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Facebook Adds 100 Million More Users, Reports 11% Revenue Growth Amid COVID-19

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Despite COVID-19, an advertiser boycott, and an appearance before US officials over possible antitrust violations. Even amid these varied distractions and impacts, Facebook has once again reported steady growth in its latest earnings report, with the platform now exceeding 3 billion users worldwide across its ‘family of apps’.

First off, on users – Facebook added another 100 million monthly active users in the Q2, taking it to 2.7b MAU. 

Facebook Q2 2020 User charts

Facebook’s MAU growth rate has accelerated in the last two quarters – which makes sense, given that more people are looking for distractions amid the COVID-19 lockdowns. But again, given the outside criticisms and concerns, which have also included broader debate around Facebook’s perceived lax efforts in removing hate speech, you might expect to see an impact on Facebook’s momentum.

Not so, according to these numbers. 

As you can see in the chart, Facebook continues to see the majority of its audience growth in the Asia-Pacific market, with India, in particular seeing significant take-up as the developing nation undergoes its own digital shift. Facebook recently made a significant step towards maximizing its opportunities in the region by purchasing a stake in Indian mobile provider Jio, through which it will look to build an eCommerce platform within the Indian market, which could, eventually, make Facebook the key platform for the nation’s billion-plus of citizens.

Worth noting, also, that Facebook, via Instagram, recently launched its TikTok-clone functionality ‘Reels’ in the Indian market, after the Indian Government banned TikTok due to conflicts with the Chinese regime. India was, up till then, TikTok’s second-biggest user market, with some 200 million active Indian users at the time of its removal. That will present another opportunity for Facebook to boost its regional growth.

In terms of daily actives, Facebook is now seeing 1.8b individual log-ins each day.

Facebook daily active users

As you can see from the lower listing, Facebook also continues to see high engagement, with 66% of its monthly active users logging on every day, which has been consistent for several quarters. 

The only nuance missing here is time spent – while many people do log onto Facebook regularly, what would be interesting to know is actual time spent, per user, on the platform. Facebook doesn’t release this info as a matter of course, but having that additional context would provide a more accurate view of Facebook usage. The view, among many tech analysts, is that while people do check-in to Facebook to see what family and friends have posted, they’re actually now spending more time in other apps instead. 

That additional detail could help to better align ad spend with actual usage – which, really, is probably why Facebook doesn’t release it.

In addition to this, Facebook has also notably crossed the 3b user threshold, at least in terms of usage across its entire ‘Family of Apps’ – i.e. combined, individual active users across Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.

Facebook family of apps usage

It’s interesting to consider that, across the entire world, around 440 million users of Facebook’s other apps don’t access Facebook itself (2.7b MAU), and a lot of those, you would imagine, would be on WhatsApp, which is the dominant messaging platform in several major markets.

That means that Facebook still has significant opportunity to further monetize its other platforms, and reach unique users with more ad and business options. As yet, Facebook hasn’t been able to fully implement its monetization strategy for WhatsApp

In terms of revenue, Facebook saw an increase of 11%, bringing in $18b for the quarter.

Facebook Q2 2020 - revenue stats

Not bad, especially considering the slow down in ad spend due to COVID-19 and the current ads boycott, as noted. Of course, the impacts of that boycott won’t be evident till the next quarter, and Facebook has noted that it will see further impacts. It’ll be interesting to see exactly how significant those impacts end up being.

The company’s revenue growth, it’s worth noting, has slowed significantly, but overall, Facebook still beat analyst estimates. Shares in the company rose 8% on the release.

Looking ahead, Facebook says that it expects its third-quarter results to be largely in line with this report, though it does expect to see a slowdown in user growth. 

“More recently, we are seeing signs of normalization in user growth and engagement as shelter in-place measures have eased around the world, particularly in developed markets where Facebook’s penetration is higher. Looking forward, as shelter-in-place restrictions continue to ease, we expect the number of Facebook DAUs and MAUs to be flat or slightly down in most regions in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the second quarter of 2020.”

Facebook has seen ongoing user growth for some time, so it’ll be interesting to see the market response to a stalling in this respect, if indeed we do see such. 

Also interesting to note this chart:

Facebook Q2 2020 - revenue growth

Facebook’s ‘other’ revenue – i.e. revenue outside of advertising – continues to climb, which would largely be linked to the growth in sales of its Oculus VR devices and Portal smart speakers.

Back in April, Facebook reported that it was struggling to meet rising demand for Oculus headsets, while Portal sales have increased more than 10x during the global lockdowns. It’s still only a fraction of Facebook’s overall revenue pie, but both provide the company with not only one-off sales, but ongoing opportunities for connection, which could become more valuable over time.

The report reflects Facebook’s ongoing stability, which, despite the current protests, seems unlikely to be significantly impacted. While many big name Facebook advertisers have joined the current ad boycott, Facebook still has a large advertiser base – and while disrupting the company’s revenue flow may not have been the main aim of the protest action, it does underline Facebook’s sheer size and scope – which again, underlines the key emphasis of this week’s antitrust hearing.

An interesting point of note in this respect is that most of companies run by the tech CEOs who appeared before the House Judiciary Committee pushed back the release of their latest results till after the hearing. Facebook brought in $18b, while Amazon has taken in $88.9b for the most recent quarter, amid the pandemic, both beating analyst estimates. 

You can imagine that both results would not sit well amongst those considering their respective market dominance.

Either way you look at it, it’s an unfathomable amount of money flowing through each company, and definitely, there’s clear evidence that they use their size and scale to dominate their markets. Whether that will be reflected in the eventual findings of the House. we’ll have to wait and see.

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Tarte Influencer Marketing Criticized 01/31/2023

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Tarte Influencer Marketing Criticized 01/31/2023

With consumers obsessed over the price of a dozen eggs, could conspicuous consumption-driven influencer marketing falling out of favor? That is the question brands might be considering after the
backlash that cosmetics brand Tarte is receiving after a sponsored trip to Dubai. “Influencers were called out for appearing not …

Read the whole story at Marketing Brew »



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Twitter Applies for US Licenses to Facilitate In-App Payments

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Twitter Applies for US Licenses to Facilitate In-App Payments

Twitter has taken its next steps towards facilitating payments in the app, with The Financial Times reporting that the company has begun applying for regulatory licenses in US states, the next legal requirement for providing payment services in the app.

Payments, which Elon Musk has a long history in, could be another way for Twitter to generate revenue, by enabling transactions between users, from which it would then take a small percentage. Musk has repeatedly flagged his vision for payments as part of his broader push to make Twitter into an ‘everything app’, which would provide more functionality and usage benefits.  

As reported by FT:

In November, Twitter registered with the US Treasury as a payments processor, according to a regulatory filing. It has now also begun to apply for some of the state licenses it would need in order to launch, these people said. The remainder would be filed shortly, in the hope that US licensing was completed within a year, one of the people said.”

From there, Twitter would also look to establish agreements with international regulators to enable payments in all regions.

As noted, payments are a part of Elon’s broader plans for a more functional app, which would replicate the utility of China’s WeChat, which is used by Chinese citizens for everything from ordering groceries, to buying public transport tickets, to paying bills, etc. WeChat has become such a crucial connective element, that it formed a key part of China’s COVID response, with authorities using the app as a means to manage COVID positive citizens and restrict their movement.

Musk isn’t ideally looking to use Twitter as a control device (I don’t think), but the broader concept is to add in more and more functionality, in order to both generate more income for the company, and make the app a more critical element in the interactive landscape.

Twitter’s already exploring several options on this front.

Several app researchers have uncovered mock-ups for Twitter Coins in the back-end of the app.

Via Twitter coins, users would be able to make donations to creators in the app, through on-profile tipping, but beyond that, Twitter’s also exploring options like unlockable tweets, paywalled video, and more, as it seeks to embed broader usage and adoption of in-app payments.

A big opportunity also exists to facilitate remittance, or sending money to family and friends, which is a key use case in many regions. Remittance payment services often charge processing fees, and various social apps have been trying to find new ways to facilitate such without the same costs, with the idea being that once people are moving their money in-app, they’ll then be more likely to spend it in the same place.

Thus far, social platforms that do offer payments haven’t been able to embed this as a use case – but maybe, with Musk’s experience, knowledge and connections, he might be able to make this work in tweets.

Elon, of course, got his start in payments, with his first company, an online bank called X.com, being bought out by PayPal in 1999, his first big business win. And while his focus has since shifted to electric cars and rockets, Musk has keen understanding of the digital payments space, and how it can be adapted for varied usage.

According to reports, Musk told Twitter investors in May last year, that his aim was to see Twitter bring in about $1.3 billion in payment revenues by 2028.

That would give the company a sorely needed boost. After Musk’s cost-cutting efforts, which have resulted in the reduction of around 70% of Twitter staff, the company could be on track to potentially break even this year, or close, but a lot has to go right to get the platform back on track. And with advertisers continuing to back away from Twitter spend, it’s not looking good, while subscriptions to Twitter Blue are unlikely to provide much relief, at least at this stage.

As such, the shift into payments can’t come fast enough, though it’ll still be some time before we see the possibility of in-app payments.

Also, while Musk has made it clear fiat currency will be the main focus of this push in its initial phase, cryptocurrencies could also, eventually, be included. The price of Dogecoin, Musk’s favorite crypto offering, rose to a 24-hour high after news broke of Elon’s expanded payments plan.

Will payments be the answer to Twitter’s revenue woes? Maybe, if Elon’s vision for billions in payments revenue comes to fruition – and with his previous track record, you can’t dismiss the notion entirely.

But it’ll take time, many approvals, and many more steps before we reach the next stage.

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Social Responsibility And Ethics In Influencer Marketing

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Social Responsibility And Ethics In Influencer Marketing

Chief Growth Officer (CGO) at HypeFactory, a global influencer marketing agency.

It’s no secret that influencer marketing popularity has skyrocketed over the past couple of years, and partnering with influencers isn’t a new concept. Just over the past year, the industry was valued at $16.4 billion and still keeps growing, with a whopping revenue forecast of $143.10 billion in 2030.

Since the beginning of influencer marketing, people have talked about how influencers and social responsibility fit together. It stands to reason that influential people would use their large fan bases to help others. However, when influencers and businesses collaborate, they each have specific responsibilities to the communities in which they operate.

Sponsorship Transparency And Gender Stereotypes

One of the most critical skills for an influencer is honesty. Influencers base their marketing strategy on being genuine and sharing personal tales and thoughts with their target audience. They are not celebrities living in a bubble of fame that very few of their followers will ever reach; instead, they live lifestyles that are reachable and use items that their viewers would find helpful. This approach has significantly contributed to their immense level of success.

However, many influencers don’t play by the rules, especially when it comes to impressing brands they’ve made deals with, even though transparency is essential to the sustainability of an influencer’s career. Because of this, many people would think that the most important ethical issue in influencer marketing is sponsorship disclosure.

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the United Kingdom have all put out rules about how influencers should be honest in their posts and about their relationships with brands. If you disobey the regulations, you risk facing penalties, fines and legal bills. You also risk losing the trust of your customers for good.

Moreover, when doing influencer marketing, it’s essential to consider gender stereotypes and how people usually think men and women will act in different situations. The Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) has said that since June 2019, marketing materials could no longer show men and women in ways that are based on stereotypes. These rules state that ads “must not use gender stereotypes that are likely to hurt or offend a large number of people.” Great campaigns, like Nike’s “Dream Crazier,” have challenged gender preconceptions.

Improving Influencer Marketing’s Reliability And Authenticity

Authenticity is essential in influencer marketing. People listen to influencers who are honest and relatable. In addition to the moral problems I mentioned above, brands and influencers must also follow FTC rules, community guidelines and terms of service on social media platforms.

Based on my experience as a chief growth officer at a global influencer marketing agency, here are some things brands must consider for influencer partnerships that are authentic and reliable.

Outline—and stick to—the ethical principles that your brand stands for.

Before you can begin your search for the ideal influencers, you must first understand the core principles of representing your business. Most businesses start by determining their values and ethics early on. They then use these to build their brand identity. It’s up to each company’s brand to decide where they will draw the line and how they will show their core values on social media.

However, consumers place a high value on consistent honesty. Customers are likely to call out your company for being hypocritical if it says it wants to fight racism but then partners with an influencer who has a history of making small slights against people of color. Or if your company promotes equal pay yet pays female influencers less than it does male influencers, contributing to the continuation of the pay gap between male and female influencers.

As a result, you will likely lose the trust of these customers.

Collaborate with real influencers.

One of the most effective ways to stick to influencer marketing principles is by collaborating with real-life influencers. Choosing the right influencers is crucial for building consumer confidence in your product.

Determine which influencers are authentic and have credibility with your intended audience. Specifically, it would be best to look at how many people engage with their content and how good it is. Even though engagement numbers are essential, they only tell part of the story about an influencer’s reliability. Please pay close attention to their writing style, the brands they’ve worked with, the accuracy of their reviews, etc.

Develop a long-term partnership.

When you’ve found a group of genuine, influential people with whom you can collaborate successfully, it’s crucial to keep in touch with them over time. Even if they are paid to review a product, genuine influencers always give honest opinions. Because they follow all the rules, the spectator can have more faith in them.

Consequently, after a shortlist of influencers has been compiled, you should perform authenticity checks. Check their content feed for branded articles. Make sure that any disclaimers you find adhere to the first point’s disclosure guidelines. Consistently partnering with the same influencers demonstrates to customers that you value their brand’s success just as much as they do, which can increase consumer confidence in your business.

Conclusion

Authenticity serves as the cornerstone of the influencer marketing strategy. Influencers earn the trust of their followers and become successful when they always provide high-quality, authentic, relatable content.

In addition to the concerns over the morality of influencer marketing, brands and influencers must follow the criteria established by the FTC and the community guidelines and terms of service based on social media platforms. You can shield your brand from potential ethical and legal difficulties and still enjoy success with influencer marketing if you are aware of the expectations and follow certain best practices.


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