MAU, or Monthly Active Users, has been the primary statistic used to assess
the health and growth of social networks since before MySpace dismissed Facebook as a fad.
It has been the greatest way for Wall Street and marketers to determine
which social networks are engaging the most people and which are expanding.
The way social networks calculate monthly active users has never been consistent.
Are you active if you never go into Facebook but hit the like button on a blog?
What if you read a lot of Tweets but never respond?
Or what if you just use Snapchat for chatting and have never seen a Story ad?
And does logging into a social network once a
month actually tells people anything about the platform’s health?
Except for Wall Street experts, the nuances of what goes into
these measures are typically lost on everyone else.
But the good news is that we’ve begun to learn more and
obtain more accurate analytics from the platforms.
It’s also excellent news that the MAU will be extinct shortly.
Snapchat has never disclosed complete MAU figures,
instead of focusing on DAUs (Daily Active Users).
This is due in part to the fact that Snapchat is an app.
And applications are concerned with DAUs.
They want you to make using the app a habit.
When Snapchat arrived, and social networks, in general, began to focus more on
the mobile app experience, a daily user statistic became much more significant.
Since Snapchat’s introduction and rise, we’ve seen Facebook and Instagram
place a greater emphasis on DAU statistics, in part to fight with Snapchat’s rising popularity.
The MAU has maintained its dominance.
If for no other reason, it is the only statistic that can be used to
compare all social networks, including those in China.
However, the times are changing.
And the MAU is following in the footsteps of… well, MySpace.
Facebook and Twitter both indicated in their most recent quarterly reports (2018 Q4)
that they are either discontinuing or deemphasizing their monthly active user statistics.
Both for very different reasons.
Both for selfish reasons.
Nonetheless, this is most likely a positive thing.
Facebook’s MAU Move
Facebook appears to be preparing to implement a new “ecosystem” strategy in reporting
their high-level advantage over all other social networks,
and will now deemphasize their MAU statistics in the future.
It’s not about how large Facebook is anymore; it’s about how huge everything Facebook owns is.
So, instead of the MAU for Facebook.com being the major statistic on their earnings calls,
it will now be the monthly active users across ALL Facebook platforms.
Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger are all included.
One obvious explanation for Facebook’s action is
that Facebook.com has begun to plateau at 2.3 billion MAUs.
It is still expanding, albeit slowly, whereas growth in Western nations is flat.
Growth on Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, on the other hand, is still on the increase.
Expect Facebook to promote its ecosystem in a variety of ways in 2019 and beyond.
So to speak, their “Family Plan.”
Their app family, messaging solution family, video solution family, ad solution family, and so on.
This will send a strong message to Wall Street, advertisers, and consumers alike.
I’ll say it again: both of these moves are self-serving.
Both modifications downplay Facebook and Twitter’s flaws.
Facebook’s shift is more of a public relations maneuver than Twitter’s.
While Facebook is concentrating on a larger figure that means less to
marketers or consumers, Twitter’s MDAU statistic is a more accurate representation of
who is using their platform and how companies may engage those people.
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