According to Facebook, in a study that they sponsored for IDC, their mobile app has become something like a public utility. The overwhelming majority of users between the ages of 18 and 44 are not only using it regularly, but almost obsessively. Almost all people who use the social network on their cell phones feel almost as connected to family and friends when using this app as they do when using text messaging or simply talking. Seventy percent of the respondents said they use Facebook on their phone, and among the Facebook users 61% are using it every day -- usually multiple times.
Almost all -- or 82% of users -- say they are reading their news feed in the app, and 49% say they are responding or posting comments on other people’s updates. And 38% say they are posting status updates. In fact, according to these numbers, the Facebook app is the third-most-popular application used on smartphones across both male and female demographics and Android and iOS platforms. While 78% of respondents say they use email on their smartphone and 73% are doing web browsing, Facebook is grabbing 70%.
Clearly taking aim at rival social networks, Facebook and IDC asked users when they access a range of social media apps during key moments in their day. Between 46% and 48% of users surveyed said they use Facebook while doing errands such as shopping, while preparing dinner, and at the gym during a workout, while only between 8% and 9% said they accessed Twitter during those mobile moments and only 1-2% accessed LinkedIn.
When it came to posting about specific events and activities, the survey finds a similar dynamic, with Facebook the most commonly accessed app during these moments by far.
The average daily time spent on Facebook is 32 minutes 51 seconds, with about one of every four minutes spent on communications activities. Activity peaks on weekends when the average time spent on Facebook is 41.6 minutes.
Look at Facebook -- all grown up and mobile now. Was it only a year ago when the company floated its IPO that we doubted its mobile advertising capabilities? Those with long memories will recall that in its prospectus for the IPO the company actually declared mobile to be one of its key uncertainties for the future. Here we see Facebook pressing its case as an indispensable utility for users that not coincidentally makes it a viable marketing platform.
The questions not asked in this survey are as revealing as the ones that were asked of the more than 7000 people surveyed. They were not asked about their comfort level with Facebook's newsfeed advertising on mobile, or their tolerance for what some of us perceive as an ever-growing number of ads in the newsfeeds. But just in the nature of the questions, we can see Facebook becoming increasingly sensitive to dividing mobile advertising share among the social networks. Just the other day, analysts predicted that Twitter would be reaping close to $1 billion a year for mobile advertising in short order.
Look for an ongoing shouting match between Facebook and Twitter over which of these social media services are dominant in given moments. For instance, while Twitter has the reputation for being a posting vehicle at events, Facebook tries to make the case here that people are accessing its network much more often in these venues. And ultimately, the battle over each social network's mobile value is more than just a fight over ad dollars. Twitter is expected to issue its IPO in short order as well. With the two big social media rivals both on the stock exchange, these questions begin to impact stock values.
The timing of this survey also fuels speculation that Facebook is about to enter the mobile operating system smartphone battleground more aggressively. According to reports issued yesterday, Facebook is planning an April 4 event at which it will roll out a customized version of the Android operating system that could run on an upcoming smartphone from the brand.