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Facebook's value to users is continuing to dwindle

Tyrone Stewart

The Facebook app is no longer seen as indispensable for mobile usersThe Facebook app is no longer seen as indispensable for mobile users as instant messaging and visual content sharing apps continue to gain momentum while the social media giant’s reputation continues to be damaged.

An AudienceProject study of more than 13,000 people from across the US, UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland found that Facebook’s reputation as the ‘must-have’ app is declining at a fair rate. In Q2 2017, Facebook was viewed as the most indispensable app in the US by 26 per cent of respondents. As of Q3 2019, this has declined to 21 per cent. In the same period, the UK saw a decline from 32 per cent to 23 per cent. There were also significant declines in Denmark (30 to 24 per cent), Sweden (22 to 13 per cent), Norway (32 to 21 per cent), and Finland (30 to 23 per cent).

WhatsApp is considered the most indispensable app in the UK (27 per cent), Germany (18 per cent), and Finland (53 per cent). Meanwhile, in the US, Instagram jumped from the fourth most indispensable to second place between Q2 2017 and Q3 2019, with similar rises also occurring across the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland.

As has been established for quite a while now, young people don’t have any affinity to Facebook. The research found that people aged between 15 and 25 in the UK put Facebook in joint last place (16 per cent) behind WhatsApp (27 per cent), Messenger (22 per cent), Instagram (20 per cent), and Snapchat (16 per cent). For the same age group in the US, 26 per cent value Instagram the most, followed by YouTube and Snapchat, both at 20 per cent, while Facebook sits on 18 per cent. In Germany, just six per cent chose Facebook behind WhatsApp (14 per cent) and Instagram (eight per cent).

There appears to be differences in gender as well, with females tending to view Facebook as being indispensable far more often than men across the US, UK, and Finland, with Germany having a more balanced look to it.

When looking specifically in the context of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, almost a third of users surveyed considered completely binning the social network (34 per cent in the UK, 29 per cent in the US, 28 per cent in Sweden, 27 per cent in Finland, and 25 per cent in Germany). Looking once again at the 15 to 25-year-old age group, the regard for Facebook fell more sharply, with 37 per cent of young people in the UK considering deleting the app, 38 per cent in Germany, 31 per cent in Sweden, and 29 per cent in Finland.

Despite all of the above, Facebook remains the most used social media app in all the markets studied by AudienceProject, except for Germany and Finland. Usage does, however, continue to decline.

“Social media continues to dominate app usage across all markets; however, we are seeing a shift in the type of social media that is capturing user attention. Whilst still indispensable to many, Facebook’s importance has declined significantly across every market. Instead, we’re now seeing instant messaging and visual content sharing apps taking centre stage. This underlines the clever investments Facebook made in WhatsApp Messenger and Instagram,” said Rune Werliin, chief product officer at AudienceProject.

“The diversity of app and social media usage creates an obstacle for many brands and agencies trying to reach their target audiences as well as to measure the effect. Therefore, it’s important for brands, publishers and agencies alike to have deep insight into the ever-changing and evolving patterns of consumer app and social media usage and behaviour, ultimately to better their engagement and boost campaign performance.”

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