The biggest story of course, was their acquisition of messaging service Whatsapp for the staggering sum of $19 billion. The figure took a lot of people by surprise but the reasons behind both the valuation and it’s importance in the future plans of the social media giant are clear.
Facebook have been keen to get their hands on a platform targeted at a younger demographic for some time now, witness the failed attempt to purchase Snapchat last year, and by acquiring Whatsapp, they have finally got their wish.
Whatsapp has over 400 million active users and it is predicted that the user numbers will grow five fold over 10 years. Whilst the service is free to use for most (some users paying a nominal $1 per year), and with no adverts within the app, many have questioned how Facebook will monetize these users.
The answer is simple, data, and more importantly, the mining of it for advertising purposes. So don’t be surprised when you have a conversation about a band on Whatsapp and then are targeted with an advert for that band on Facebook.
This kind of cross platform ad serving is the future and has been going on for years now, just ask Google! For those with Big Brother fears however, there are several alternatives, check out Viber, Kik or WeChat, all of which are multi-platform and provide a similar service without the Big F creeping into your conversations.
One of the many clever things about Mark Zuckerberg is that, not only can he spot a great opportunity, he knows when to call it quits and so this month also saw the end of the line for a one of Facebook’s stuttering products.
The ill fated Facebook Mail has been wound up, the plan of owning the user’s inbox hasn’t quite come to fruition for them this time but don’t be surprised if there is another attempt down the line. Despite surreptitiously changing everyone’s default contact email address to a [email protected] format; it never caught on and has, rightfully, been drawn to a close. Anyone who previously was an active user of the service will now find their mail re-routed to their primary email address.
February also saw an update to the Facebook news feed algorithm. As of last week, when a Page tags a separate brand or celebrity Page in a post, that content will be highlighted in the timelines of fans of both parties. In short, this will be a great way for brands to expand their reach and boost their audiences.
Having trialed the feature already amongst regular users, Facebook received positive feedback and have now applied the same feature to Pages. Whilst this is great for brands trying to expand their reach, as a user, you can expect to see new brands and pages that you don’t follow cropping up in your news feed soon!
If you would like a refresher course on putting Facebook to work for your business, Bill McCartney, Net4WiseOwls is holding a Facebook Workshop on March 27 in Belfast. Click here for details