of Facebook’s 10-year plan presented in April.
Facebook now has 1.7 billion monthly active users, with 1.1 billion people using it every day. This, and its glowing Q2 figures, highlight the fact that even though the network is aging, its users keep coming back. It’s a poignant testimonial to the network’s power to understand its audience, anticipate consumer behavioral changes and deliver products to match.
In the Q2 earnings presentation, Facebook representatives once again hinted at what the future will bring for the social network and how will this will influence marketers. Here are some of the most important highlights that marketers should pay close attention to:
#1 – Mobile (advertising) continues to grow
This statement comes as a reinforcement and a factual backup of Sheryl Sandberg’s statement regarding the Facebook Q1 results²:
“Marketers now realize that if they want to reach their customers where they are, mobile is essential. Our conversations with clients have shifted from if they should market on mobile to how.”
With 1.57 billion monthly mobile users, Facebook provides a clear signal to marketers that the shift to mobile has already happened. Marketers need to think, act and be(come) mobile first now.
With advertising also shifting to mobile, marketers wanting to make the best use of their budgets need to start considering the specifics of mobile. Both in terms of technicalities (post look-and-feel, mobile-friendliness, targeting based on mobile behavior, etc.) and creativity (mobile-first content and campaigns).
#2 – Focus is on short-form content
The rise of short-form content is a direct effect of the shift to mobile and shortening consumer attention spans. Mobile users check their phones on average 150 times daily, spending around 177 minutes all together, usually for little more than a minute each time³. Such brief and scattered windows give content marketers very little time to grab audience attention. But on the plus side they also present an opportunity for the development of new and highly creative forms of content.
Facebook itself is continually innovating its mobile-first experience. Publishers can create faster-loading and more immersive content on Instant Articles, while advertisers can embrace the power of storytelling by using Video and Canvas Ads. In addition, more than four million 360 photos have been shared on Facebook since the launch of the technology.
It’s crucial that marketers resist the urge to treat mobile as a second-hand distribution channel. A simple web-mobile adaptation is not enough. What sets mobile apart is the user experience, which means marketers must create and develop content to match.
#3 – Time spent on Facebook increasing thanks to video
More and more people are spending their time on Facebook, and this is mainly due to the popularity of video. Just scroll through your feed for a moment and you will clearly see that the shift from text and photos to video is well underway.
With the popularity of short-form content, video could well be the solution for marketers to deliver more substantial information than could otherwise fit into under three minutes. With Live, Facebook has given its audience the option to become real-time, allowing viewers to witness events as they happen. It’s proven a hit, with viewers spending on average more than three times longer watching a Facebook Live video than a non-live one.
Those are some pretty staggering stats. Zuck even goes so far as to predict that in the next five years most of what people consume online will be video.
#4 – Sharing behavior is heavily influenced by higher mobile usage
There’s more information demanding our attention now than ever before. This has spurred the growth of new types of communication where text has given way to visual elements such as emojis, gifs and video – the idea being to allow us to consume more in relatively less time. Mobile, and subsequently video, has empowered us to do just that, while at the same time heavily influencing our sharing behavior, engagement and content consumption.
This is an essential development for marketers to consider when crafting social strategies. Engagement has always been a chief goal of social media managers. But to achieve it we need to understand how consumer behaviour is changing and evolve our brand’s messaging and output accordingly.
#5 – Facebook will become video first
Video first, front and center is clearly the direction Facebook is moving in. By encouraging posts to be natively published on their platform, together with the introduction of Live, Facebook is clearly stating its intention to become a content hosting hub, with perhaps even search on the cards.
With their repeated statements about the importance of video and how it will affect user behaviour on Facebook, the network is giving brands the chance to start experimenting more with the medium to figure out the best tactics.
#6 – Brace yourself – paid search will (probably) come to Facebook
Facebook is currently in what they call “phase 2” where they are still mapping out and understanding user search behavior. People use Facebook to interact organically with brands and search is an important part of that process. The specific queries, steps and results involved in the search stage can give brands highly informative insights into how people regard them. It could also be a golden opportunity for brands to expand their advertising efforts, and target people based their search patterns.
Facebook says monetization will come in “phase 3” – and search will most likely be commercialized. So brace yourselves, social marketeers, and start reading up on those SEO/SEM principles. Better to be prepared than in the slipstream of other brands.
The revolution coming to our feeds
Facebook has long influenced shifts in the marketing industry. The company has done a great job of meeting user-needs such as newsfeed changes and content prioritization, while offering innovative ways for publishers, marketers and advertisers to reach audiences with quality content.
By focusing on more immersive content formats and keeping mobile close to its heart, Facebook is signaling yet another revolutionary change – one that’s already on well on its way. So now is the time to think how your brand can adapt, and start thinking mobile and video first.
Your customers are checking their phones this very moment. Will they find your brand there?
— Falcon.io (@FalconIO) September 11, 2016