We’re all aware that Facebook isn’t as cool as when it first was, especially among younger users, but it also continues to be a key platform for many. Its capacity to keep people updated on key happenings from friends and family likely ensures that many continue to return to the app daily, likely for many years to come. However, the creme-de-la-creme is that Facebook usage is increasing, according to internal insights by The Wall Street Journal.
Facebook Bounce Back
As the WSJ reports:
“Data gathered in the middle of the fourth quarter showed that time spent on [Facebook] was up worldwide, including in developed markets, over the course of a year.”
It does seem a bit unusual, given TikTok’s subsequent rise, and short-form more generally. However, Facebook has been able to successfully use the short-form video trend to drive usage, despite much criticism of its highly TikTok-like Reels feature. True enough, Reels consumption is up 20%, becoming a key element in Meta’s resurgence.
So, just how is Meta finding success? Increased investment in AI, which has driven considerable improvements in the relevance models that fuel both Reels and its ads, which are also currently driving better response. On Reels, Meta’s systems are getting much better at showing users Reels content that they’re most likely to be interested in. Reels might have been a bit too successful in recent times:
“Because ads in Reels videos don’t currently sell for as much as those sold against regular posts and stories, Reels’ growing share of content consumption was denting ad revenue. To protect the company’s earnings, the company cut back on promoting Reels, which lowered watch time by 12%.”
Again, while Meta has been criticized for essentially pilfering TikTok’s format, It has once again shown, like with Stories, that it’s a beneficial pathway to keeping users engaged in its apps. It might come off as tacky and lazy, but replication does work, at least in this scenario.
For marketers, this resurgence is likely due to the development of Meta’s AI targeting tools for ads. Over time, many performance advertisers have been increasingly recommending that marketers trust Meta’s AI targeting, with newer offerings like Advantage+ driving strong results, with less manual targeting effort. Advantage+ puts almost total trust in Meta’s AI targeting systems, which may feel like you’re ceding too much control, but Meta believes that its continued AI investment is now driving better results.
It’s likely worth considering in your process, but it’s now all good news, Meta does also note that while time spent in its apps is on the rise, creation, and engagement is declining, with fewer people posting on both Facebook and Instagram.
So, while Meta is driving more engagement from Reels, which draws on content from across the app, as opposed to the people and Pages that you follow, it has also led to a decline in user posting. In short, Meta relies on these signals to help refine its ad targeting. In essence, despite all of the reports of Facebook’s demise, it’s far from being dead. If you’re out to diversify your social marketing spend, then don’t count Facebook out just yet.