It’s my favorite time of the quarter again. The day when I go through half of the work I have done over the last three months and change one number by about 0.05. That might sound like a small change, but it has huge implications, because today is the day after Facebook announced its quarterly results. The number I am changing is the number of people who are active on Facebook every month and it is measured in billions. Yes, for the fourth quarter in a row – and without appearing to break sweat – Facebook has added the population of England (roughly 50 million) to its user base and there are now 1.59 billion people on Facebook. In two years, the number of monthly active users has grown by the population of the US – 320 million.
It’s not just people who are flocking to Facebook, advertisers are too. For the tenth quarter in a row Facebook beat analysts expectations, this time posting quarterly earnings of $5.84 billion. Shares in the company rose by 12% in response, which would be good at any time, but contrasted with recent market activity in the sector is incredible. This success is driven by success on mobile. 1.44 billion people access the site via mobile at least some of the time and more than 800 million of them solely using mobile. Mobile made up 80% of advertising revenue in Q4.
As Ken Sena, an analyst at Evercore ISI, points out, these results signify “the importance of what they’re providing to advertisers”. As a marketer the size of the audience alone is enticing, but it becomes even more so when you realise how engaged that audience is and how integral Facebook is to their lives. The evidence for this is in some of the other numbers that Mr Zuckerberg shared yesterday.
1.04 billion people are active on Facebook every day.
A billion people are on Groups
Half a billion people use Events each month
100 million hours of video are watched on Facebook every day
50 million small businesses use Pages
However, Facebook isn’t resting on its laurels, it continues its efforts to reach more people and to engage those already on the site. To do that it is changing one of the things that people associate most strongly with Facebook, the Like button. In the next few weeks, people around the world will get access to Reactions expanding the emotions they can express in response to posts to include angry, sad, wow, haha, and love. Some have suggested that messing with the Like button might be a risky step for the company – but after they’ve just smashed Wall Street’s expectations yet again, I won’t be betting against them.