Why Facebook is Dominating Despite Media Coverage

Kristopher Saber
Jan 14, 2019 · 5 min read

2018 was the year that Mark Zuckerburg got tested as a CEO. It’s fair to say that last year Facebook got raked over the coals by politicians and the media alike. It seemed (and to be honest, seems) like every week there was and is a story bashing Facebook. From the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to the security breach and Sheryl Sandberg controversy. Most recently Facebook was reported to be selling user’s messaging information to large companies, although they technically did nothing illegal, according to FB. Facebook has been getting a lot of negative publicity recently. Not to mention some revenue slow down. Over the summer in 2018, Facebook showed signs of slowing down user growth, and lost 24% of it’s stock value in 2 hours. Employees are feeling the pressure as well with the constant news coverage.

It certainly has been looking bleak for Facebook recently.

But how much of this is over exaggerated media outrage, and how much of it actually affects their bottom line? What is their future is going to look like in terms of the products and services they are developing? Are they headed in the right direction in terms of the vision Zuckerberg has set for the company?

It’s important to take note of the fact that Facebook is still the top social media website in the world. In October 2018, they had 2.28 billion active users, outranking YouTube and WhatsApp (which Facebook owns).

The second fact to take note of is that Facebook isn’t just Facebook.com. Facebook has several important subsidiaries that show real promise and no signs of slowdown. These subsidiaries are Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus VR (been redefining their products). All three of these subsidiaries are serious players when it comes to their respective sectors. Without these subsidiaries, you could argue that FB is having a hiccup right now. With these subsidiaries taken as a whole though, there is no denying Facebook has a solid ground in the social media and tech markets and will continue to be making a mark until all of those subsidiaries stop growing at the rate that they are.

According to Statista.com, in October 2018, Facebook owned 4 out of the top 6 social media companies in the world by Active Users. (Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram)

Instagram’s meteoric rise continues, dwarfing the stagnant growth rates of Snapchat and Facebook. Today Instagram announced that it has reached 1 billion monthly active users, after passing 800 million in September 2017 with 500 million daily users.

-Instagram hits 1 billion monthly users, up from 800M in September

Instagram hardly needs an introduction. Facebook.com’s user growth levels weren’t accelerating as investors had hoped in the Summer of 2018. Facebook’s stock price took a dive. While investors were panicking over Facebook, the platform, Instagram reached 1 billion monthly active users, driving Facebook, the company, to do well overall, despite investor’s over reaction.

WhatsApp ranks 3rd in terms of active users in October 2018. Which is… owned by Facebook. WhatsApp is very popular internationally, which rightly so constituted a 19 billion dollar price tag when Zuckerberg made the call for Facebook to acquire it in 2014. The acquisition of WhatsApp has been shown to be fruitful, as it grew from 450 million users in 2014 to over 1 billion in 2018.

Oculus VR, one of Facebook’s other subsidiaries, has had some shortcomings.

One of the biggest challenges VR companies have faced is getting headsets into people’s hands. Traditional VR headsets are expensive ($400 or more) and require high-end gaming computers that cost well over $1,000. The cost of VR headsets is the biggest barrier that Oculus needs to overcome.

-Why Facebook’s Oculus Acquisition Hasn’t Paid Off… Yet

According to this article, that was written in August 2018, Oculus needed to develop cheaper VR headsets. And that’s exactly what Oculus did with the new Oculus Go. The Oculus Go has been reviewed as the best VR option in 2018 by TechCrunch. Facebook is determined to get a dominant foothold in the VR market, truly believing in the social media mindset of driving user growth as opposed to high margins. Maybe he hopes to integrate his other subsidiaries into the VR space, and just needs to have a lot users so that FB can show them advertisements.

Facebook, driven by Mark Zuckerberg, has made a series of brilliant acquisitions; putting the company in a position that makes it hard to fail. He routinely tries to aggressively acquire social media companies in the market. He once tried making a deal with Snapchat, but the owners declined his offer, which made him deploy Instagram in a ruthless campaign to diminish Snapchat’s influence. Zuckerberg isn’t messing around when it comes to growing his company.

Because of Facebook’s subsidiaries and sheer user engagement levels, they actually aren’t in the worst position as a business. Most likely, more people probably complain about Facebook on Facebook.com, through the articles that are posted on there, and/or through the other companies they own, than on any other social media website alone. That is because combined, Facebook the company, has over 6 billion active users. Because Facebook Messenger is counted with this statistic, which people often times use with Facebook.com, a lot of the users on Facebook are also engaging with Facebook’s Messenger, which is counted as a separate entity on Statista. It’s also possible that users on Facebook also use Instagram and WhatsApp as well, so there aren’t actually 6 billion separate people on those applications, but a smaller amount using more than one product. Either way, you could say that because those companies are so well run, Facebook has users engaging throughout their entire network of subsidiaries. That sounds attractive to advertisers.

Facebook definitely was absolutely hammered in 2018, and still is currently. But Zuckerberg is optimistic about Facebook’s future, and has apparently made great strides to reduce the threat of Russia interfering in our elections. I don’t necessarily know how the Portal that Facebook has released is going to fair in the market, but right now they are still a good company that has made some aggressive moves to get to where they are. Despite the overwhelming amount of negative news coverage, Facebook will still be a prominent company for some time.

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Kristopher Saber

Written by

User Experience Researcher at Publicis Groupe. I like writing about business, technology, psychology and UX.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +793K followers.

Kristopher Saber

Written by

User Experience Researcher at Publicis Groupe. I like writing about business, technology, psychology and UX.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +793K followers.

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