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Facebook Loses a Million Daily Active Users, Posts Big Revenue Result for Full Year 2021

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Facebook Loses a Million Daily Active Users, Posts Big Revenue Result for Full Year 2021


Meta has posted its Q4 2021 and full-year performance result, showing a rise in monthly active users, and significant growth in revenue, as it continues to evolve towards the next shift in digital connection.

Though there are also some concerns, with Facebook’s growth momentum slowing, even declining in some respects, which could reflect growing disinterest in that platform specifically.

First off, in terms of active users – Meta’s main social app Facebook rose by just 2 million monthly actives from Q3, the slowest quarter-on-quarter growth rate in its history.

But that’s not even the whole story – the bigger concern for Meta is in daily actives, where Facebook actually declined for the first time ever.

Meta Q4 2021 - Daily Active Users

As you can see here, Facebook did add users in the Asia Pacific and European regions, but overall, it lost a million actives.

Which is a lot. It’s difficult to get a real sense of what that means when the numbers are honed down to more compact metrics like those displayed above, but a million people decided that they no longer needed to check in on Facebook every day, and likely a lot more than that when you consider that it also added new users in some regions.

Is that a problem? I mean, as you can also see, Facebook usage has been stagnant in the North American region for some time, which most would put down to market saturation – everyone who’s going to use Facebook is now doing so, and there’s not many more new people to add in. But now we’re seeing the same in other markets, which could be a big issue for Facebook’s broader growth.

Which is why, of course, Meta’s more keen to highlight this stat instead, its ‘Family of Apps’ usage, which combines total unique users across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.

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Meta Q4 2021 - Family of Apps users

As you can see, across all of its apps, Meta actually added a million more users, which likely means that WhatsApp and Instagram are still growing.  Meta doesn’t break out individual usage stats for these apps, but broadly speaking, it maintains at least some growth momentum, and its apps are still the most used social media platforms by far, with close to 3 billion DAU.

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But still, the fact that Facebook saw a decline, especially over the Christmas period, when people are generally more active online, is a concern. That’s likely part of the reason why Meta announced its re-focus on younger users last year, and why it’s increasingly putting more emphasis on the metaverse and the next stage of digital connection.

Maybe, its evolving focus will reduce concerns around declining usage of its apps – though it will be interesting to monitor these stats moving forward, to see whether this is in fact an ongoing trend.

In terms of revenue, Meta posted another strong result, bringing in $33.6 billion for the quarter.

Meta Q4 2021 - Revenue

Which, again, is just an unfathomable number, really. For the full year, Meta generated $117.9 billion, with the vast majority coming from ads.

And for the first time, Meta has also provided full revenue split data between its apps and its Reality Labs division (AR/VR projects).

Meta Q4 2021 - revenue splits

VR sales jumped in Q4, bringing in $877 million, which is only a small fraction of overall revenue for the company. But still, as it eyes the next stage of immersive connection, that’s another key element to keep in mind, and you can expect Meta to put even more focus on this as those sales continue to rise.

And with its AR glasses also coming soon, you would logically anticipate those numbers to trend upwards in future.

Meta went through some big changes in Q4, most notably its corporate name change from ‘Facebook’ to ‘Meta’, signalling its shift in focus to the next stage of digital connection. That essentially sparked a whole new industry, with many investors and businesses now rushing to cash in on the metaverse opportunity, keen to avoid missing out on the next big thing, as many did with social media in the first place.

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In many ways, Meta’s name change legitimized a concept that doesn’t exist, and created a new, theoretical model, which has already seen billions of dollars change hands on the back of an experience which is not even close to being fully realized or built.

Indeed, Meta itself has re-stated many times that it will take years to establish all of the building blocks of the metaverse concept that it envisions. Still, that hasn’t stopped Web3 enthusiasts from considering new possibilities, with trends like NFTs tangentially connected back to the broader metaverse concept, even though we don’t know how it will work, and what it will look like just yet.

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What we do know, however, is that Meta is working to be at the forefront of what comes next, and with its developments in VR, AR and other advanced technologies, it does look set to be a key voice in that shift, which will likely see it dictate various aspects of advanced connection, and secure the company’s future moving forward.

I mean, we don’t know, because nobody knows how all of these elements will actually come together, but Meta’s certainly re-aligned its resources and entire company focus around the shift.

In terms of product developments, Meta continues to push ahead with its full messaging encryption plan – despite the opposition of many law enforcement groups in many regions – while its VR social tool Horizon Worlds is also evolving, which could soon become a key connection tool in the virtual space.

Meta’s also laid the groundwork for advanced digital avatars, which could define your presence in the metaverse shift, with avatar tools that can now be used across Facebook, Horizon, Instagram and Messenger in a range of ways.

Meta avatars

If Meta can create the best, most customizable, most interoperable avatars, that could be a big step in better aligning users to its platforms, which is another advantage of the company’s massive scale, with these avatar tools already enabling new forms of connection in the world’s most used social apps.

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Meta also continued to face more legal challenges, with the FTC winning approval to re-state its case against the company over its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, which the FTC claims were specifically aimed at eliminating competition in the market. That seems unlikely to result in the forced break-up of Meta’s various elements, which is what the FTC is pushing for, but it has seemingly opened the door to further investigations into Meta’s broader conduct, and how it’s looking to dominate the metaverse space.

Will that impede the company’s progress moving forward, or is Meta now in such a dominant market position that it likely won’t need to rely on acquisitions as much as it has in the past to win out the sector?

Really, its metaverse shift is also a way to re-align its entire market, which, going on current activity, is clearly working, and has clearly placed Meta at the top of the heap in the next stage of development, by combining various technologies under a broader ‘metaverse’ umbrella, of which Meta is the leading proponent.

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Will there really be a metaverse, as such, a singularly-aligned digital experience platform which will facilitate all kinds of activity in a fully-immersive space, or will it be a range of technological advances, in a range of ways, which Meta wouldn’t necessarily be leading on each front?  But by re-aligning it all under a single banner, maybe Meta has changed the game entirely, without us knowing, and everyone’s now trying to compete on a broader, combined shift which they’ll never match Meta on. If Snapchat, for example, launches the best AR glasses, will they gain as much traction if they’re not compatible with the amorphous ‘metaverse’ concept?

It’s interesting to consider Meta’s market power and influence in this respect, and how that could then translate into the next stage, and how potential competitors look to assess their ambitions when matched against Zuckerberg’s ever-growing behemoth.



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Facebook Adds New Groups Engagement Options, Including New Side Bar Access to Latest Group Updates

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Facebook Adds New Groups Engagement Options, Including New Side Bar Access to Latest Group Updates

Hey, have you noticed a sudden influx of notifications about Facebook groups in your News Feed this week?

You’re not alone, with Facebook kicking off a new push on groups, that will include a new, dedicated notifications space for groups in the sidebar of the app, and more options for smaller discussions within group spaces.

First off, on the new sidebar sorting option for groups – Facebook’s testing a new listing of the groups that you’re a member of that will be accessible by swiping right from your main News Feed.

As you can see in these images, the new listing will display all of the groups that you’re a part of, which will be displayed in order based on the latest activity.

The sidebar display will also include a range of group engagement options, including the capacity to pin your favorite groups, discover new groups, or create your own from the prompts. There’ll also be links to events, shops and more, making it easier to get involved in each groups element.

That could make it much easier to stay on top of the latest group chats, which could be a great way for Facebook to boost user engagement, and get more users sharing more often in the app.

Which has become a problem of late. Reports have suggested that Facebook engagement has dropped significantly, particularly among younger audiences, as TikTok interaction has continued to rise, with internal data from Meta showing that usage among users aged 18-24 has basically flatlined completely in the app.  

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Groups, however, remains a key engagement surface, and if Facebook can find new ways to showcase groups, and prompt more users to engage with those discussions, that could be another way to maximize in-app activity, even if they don’t feel compelled to respond to what they see in their main feed.

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In addition to this, Facebook’s also adding some new, smaller sub-group engagement options, with Community Chat Channels, audio rooms and topic feeds within group.

Community Chat Channels will enable group members to chat in real-time across both Facebook Groups and Messenger.

“So when you’re in your new BBQ lovers group and need real-time feedback while attempting your first brisket, an admin can create a chat for that.”

Facebook Groups update

So it’s messaging groups for Group members, adding another way to spark different types of engagement with the Groups setting.

Community Audio Channels meanwhile is Facebook’s own answer for Clubhouse, where admins and members can join real-time audio conversations in the app.

Facebook Groups update

Facebook initially launched its live audio rooms with verified public figures, creators and selected groups last year, but now, all groups will be able to host live audio rooms to facilitate topical engagement in the app.

Which is probably a little behind the times, given the declining interest in Clubhouse and other audio social options. But a big challenge for Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces has been discovery, and highlighting the most relevant rooms to each user in real time, which Facebook can improve on by only highlighting rooms to people who are already group members, ensuring more relevance for its live audio notifications.

Community Audio Channels will be available within Facebook Groups and on Messenger, providing alternate access points to tune in.

UPDATE: Facebook says that Community Audio Channels are different from Live Audio Rooms, with Community Audio Channels being an ‘always-on space’ that admins can create, in which admins and members can hop in and out of real-time conversations. Which, functionally, seems much the same, but Facebook has sought to clarify this point.

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And finally, Facebook’s also adding Community Feed Channels, providing a way to highlight more specifically relevant group discussions and elements to community members.

Facebook Groups update

“Admins can organize their communities around topics within the group for members to connect around more specific interests. For example, if you’re in a BBQ lovers group, there could be a feed channel where you can post and comment on the topic of smokers.”

So rather than getting every update from every group that you’ve joined, you’ll be able to select specific discussion topics that you’re interested in, with group admins then able to categorize posts and updates to feed into these more refined channels, and ideally improve engagement.

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They’re some interesting additions, none of which are likely to transform how you engage with Facebook groups, but each providing a more customizable, easy-to-access stream of groups to stay informed and interact with.

And again, if Facebook can better highlight the most engaging, most relevant groups and group content, that could be a great way to maximize the potential of its groups tools, which now arguable generate more engagement potential than the main feed.

You may not like the political content in your News Feed, or the updates from relatives and long-lost school friends. But maybe, through this, Facebook can show you more discussions within groups that you do want to see, which could help to boost time spent in the app.

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