As Snapchat dwindles... what’s Facebook’s secret sauce?
The numbers don’t lie. Facebook retains its status as the number one social platform. In the 15 years since its launch, the landscape of communication and how humans relate with one another has changed drastically. The company however continues to successfully keep pace with these evolving consumption and communication behaviors.
That being said, you could boil the secret sauce down to this: Facebook actively anticipates functions and features its users will want based on growth and popularity of new external platforms, then executes them well internally within their platform of an already over 2 billion active user base.
One App for Everything
Why have multiple platforms to consistently need on hand when you could have just one? Facebook is likely hoping that if you can use one app to meet multiple communication needs and curate the social presence you want, then it can cut out competing apps like Snapchat.
Facebook Stories are the perfect example of keeping up with user needs. Stories are a content sharing format where users post photos or short videos that disappear after 24 hours. Pioneered and launched by Snapchat in 2011 with just 127 users, the platform now has over 190 million daily active users. Recognizing the market for it, Facebook offered Snapchat $3 billion in 2013 for the platform, but the company declined. Facebook’s family of products has been competing for years with Snapchat for both users and advertising dollars.
After then getting to work on their own Stories, Facebook’s Q1 results two years later have people buzzing - and for good reason. The company announced last month that Facebook Stories, which officially rolled out in 2017, has now accrued over 500 million daily active users, which matches the number of daily active users on its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms. That means that approximately 1.5 billion people are engaging with the company's Stories feature.
In addition to the growth of Stories, Facebook announced a major redesign of their app that will focus on making it easier to interact in groups who share your interests and find more events you'd want to attend. Citing that more than 400 million of the company’s 2.37 billion active users are already participating in groups, the redesign will encourage more users to connect with like-minded people and participate in private messaging.
This current update is the app’s fifth as it continues to try to chip away at the competition by having two distinct qualities that buoy its position:
- A well-designed app that delivers an effective user experience by being easy to navigate
- An all-encompassing platform that allows users to post updates, create and join groups, directly message, share pictures with filters, host and participate in live video streams, post on Stories, respond to events, etc.
Whether Facebook and Snapchat developed platforms that fill a societal need or whether their ubiquity has influenced behavior that has become the cultural norm, is up for debate. What’s not, is the fact that these social platforms are prolific, valued, integral and profitable aspects of their users’ social experience.
People want to be seen, heard and connected. Successful apps like Facebook give people a resource where they can target and connect with family, friends, groups and businesses through multiple channels for varied reasons – whether to chat with an old friend, post a live video of a business announcement, contribute to a forum on a volunteer page, post a family selfie, ask for travel recommendations, or share a special event they're currently at through stories, all carry value.
It is very wise to anticipate both the current and future needs of your network before those needs are fulfilled elsewhere. Mobile allows for a wide range of interaction and abilities. Knowing how to take the best of what is out there and organize it into one optimal resource is key for lasting engagement and user loyalty.