It’s only February, but 2018 is not looking good for Facebook. The network now appears to be on the same side of the Russian debate as Donald Trump (!), Snap’s fortunes are suddenly looking bright and growth trends are not falling in Facebook’s favor.
Indeed, after analyzing some digital content consumption data from Nielsen, Pivotal analyst Brian Wieser was struck by continuing erosion in Facebook’s share of usage. That includes a decline for its flagship property on an aggregate basis and a more significant decline on a per-user basis.
Despite a 6% increase in users, Facebook lost 4% in aggregated time spent -- reflecting an 11% decline per person -- from November 2016 through November 2017.
These per-person declines have been relatively consistent during each of the four months for which Wieser has comparable year-over-year data.
Not surprisingly, Instagram fared better with a 44% increase in time spent amid a 13% increase in usership, during the same period.
Unfortunately, with one-tenth the volume of activity of Facebook’s flagship app, Instagram’s growth does relatively little to change the company’s fortunes. Including Facebook’s core app, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, Facebook achieved just 4% growth, year-over-year.
Industrywide, the company’s share of digital consumption fell from 18.2% in November 2016 to 16.7% in November 2017.
By contrast, Google’s YouTube, Google and Waze combined to account for 28.6% of all time on digital media, last November -- up from 23.7% in November 2016.
Time with other Google properties rose by 45% in November, and, on a combined basis, increases in time spent on Google-related properties exceeded 70% of all increases in time with digital media.
Snap still only accounted for a 1.5% share of digital consumption in November 2017 -- up from 1% in November 2016.
Perhaps suffering a fate worse than Facebook, Twitter recorded a 14% decline in digital consumption. It only account for 0.8% of digital consumption in November 2017 -- down from 1.1% in November 2016.
For the record, Facebook says it’s happy about the decline in time spent on its platform. CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said it was a direct result of ongoing changes to Facebook’s News Feed, which include promoting more “meaningful” content and user engagement, while discouraging passive video viewing and lower quality content.
“The most important driver of our business has never been about time spent itself,” Zuckerberg told analysts on Facebook’s fourth-quarter earnings call. “By focusing on meaningful connections, our community and business will be stronger over the long term,” he insisted.
During the fourth quarter, Facebook said total time spent declined by 5%, which amounted to about 50 million hours daily.
And atleast in the short term, Zuckerberg admitted that all the changes to Facebook’s flagship service would “significantly impact our profitability.”