Facebook banks on growing eco-system as mobile tightens its grip

Facebook is still streets ahead of its social competitors in New Zealand with a user base of 2.4 million and an average of seven hours and 21 minutes spent a month by users, but the company is banking future growth on an expanding neighbourhood.

Getting its fingers into more pies is in large part about maintaining its power amid the shift to mobile. Last month’s acquisition of five year-old messaging venture WhatsApp is a case in point. The younger firm had more than 450 million users when it was bought and was fast-growing, taking first place over Facebook’s own Messenger app in that category of the mobile market.

Buying Instagram in 2012 gave Facebook a shot of credibility among hip young image snappers and was a logical addition when each network plays on the power of photo sharing.

Facebook also points to expanding choice for mobile users with the apps it develops itself. The iPhone offering Paper was evidence Facebook is designing specifically for mobile, allowing users to swipe through their news feed along with aggregated news content. That’s a very different experience to scrolling vertically on a desktop.

Part of the overhaul of its own Messenger app was making it easier to switch between Messenger and the general Facebook. service.

The social giant has been steadily growing the percentage of ad revenue that comes from mobile users. At the end of last year it had made more than half its ad revenue from mobile and reached 556 million daily mobile users.

The global message of creating a suite of apps and therefore a sweet spot among mobile users was echoed by Sydney-based Facebookers Helen Crossley, head of data and insights and trans-Tasman head of communications Antonia Christie when they met with StopPress recently.

They say burgeoning choice and the ability to share different types of content across different devices is part of a drive to tap mobile’s ability to make the most of the sort of personalised marketing we used to get before the mass broadcast era. That means to marketing to people rather than marketing ‘at’ people, they say.

Crossley and Christie touted Facebook as a partner for Kiwi marketers when it comes to using data to make their messages relevant and targeted.

“The reason data integration is so important is it’s the secret sauce that fuels relevance,” Crossley says. “It’s not just marketing, but how you can surface what a customer wants and everything that goes into building a better experience.”

Learning about customer preferences on mobile was important for companies as the the move away from desktops became an increasing reality, they said.

“It’s about learning that mobile device and the habits and what works and doesn’t work, so as consumption shifts towards mobile they’re ready to go.”

Image: Facebook, Q4 2013.

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