It is difficult to underestimate how critical social networks have become to our lives. Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, and SNAP alone reach just under 4 billion monthly users, have become the central pillar for how individuals communicate with each other, and even, increasingly, how we engage with brands and companies. Even beyond their day-to-day impact on our lives, the businesses behind these platforms represent hundreds of billions of dollars in market cap.
The result is a seemingly ever present desire to understand these platforms, how they are impacting our world, and what this means for our way of life, social, political, and economic order. As more and more voices grapple with these questions, speculation and hype can often outpace reality. So what’s actually happening online with social networks? SimilarWeb, an online and app traffic insights company, tasked its insights team to take a look at some of the biggest trending stories from a data perspective to find out what’s real and what’s hype.
1) #deletefacebook is a thing
Hype. People are not deleting Facebook. The social media giant’s traffic has remained along a steady path and when taking in the full FB ecosystem – Messenger, Whatsapp, Instagram — Facebook Inc. is still the absolute king .
WhatsApp and FB Messenger are the top messaging apps in 89% of countries worldwide, Facebook is still averaging nearly 6 billion visits every month in the US – compared to less than 1 billion per month for Twitter, and Instagram is installed on almost half of US Android devices. Looking at US traffic through April –a rocky month for Facebook news-wise– shows stability without any marked change. Calls for better privacy policies –which even FB itself is now seeming to advocate– may certainly be warranted, but drawing a direct line between #deletefacebook and Facebook’s actual business performance would be inaccurate.
2) SNAP will never really compete with Instagram.
Hype. It is definitely too early to rule out continued SNAP growth and the app is actually experiencing a period of increasing relative strength. While it is still far behind Instagram in overall numbers – 46% of all Android devices compared to 26% – Snapchat is actually getting more downloads over the last year than Instagram.
Considering their audience skews younger with 42% of their users between the ages of 18-24, the potential for increased growth and a reduced gap is fairly high. Much has been made of the challenge of innovating when Instagram can just replicate any move, but the focus on innovation is clearly resonating with core audiences. While a challenge to any component of the Facebook ecosystem is guaranteed to be difficult, SNAP’s growth seems to indicate they may have the capacity to be a worthy challenger to Instagram.