How Africa Accesses Facebook on Mobile 2014

How Africa Accesses Facebook on Mobile 2014

About a year ago, I took a look at how Africa accesses Facebook on mobile as part of a project for a course run by the ODMA (the Ogilvy Digital Marketing Academy). I sourced all of the data from Facebook’s ad planning tool and broke the data down into:

  • Total Facebook users by country
  • Total mobile Facebook users by country
  • Total mobile users accessing Facebook on Feature phones, on Android, on iOS, on BlackBerry and on Windows Phone.

Facebook recently announced that there are over 100 million people in Africa using Facebook, half of all Africans connected to the internet. And since it’s been a year since my original post, I decided it was time to relook how Africa accesses Facebook on mobile in 2014.
Last year, I mainly looked at the five countries with the largest number of Facebook users. This year, I looked at how many people were using each mobile platform to access Facebook across the continent. Here are the results:


  • 40,817, 600 African access Facebook on Android devices
  • This accounts for roughly 45% of mobile Facebook users in Africa
  • The number of Africans using Android devices to access Facebook has increased 244% in the past year


  • 35,533,600 Africans access Facebook on Feature Phones
  • This accounts for roughly 39% of mobile Facebook users in Africa
  • The number of Africans using Android devices to access Facebook has increased by 19%


  • 6,209,240 Africans access Facebook on iOS devices
  • This accounts for roughly 7% of mobile Facebook users in Africa
  • The number of Africans using iOS devices to access Facebook has increased by 58%


  • 5,778,880 Africans access Facebook on BlackBerry devices
  • This accounts for roughly 6% of mobile Facebook users in Africa
  • The number of Africans using Blackberry devices to access Facebook has increased by 3%


  • 1,649,440 Africans access Facebook on Windows Phone devices
  • This accounts for roughly 2% of mobile Facebook users in Africa
  • The number of Africans using Windows Phone devices to access Facebook has increased by 146%

Some General Observations from the Data:

  • Compared to last year, more Africans are using Android devices (although this may include tablets) to access Facebook than Feature Phones. Bear in mind that this doesn’t mean that there are more Android devices than feature phones in Africa.
  • All the use of all mobile platforms to access Facebook grew over the past year
  • Android enjoyed triple digit growth in the majority of African countries in the study – this growth may increase in coming years as Google launches Android One in Africa
  • The number of Facebook users in Africa grew by 26% in the past year with 92% of users accessing the service on mobile devices

A Note on the Data:

All of the data used in this post was sourced directly from Facebook’s Advertising Tool. To the best of my knowledge, all of the above data is as accurate as possible at the time of originally publishing this post. If there is an error in the data, it may be my fault (please let me know if you find something wrong). If I was not at fault, then Facebook was drunk. You can find a full PDF of the data here. If you would like it in an editable spreadsheet, please let me know and I will gladly supply it.

I have tried my best to not be misleading with the data in this post. You are free to reuse any of the figures in this article but please do so in context – this is important to make both you and myself seem less stupid.

Snapchat’s Secret Sauce

Snapchat’s Secret Sauce

It seems like every other day that someone announces another Snapchat clone. Facebook had Poke, then Slingshot. Both failed. Path redesigned their chat app to be more ephemeral in nature. Instagram launched Instagram Direct for private sharing and is even testing a new private photo sharing app called Bolt.

Why is everyone trying to be Snapchat and why is Snapchat still ahead of the game. I’d like to argue that Snapchat has a secret sauce. Here’s why:

1. Snaps are Super Expressive
You can share photos and videos with lots of apps, so what makes Snapchat so special? The answer is that a snap is not just a photo. By allowing users to add text, apply filters and draw on their photos and videos, Snapchat offers their users a way to be both highly creative and super expressive. Now when you combine this with the ephemeral nature of Snapchat, you create a way for users to share moments, big or small, in a way that is more natural than most other social networks.



Now if you compare Snapchat to some of it’s “competitors”, you’ll see that they haven’t perfected this perfect balance of expressiveness and ephemerality. Poke was just a pure clone of Snapchat with none of the coolness factor. Slingshot arguably comes close but requires an awkward sling to unlock mechanic. Bolt emphasises speed over creativity. Most other ephemeral apps are using the feature as a gimmick. And Instagram Direct just doesn’t allow users to be expressive enough. You can only do so much with Instagram’s selection of filters which is why people have started editing their photos in 3rd party apps like VSCO CAM.

Also, Instagram is just not a private social network. Like Twitter, you want as many people to see, like and comment on your photos while getting as many followers as possible. Instagram is one of the fasted growing and most exciting social networks at the moment. Why they want to be Snapchat instead of Instagram is something I just don’t get.

2. Snapchat has made smarter product decisions
You don’t often hear Snapchat announce new features but when they do, they are often well thought out, make the product better and receive overwhelmingly positive feedback. Some examples of such features include Snapchat Stories, Our Stories and Snapchat Chat. Snapchat Chat is particularly great and does an excellent job at keeping users in the app for longer.

If we look at (or pick on) Instagram, they’ve made a number of product announcements this year. Adding advanced photo editing features and redesigning the app to be more usable in emerging markets were great moves. Launching Instagram Direct, using Facebook Places instead of Foursquare for location data and even launching Bolt seem more misguided.

3. Snapchat is finding cool ways to monetise
Every social network faces the challenge of increasing the number of its users while making as much money as possible. This often involves making the service attractive to brands and by selling users to advertisers. Services have to get this just right because users don’t want to be spammed.

Snapchat is reportedly looking at alternative ways to monetise so that they don’t alienate their audience of “cool kids who use Snapchat”. Snapchat is doing their best to make the service more brand friendly while avoiding monetising through ads (because ads are lame). Some of their ideas include sponsored events (like EDC), sponsored geofilters and even a mobile payments service. If they can get this right, then Snapchat has an even brighter future than initially anticipated.


Social Media Tips for Introverts

Social Media Tips for Introverts

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world”

Mahatma Gandhi

A while back, I can across Susan Cain’s fantastic TED talk The Power of Introverts and went on to read her equally fantastic book Quiet. I found it fascinating as there are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be an introvert. Introverts aren’t necessary quiet or shy but just prefer less stimulating environments and need time to occasionally recharge.
 Introverts aren’t better or worse than extroverts, although they are better and worse at certain things. They have different temperaments and different needs. It can be a bit tricky being an introvert, especially in a world with a bias towards extroverts. So this got me thinking, how can introverts succeed in the noisy and often shouty world of social media? Here are some tips:

1. Understand that Social Media is not an accurate reflection of reality

This is super important. Social networks often give the illusion that we are more connected but studies have shown that social networks can often make ourselves feel more isolated and alone. And this was way before Facebook’s infamous mood experiment. You can watch Sherry Turkle’s excellent TED talk, but just remember: there are a lot of amazing things about social media but it is not the be all and end all. Rather focus of having fantastic relationships with people (both online and offline) than “winning” at social media.
2. Quality Over Quantity

This is a mantra that should drive every decision you make about how you engage with people on social media. There is already so much noise on social channels and if all you are going to do is add to the noise, you are wasting your time.

Be quite thoughtful about who you follow, when to engage and what you say. If your posts are of a high quality, they will have value and that’s never a bad thing. How much is too much and how much time should you spend on social? These are individual questions that you should answer upfront. Set yourself a quota to make sure that you aren’t stuck watching your Twitter feed 24 hours a day.

3. Pick Your Platforms and Control Your Feeds

There are no shortage of social networks but you also don’t have to be everywhere all the time. It all depends on your individual social media needs. You may find that you need to use Twitter and LinkedIn for work, Facebook for friends and family and Instagram just because you love taking pics on your phone. You may just need Instagram. Pick the platforms that add value and give them the necessary attention. Ignore the rest.

The other thing you can do is control your feeds. If your feeds become too noisy, you can use lists on most social networks to curate specific feeds for work or family. You can still build a large network with lots of connections but this may help you find and engage in specific conversations a bit more easily.


4. Listen. Then Talk.

Just like in the real world, this is often the secret to deeper and more meaningful conversations. Sometimes you don’t need to worry about sharing something amazing. You just need to talk to people about the amazing things other people have shared.

Here is something I’ve noticed on Twitter. If you click on a tweet, you can see the number of favorites, retweets and replies. About 90% of tweets get zero engagement, even when people have thousands of followers. Spend a bit of time clicking on tweets and starting conversation with interesting people.

5. Broadcast Through Buffer

If you do want to broadcast but don’t have the time or energy, a simple life hack is to use a service like Buffer. Buffer allows you to schedule your social media updates, either through their algorithm or by manually setting a time. You can plan these updates when you have time and then forget about them. As an added benefit, buffer has very simple but effective analytics that shows the number of clicks and potential reach of your updates.

6. Use Messages or Groups

It’s also important to remember that social networking is not just about tweets and Facebook updates.There is a massive rise in private social sharing through private groups and chat apps. Don’t underestimate the value of sharing 1:1 or 1:few. Sharing the right thing with the right people can be very powerful, as can developing deeper individual relationships within your network.

7. Get Deep

Introverts might actually thrive better in digital spaces than in the real world as many of them express themselves better in writing than verbally. Many of them have also been accused of being “too thoughtful”. Well you filthy, little introvert; it is your lucky day as there are certain digital channels that will allow you get showcase your thinking and shine. If there is something big on your mind, you can make a habit of creating meaty blog posts epic SlideShare presentations. This can help you position yourself without “shouting”.

8. Unplug

Just like in real life, if you are an introvert, you will need to retreat and recharge. Don’t feel bad about unplugging, spending time offline and recharging the batteries. Ironically, it’s usually during this time that you will come across the most interesting things, ideas and moments worth sharing.

Bigish Data and the Big Screen

Bigish Data and the Big Screen

I was thinking about how businesses could better use data, and I wanted to do a quick case study with some real data… even if it’s only a little bit of real data. This post will look at how a company like Ster-Kinekor could benefit from investing in a smarter CRM system but hopefully it will have insights that can be used by other businesses.

The Experiment:

Using the data that is publically available through Ster-Kinekor’s online booking system, I looked at ticket sales for a show across 10 cinemas at The Zone in Rosebank, all screened between 19:30 and 22:15 on Wednesday the 2nd of July 2014. For simplicity’s sake, I pegged the cost of each ticket at R62 and compared the number of tickets sold vs not sold based on the number of total seats in each cinema.*

The Results:

  • In total there were a total of 1,707 seats available to potential movie goers
  • During the evening, only 216 seats (12.6%) were sold
  • The other 1,491 (87.3%) of seats were vacant
  • Sold tickets generated an estimated R13,392 in revenue
  • The value of unsold tickets had an estimated value of R92,442
  • This excludes popcorn, Coke and Astros

Now this isn’t enough data to jump to any conclusions, but you would imagine that The Zone would be one of the busier Ster-Kinekor cinemas. And while this is taken during the week, I’d assume that the real opportunity would be to look for ways to increase attendance during the least busy times, especially during the day….

At first I thought the solution might be for Ster-Kinekor to implement a loyalty programme:

See 10 movies, get the 10th one free. But while surfing on their website, I was shocked to find that they already have this in the form of the SK Club. The only thing is that 11th free movie at The Zone has already cost you between R310 – R620 depending on whether you watch your movies on a Tuesday or not.

But what if Ster-Kinekor had a better, smarter CRM programme and invested more in data-based marketing?

To me, there is a big difference between a loyalty programme and a CRM programme. While a loyalty programme can reward a customer, a CRM programme can go one step further by creating a unique and personalised experience for that customer. The way that this can be achieved is through data.

Every business generates data. The only thing usually missing is having the people with the right skill set to make sense of the data and identify the opportunities. When you get this right, data can be a huge competitive advantage.

The beauty about this Ster-Kinekor case study is that you can extrapolate any effort put into a CRM programme into a tangible business value. In many ways, the cinema chain’s business model is very similar to the hotel industry, another industry that has embraced the concept of CRM. Hotels sell rooms, Ster-Kinekor sells seats (and popcorn and Coke). The more people sitting in seats (and eating popcorn and drinking Coke), the bigger their bottom line.


The success of a great CRM programme (and the data people behind it) would depend on being able to find out how much money Ster-Kinekor could lose on tickets to increase the overall current profits from popcorn and Coke sales or vice versa….Theoretically speaking, Ster-Kinekor could probably afford to lose some money on both tickets and snacks, but only if they could increase the overall number of bums in seats.

Now between their loyalty cards and mobile apps, Ster-Kinekor probably has a comprehensive database with enough information about their customers to build the foundation of a smarter CRM programme. Here are some ways that they could make this happen:

Dynamic Prices

Not all customers are created equal. The buy 10 get 1 free mechanic is great, but if you are a true movie fan, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could unlock a tiered discount based on your patronage? As it stands, if you have a Discovery movie card, you actually pay more to watch a movie the second time than the first. In reality, it should be the other way round to increase repeat viewings and fill up cinemas…

In fact, if you think about it, even movie shows at different times of the day should be priced differently based on fluctuating demand….The only way to do this is to get a clearer understanding of each individual customer based on their long-term movie watching habits.

Social Reviews

Social reviews aren’t just another way to increase visibility on social. Companies like Amazon and Netflix have used customer reviews and ratings to get a better understanding of customers, increase the amount of content viewed and increase sales.


By getting a better understanding of your individual customer’s favourite movie genres and actors, it would be possible to segment a database and geo-target them with time-based discount offers to increase attendance across various cinemas during week nights.

More Special Events

Ster-Kinekor already does premieres for the latest blockbuster movies, but I think this could be taken further by identifying and creating once off events targeted at specific movie fans. Imagine if Ster-Kinekor celebrated the birthdays of filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock with a weekend movie festival, or screened the original Planet of the Apes before the release of Dawn of the Apes. Halloween Horror festivals, Star Wars Marathons, 100 Movies to See Before You Die…all of these events could be promoted, amplified and tracked through digital means.


There are plenty ways that businesses can use data to create value. It requires investment, in both people and systems but if done correctly it can create a better experience for customers and more more money for a business. Now after that lengthy post, I think I really feel like going off to sit in a dark room and drink some Slush Puppy.

*The very small bit of data used for this post can be found here. If there are errors or oversights, please let me know and I will do my best to update it.


How to Predict any Trend in Social Media or Tech

How to Predict any Trend in Social Media or Tech

The world of social media and tech is constantly changing and evolving. There always seems to be a brand new trend that could potentially disrupt everything. But there is also a lot of bullshit and buzzwords out there and not every trend will be the “next big thing” that takes off the way an industry of social media experts predicted. So how can you get better at predicting which trends will catch on and which trends will fail?

To answer this question, it’s worth looking back at the check-in; the once “next big trend” in social media and tech. Cast your mind back a few years back when “location” first became a buzzword. Google was dominating local search and trying to make Google Maps more social with products like Latitude. Foursquare was battling Gowalla to become the number 1 check-in app…and then there was a little app called Burbn.

Like Gowalla and Foursquare, Burbn was just another check-in app. All of these apps were all built on the assumption that people care about where their friends are at a given moment in time. But as time would go onto show, most people don’t care about where their friends are. Unless it’s somewhere cool but we’ll get to that…


With so much competition in the check-in space, Burbn would famously pivot into a little photo sharing app called Instagram, amass over 200 million users, popularise the selfie and get acquired by Facebook for $1billion.

Gowalla would also get acquired by Facebook but that was more an aqui-hire for Facebook to get more engineers. And Foursquare would become the best local search company in the world, but would never become a viable, mainstream social network. And the check-in? The check-in would ultimately become a feature that the majority of social media users seldom use.

Foursquare, Gowalla and Instagram – all three companies started at the same point but only one achieved massive success. Why?

My theory is that all three companies got the initial insight right but only one got the “expression” of that insight right. People do want to tell their friends that they are somewhere awesome. But instead of being a pin on a map, people want to show themselves being awesome, at awesome places, doing awesome things.

The mobile photo was the next big trend, not the check-in. For users, “location” wasn’t about metadata, it was part of the experience that they wanted to share, visually.


While this may seem like just another bit of “ancient” social media history, I believe it gives us everything we need to build a framework to predict whether something will be the next big trend in social media or tech.

It doesn’t matter if it is wearable tech or ephemeral messaging, whether a trend will succeed or not will depend on how it answers the following questions:

  1. Will this thing catch on with normal people? Will it catch on with enough people? Or will it catch on within a specific niche of people? A yes to anything at this stage is a minimum requirement.
  2. Is this thing worth worth the effort? Does it create enough value or sufficiently improve an experience? The bigger the yes at this stage, the more potential there is for the idea to succeed.
  3. Is this trend based on a compelling-enough insight about human behaviour? Is the execution or expression of that insight right or is there a better way to do the same thing? If there is a better way, try find it…

Just because something is technically feasible, doesn’t mean it is a good idea or will catch on with the masses. Today, ideas can come from anywhere, not just programmers or tech people. A few weeks ago at the SnapScan launch, Standard Bank spoke about a new trend where companies are breaking down the silos between R+D and the rest of the business, working with behavioural psychologists and crowdsouricng ideas to get fresh perspectives. But if you are looking for the next big thing, I think the above questions are a good place to start.

Everything You Need To Know About A/B Testing Facebook Content (Give or Take)

Everything You Need To Know About A/B Testing Facebook Content (Give or Take)

by Adam Skikne

Social@Ogilvy recently conducted an international study that identified a significant decrease in organic reach for brand pages on Facebook. They found that organic reach for brand pages dropped to about 6% of fans, declining by an average of 49% during the three month study. For pages with more than 500,000 likes, the effect was even worse.

Now, if you’re a brand that has invested in building a presence on Facebook or if you work in social media, producing content for Facebook, you should find the results of this study quite worrying. Facebook wants to charge you to reach your own fans, but even when you pay them for the privilege of doing so, how do you get the most bang for your buck?

The answer could be A/B testing your social media content and adapting your paid media strategy.

Let’s start by looking at how the majority of brands go about creating and posting content on Facebook. Most brands post twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. These brands generally post at “peak times” (essentially when most of the other brands are posting), which probably means that this content is less likely to show up in someone’s newsfeed. In addition to this, most of this content is produced for the sake of producing content and filling up retainer hours. It’s not an ideal setup, but it looks something like this:

Standard Content Planning

An alternative would be to incorporate A/B Testing into the planning, posting and promotion of your social media content. To do this, simply create two versions of the post you want to test. You can look at changing things like the tone of the copy, the call to action, the overall design of your image or even pit two completely different messages against each other.

Share both posts with your fans – both posts will most likely only reach a small percentage of your fanbase. Give the posts an hour or two and see if one post in particular has been more successful. To get the necessary exposure, you may have to put a small bit of paid media behind each post. In most cases, success will be higher levels of engagement (more likes, comments or shares) but this will depend on your objectives for your content. If there is a clear winner, promote that post to the rest of your fanbase or to a specific group based on their interests.

This approach looks something like:

A-B Tested Content Planning

If you want to test the same message with different audiences, post the same message twice but use targeted Facebook advertising to reach different audiences based on age, gender, location or interests, and then compare the results.

Now obviously, the degree that you incorporate A/B testing into the development of your social media content will differ from brand to brand. In an extreme case, a very data-driven client may want every single post to be A/B tested but this is most likely pretty rare. More likely, most brands will usually be open to use A/B testing when:

  • Pre-testing a new designs for social
  • Comparing results with different target audiences (supported by targeted Facebook advertising)
  • Testing what call to actions drive engagement
  • Compare click through rates from social content on your website (this may require tracking different links on each post)
  • Optimising paid media spend

Eventually, you might be able to identify key trends that will allow you to target and engage different segments of your community of Facebook fans more effectively. This will allow you to ensure that the right messages are reaching the right audiences as well as make smarter use of paid media spend.

As I mentioned earlier, our job as social media people is not just to produce content for content’s sake and fill up retainer hours. If you are producing content for a client, explore and experiment with A/B testing in order make sure you are being as smart and strategic as possible when it comes to planning and creating content.

Let’s All Be Bad Magicians

Let’s All Be Bad Magicians

by Adam Skikne

They say that a good magician never reveals their secrets. Well after spending a few years working in social/digital, I say that all the good magicians out there can go fuck themselves. I say that the world needs more bad magicians.

A few years ago I was working at a through the line agency as a copywriter. As the agency’s only copywriter, I wrote about 98% of all the copy that left the agency. But after months of churning out copy for 10 hours a day, I started to feel stuck. A good friend of mine, Mirisa Du Toit, was looking for somebody to join her social media team. It sounded like a good opportunity and I took it.

I was interested in digital and social media. I had a fair amount of knowledge about the various social media platforms but I didn’t have any experience of how to use social media to complete business objectives. From literally the first day I started working with Mirisa, I began an intensive learning experience that covered social media marketing, content planning, community management, digital strategy, paid media, Google Analytics, reporting, ORM and so much more.

wonderific marvelous

It was a small company which meant that it wasn’t only possible to get your hands dirty, it was expected. As much as I learnt from Mirisa, the most important thing was this: If you don’t know something, there is nothing stopping you from teaching yourself. It’s so important to take the initiative and develop an attitude for continual self improvement.

I’ve been lucky in that Mirisa wasn’t the only bad magician I’ve worked with. Over the past year and a half, I’ve been lucky enough to work with people like Corli de Kock, Tiaan de KockDavid Alves, Fareed Mohammed, Nick Bedford and so many more. Most of what I’ve learnt about business and life has come from the various people I work with. The sad truth is that people in this industry move. You have limited time to learn from colleagues so don’t waste it – especially if they are good at being bad magicians…

dance1 dance2

But, in addition to learning from people who know more than me, I’ve also gotten a lot of pleasure from teaching and helping people who actually want to learn. This has come mainly from spending time with the more “junior” members of our team. I hate calling them “junior” because they are so much more than that so I’ll just call them next gen social people.

These next gen social people are young enough to not be jaded by some of the more frustrating elements of working in social or digital. They are passionate, come in early, stay late and work hard. Despite this, they can sometimes still get frustrated. They want to learn and they want to grow, but sometimes they just don’t know how. If you work with a next gen social person that fits this description, take them under your wing and teach them everything they need to succeed. Be a bad magician.

bird1 bird2

As I try to end this post, I can only give any next gen social person who may be reading this the following advice: social media can be an incredibly nuanced discipline. If we aren’t able to differentiate what we do or specialise within a particular area of social media, our industry runs the risk of becoming incredibly vanilla. Social media is not posting twice a day. It’s not creating content that no one will engage with for the sake of creating content. It’s not just about responding to complaints and updating Facebook and Twitter. We need to be smarter and we need to  be better. If you want a fulfilling career in social media, then you need to know what’s even possible. There are a number of areas within social media that you can upskill in or even specialise. Some of them include:

  • Community Management (Building actual communities, not just responding to complaints. You are better than that)
  • Content Creation
  • Social Media for Consumer Brands
  • Social Media for Corporate Brands
  • Social Media for Live Events
  • Reporting
  • Data, Analytics and Insights
  • Influencer Engagement
  • Social and Digital PR
  • Social Media Campaigns
  • Social Media Strategy
  • Social CRM

The above list is not 100% complete but it’s enough to get you started. You can either choose to be an all rounder or you can specialise. But whatever you do, make the conscious decision to take every opportunity to learn and then just be as serious as fuck about continually bettering yourself. Learn from the people you work with. Learn from the people you don’t work with. Teach yourself until you are in the position to teach others. And then you’ll see why it’s awesome being a bad magician.

WhatsApp: WTF?

by Adam Skikne

Earlier this week, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion. And while everyone may have their opinion of why Facebook acquired WhatsApp, what they have planned for WhatsApp, or whether or not it was a good or a bad deal for Facebook, no one can definitively know the answer to any of these questions for sure at this moment in time.

Sure, the internet is full of people with opinions and the best way to take an opinion is with a pinch of salt. Having said that, Facebook’s decision to acquire WhatsApp for $19 billion could very well be the single worst decision in the history of business. Ever.

Here’s why:

1. 19 Billion Reasons

The great thing about WhatsApp is that it is incredibly simple and has focused on doing one thing particularly well. WhatsApp doesn’t collect your personal data and it doesn’t depend on advertising for revenue. WhatsApp is basically free for the first year and then charges you $1 a year thereafter.

So did Facebook acquire WhatsApp to collect more data? Did they acquire them to make money. The answer, at least at the moment, is ‘no’ on both accounts. In fact if every one of WhatsApp’s 450 million monthly users paid their $1 subscription, it would take WhatsApp just over 42.2 years to generate $19 billion dollars. This $19 billion would not be pure profit.

It would not be worth the same as $19 billion dollars is worth by today’s standards.

And we will probably not be using WhatsApp 42.2 years from now.

2.  WhatsApp doesn’t automatically give Facebook Access to Millions of “Poor” People in Emerging Markets

Ok, so for many, WhatsApp is the default SMS or messaging app, especially for “poorer” people in emerging markets. But is Facebook’s play really spending $19 billion dollars to get WhatsApp on “poor” people’s smartphones just so that they can get them to use Facebook? That sounds stupid.

But if Facebook acquired WhatsApp to target the next billion people who will be accessing the internet for the first time in emerging markets, they have a big problem. WeChat.

WeChat offers the same functionality as WhatsApp as well as a completely mobile social network that can potentially replace Facebook for many users. And in a recent article by Quartz, while WeChat has 150 million users less than WhatsApp, each WeChat user is worth an estimated $95 each – making WeChat worth around $30 billion.

Not only are WeChat users worth more than WhatsApp users, WeChat is looking to aggressively expand into Western markets. WhatsApp will not only have to fight off WeChat’s superior offering in these markets but they will also struggle to gain traction in China (where WeChat comes from) because of WeChat’s head start and the fact that Facebook is pretty much banned in China.

3. Facebook Fails

I think Facebook has a lot of potential as a company. They have an enormous user base, all our data, tons of money and some super smart people. But they also have a terrible track record of announcing things that should revolutionize social media but fail miserably instead. Some of these Facebook fails include:

  • The effect of changes to the News Feed algorithm for posts from friends
  • The effect of changes to the News Feed algorithm for posts by brands
  • email addresses
  • Facebook Graph Search
  • Facebook Home (despite being a cool product)
  • The HTC First (this was actually quite a cool entry level phone)
  • Facebook Poke (to compete with Snapchat)
  • Facebook’s controversial IPO
  • Not being able to solve advertising on Instagram (although this may change)
  • Instagram Video (to compete with Vine)
  • Instagram Direct (once again to compete with Snapchat)

So even if buying WhatsApp is a good idea and fits perfectly into Facebook’s genius plans…things don’t always go according to plan. Especially for Facebook. After writing this post, I think I realise that the only possible reason Facebook bought WhatsApp wasn’t to increase revenues, get more data or even more users. The acquisition was most likely to prepare for the upcoming battle between with WeChat. Will the $19 billion dollars that Facebook spent on WhatsApp be worth it? We’ll find out as the battle unfolds on the tiny screens in our pockets.


Everything you need to know about Snapchat in 10 seconds (give or take)

Everything you need to know about Snapchat in 10 seconds (give or take)

by Adam Skikne

1. What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is an app that allows you to share pictures and short videos that delete themselves after 10 seconds. You can also draw or write on your pictures. It’s more fun than it sounds.

2. That sounds stupid. Why would people use Snapchat?

Young folk are getting tired of the fact that everything you do or say online sticks around forever. Sometimes, you just want to share something and not have it recorded until the end of time.

3. Is this the app everyone uses for sexting?

Apparently but not really. I get a decent amount of snaps from friends everyday. So far, not a single sext. But if you do want to sext (am I using that word correctly?) you can add me: adamskikne

4. Can’t people just screengrab your snaps?

Yes, but it’s cool. Some snaps are just too awesome not to save. Plus you get a notification when someone screengrabs your snap. So you know if you need to start panicking.

5. Why is everyone talking about Snapchat?

Facebook reportedly offered $3 billion to acquire Snapchat. Facebook got turned down.

Google reportedly offered $4 billion to acquire Snapchat. Google got turned down.

6. That’s crazy. How many people are on Snapchat?

It’s tough to say. Snapchat isn’t confirming the total number of active users.

7. Ok…so why the billion dollar offers?

There are more snaps sent each day than the number of photos loaded onto Facebook.

8. Should Facebook be worried?

Facebook shouldn’t be worried about Snapchat per se. Facebook should be worried that young people think that Facebook is boring and aren’t using it as much as they used to.

9. Is Snapchat worth billions of dollars?

Probably not. They haven’t figured out a way to make money and people are very fickle when it comes to the next hot app. Plus a lot of their metrics are very misleading at the moment.

10. Can brands use Snapchat?

Yes and no. Seriously, this is taking way longer than 10 seconds. I guess you could use Snapchat’s relatively new Story feature to create a feed of pictures and videos that live for 24 hours before deleting themself. I’m sure Snapchat is probably looking at new features specifically for brands. To be safe, just stick to Facebook and Twitter and quit trying to look smarter than you really are by trying to find “the next big thing” in social media.


You can get Snapchat on the Google Play Store and the Apple App store.

 *No turtles were harmed in the making of this post