BI Intelligence, the subscription research service of Business Insider, has published a report looking at “how much time social media is now occupying in Internet users’ daily lives and how time-spend is distributed across different networks.”
The report states that American Internet users spend more time on social media than on any other Internet activity. Additionally, 60 percent of the time that these users spend on social media is via smartphones and tablets.
And when it comes to the success of the the different social networks (aka anything NOT Facebook)? LinkedIn, Pinterest and Tumblr have increased user engagement on their mobile sites and apps in 2013
The BI report also found that although users increasingly consume social media on mobile, desktop is still the place where users prefer to interact – post, comment, and share.
So where does this leave Facebook? Right.At.The.Top.
Facebook’s Enormous Lead
The social network is the leader in user engagement. Time spent on Facebook accounts for 114 billion minutes a month in the United States alone. Engagement on Twitter, by comparison, is seven times less.
It appears that the winner in the competition for your attention is, without a doubt, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
It comes as no surprise to see Zuckerberg at the top of the list. We’ve seen Facebook expand and expand since it was founded in 2004. Now, with it’s latest acquisition, Zuckerberg might be looking to cement Facebook’s place on your phone and in the social media wars.
Just last week Facebook announced its plan to buy WhatsApp Inc for jaw-dropping $19 billion, the biggest pay for a venture-backed startup ever. WhatsApp, a messaging platform that allows you to exchange messages on mobile devices based on different operating systems like Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS, has 450 million active users, most of whom are young and use the service daily. It’s a cash-and-stock acquisition, Facebook’s biggest, that makes WhatsApp roughly equal to Gap Inc in market value.
Zuckerberg was criticized by many analysts for grossly overpaying for a company that made only $20 million in sales last year. But look closely and you’ll see how it makes sense. It’s not a secret that Facebook is losing its popularity among teenagers who are constantly looking for the next cool thing, and to win the engagement war Zuckerberg urgently needs younger users who will be engaging with the company for many years in the future.
And let’s not forget that WhatsApp users are all mobile – they come from the dominating and growing platform. Zuckerberg himself justified the large sum by saying that WhatsApp has the potential to reach one billion users. The deal will also allow Facebook to compete against other new social services attracting younger users like Snapchat.
No one knows what exactly is happening in Zuckerberg’s head or what information he has but from a strategic point of view it could be true that spending $19 billion only to keep WhatsApp from the prying hands of Google and Microsoft is justifiable. Or maybe that’s simply the best thing for Facebook right now, to invest—most of the money will be paid in Facebook stock that is trading close to its all-time high.
No matter how you look at it, Zuckerberg and Facebook seem to be the winners in social media. They have the big lead and they’re making bold steps to keep it.