Facebook’s results: 3 takeaways for PRs

Facebook reported its financial results for the quarter ending on December 31 2015 yesterday (January 27), highlighting its wide user base, with more than a billion monthly active users worldwide, its “strong quarter” and its plans for future projects.

While this has given the wider media industry something to talk about, as the network reported a total $5.8 billion in revenue primarily based on advertising, there are a handful of key points that earned media can take from the social network’s announcements.

Here are three key points from Facebook’s results and industry reaction to them:

Facebook is king in user engagement

The social network had 1.59 billion monthly active users at the end of last year. This is substantially larger than its peers, according to measurement platform Statista. It estimates that Twitter had 307 million monthly active users for the same quarter and reports that Tumblr had 555 million.

Speaking during Facebook’s earnings call, David Wehner, its chief financial officer, said: “In December, 1.04 billion people used Facebook on an average day, an increase of 17% compared to last year. This daily number represented 65% of the 1.59 billion people who visited Facebook during the month of December.”

The ‘like’ button is growing in capability

Prior to the network’s results, Bloomberg also revealed Facebook’s intention to expand its ‘like’ feature – the ‘thumbs up’ button that lets users (and PRs) decipher the value of their posts on the platform.

The new button is often referred to as ‘Reactions’ as it looks to let users express emotions such as ‘love’ or ‘anger’.

March Muhlenbach, CMO of Flapit- the social media service, said: “Facebook is launching Reactions to design an experience around feelings, comments and reactions that are elegant and fun, a way to give positive feedback and connect with things you care about. It also provides another way to engage and sustain its 1.04bn daily active users.”

Facebook is bringing VR to the masses

Like social media before it, virtual reality is set to have a big impact on the PR industry by providing new ways to pitch and to communicate information to consumers. Facebook is one of the first to provide these tools for mass consumption and the PRs need to keep an eye on what this will mean for the industry.

Speaking at the conference call, Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and CEO at Facebook, said: “This Oculus launch is shaping up to be a big moment for the gaming community. But over the long-term, VR has the potential to change the way that we live, work and communicate as well. The launch is an important step towards the future, and we’re really looking forward to seeing how people use it.”

Gorkana asked Red Hot Penny – a digital PR agency, how it uses Facebook and what it thinks would improve the experience and if Facebook’s new functions will make a change for them.

Ruth Elliott, digital marketing and brand executive at Red Hot Penny, said: “The main social media platform we work with is Twitter, closely followed with Instagram. This is due to both platforms’ popularity with editors and influencers.

“With that said, if one of our target publications shares our content on Facebook, the engagement levels go shooting up and as a digital agency that is our biggest goal,” she continued.

Elliott added there are aspects of the product that Facebook could improve for PR and comms pros. “For a long time now we have been including social media coverage in our reports to clients. Therefore, if Facebook easily displayed the top statistics relating to that coverage without us having to log in would be a huge benefit to us. At the moment we can only show the likes, comments and shares that have been produced following the post.”

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