July 31, 2019: Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat’s Q2 2019 Earnings Reports; Kids opt-in to Instagram business accounts; PEW Research’s YouTube analysis; Pinterest launches emotional well-being prompts
Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
Your Guide to Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat’s Q2 2019 Earnings Reports
Earnings reports were in full swing last week as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat took center stage to share their updates . Below we break down the biggest insights and takeaways coming out of each platform’s report.
Let’s talk Facebook.
Mere hours after receiving a record $5 billion FTC fine on privacy violations, Facebook delivered its earnings report, still shocking analysts and exceeding expectations. TLDR; The company reported $16.886 billion in Q2 revenue, up 28% year-over-year. Nearly all that revenue ($16.624 billion) came from advertising, with mobile advertising revenue accounting for 94% of total advertising revenue for the quarter. To no one’s surprise, Facebook noted growth was “primarily” driven by Instagram Stories, the Instagram feed, and Facebook’s news feed.
What’s Facebook saying?
“Consumers often adopt new technologies first, and our competitive advantage is helping advertisers reach people where they are. We helped businesses make the shift to mobile, and now we are helping them shift to Stories, video and eventually messaging. We know that it’s not enough to make these new formats available.”- Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer
STC POV: Despite what seems like Facebook’s never-ending scandals and nuanced privacy issues that preserve, it had another record-setting quarter. With ad revenue continuing to grow year-over-year, it’s apparent that marketers are still finding Facebook ads relevant – especially for Stories and mobile video.
As consumers continue to shift away from FB News Feed and towards Stories, FB has begun to optimize for this shift and has introduced new ad products designed with this in mind, like the introduction of Stories ads to WhatsApp Status Updates as messaging’s role in this ecosystem grows. As well, Sandberg’s comments above validate the ongoing need and role of creators for marketers to test and learn emerging platforms and new features on legacy ones.
Despite Snapchat still losing money (to the tune of $255 billion in Q2 2019 alone), the platform is more popular now than ever before. According to the company’s earnings report, not only is user growth on the rise, increasing to 203 million (up 13 million from Q1), but it’s also significantly higher than analysts’ expectations. The company also beat expectations on revenue, reporting $388 million, increasing 48% year-over-year.
STC POV: Much of Snap’s recent momentum is coming from recently launched and enhanced products that are both attracting and helping to retain users and advertisers. While viral AR selfie filters (gender swap, baby filters) and original programming for Discover have kept users coming back for more, non-skippable ads through “Snap Select” have kept advertisers happy.
What about Twitter?
To analysts’ surprises, Twitter posted its seventh straight profitable quarter, reporting $841 million in revenue (18% increase year-over-year) and positive user growth, reporting 139 million in monetizable daily active users (14% increase year-over-year).
WTF are “monetizable DAUs”?
On the growth front, Q2 2019 was the first quarter that Twitter has focused primarily on mDAUs, or “monetizable daily active users” instead of MAUs. The platform claims its newly created mDAU stat is a more valuable metric, as it reflects actual advertiser reach, as opposed to highlighting the highest possible numbers it could. Tbh, it seems like Twitter just doesn’t want to report its MAU as its significantly behind the leading social networks.
And ICYMI, Twitter got a new lewk.
STC POV: Twitter’s real value prop to advertisers isn’t the size of its audience, but is the engagement of its users who use the platform to stay in-the-know for news, second-screen viewing and pop culture moments. As well, Twitter also remains relevant as source content for other platforms (think: meme accounts on Insta that re-post Tweets as Insta content).
It’s Complicated: Kids Opt-In to Business Profiles
As Instagram continues to move towards hiding public like counts, young users have begun switching to business accounts. The result? More than two million 12 to 15 year-olds listing their phone and/or email address on the platform.
Tell me more about this.
Research suggests that a growing number of young users are converting their personal profiles into business accounts in order to garner access to more in-depth audience data on their post performance. However, for users to list themselves as a “business” on Instagram, they need to provide additional contact info, like a phone number and email address, which is then displayed publicly.
What’s interesting here is that the “stigma” of having a business account and the potential negative impacts (i.e., throttled reach), in quest for data, deeper analytics or “just for fun” no longer hold with younger generations (who, unless they were creators wouldn’t be directly negatively impacted by this anyways). What’s interesting here (and quite ironic) is that Instagram is hiding likes in attempts to promote healthy behavior, when so many teens are already finding ways to circumvent this and be more like-obsessed.
As well, the privacy implications at play here are serious. In light of Facebook being fined for the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the precedent is being set that platforms ARE responsible for users’ privacy. What we could see in the future is restricted visibility and API access that would more effectively prevent bad actors from taking advantage of the system.
A Week in the Life of Popular YouTube Creators: A PEW Analysis
PEW Research Center published an analysis of every video on YouTube created by popular channels in the first week of 2019.
Researchers analyzed videos posted by 43,000 popular YouTube channels during the first week of 2019. In just one week, those channels were responsible for posting almost a quarter-million videos totaling more than 48,000 hours. For the purpose of this study, researchers defined popular channels as those with more than 250,000 subscribers.
Let’s talk results.
80/20 Rules: A small group of Creators were responsible for producing the majority of the content posted by “popular channels”: 10% of channels created 70% of all videos posted by popular channels. As well, the 10% of popular channels videos that had the most views in this time period were responsible for 79% of all the video views that went to new content posted by these channels.
Creators’ audience sizes grew dramatically: Between July 2018 and December 2018, channels that crossed the 250,000 subscriber count increased by 32%, likely due to the release of new features for creators during this period.
Children’s content, content featuring children and video games were among most-viewed video genres: Despite less than 4% of videos posted by popular channels being intended for children, videos that featured children under the age of 13 received more than three times as many video views as videos without children. Gaming also drives viewership: 18% of videos posted by popular channels related to video games and these videos tended to be much longer, averaging 24 minutes compared with 11 minutes for non-gaming videos.
Cross-promotion of videos with other social media channels was associated with an increase in views: 70% of videos mentioned other prominent social media platforms in their descriptions (either in links or in the text itself), and those that did, received more views than videos that didn’t link to other platforms. The most commonly referenced social platforms were Twitter (58% of all videos), Facebook (51%), Instagram (50%) and Snapchat (9%).
The majority of video engagement occurred on first day: 64% of total video views that these videos received in their first week on the platform came the day they were posted – as did 79% of their likes, 73% of their dislikes and 80% of their comments.
While the report highlights some promising trends for YouTube, it also brings to light some of the negative issues YouTube has struggled with in the past – specifically around children. Ironic timing, given that last week the Federal Trade Commission reportedly agreed on a multibillion-dollar settlement with YouTube for failing to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy for Protection Act.
The PEW Research report was extensive and offers marketers deeper insights into high-performing YT content and channels – information that YouTube’s API doesn’t readily provide, like who’s watching videos, how they become popular and which channels are monetized. With the understanding that the majority (if not all) of these “popular channels” were creator accounts (vs. brand accounts), brands can think about partnering with some of these creators with the understanding that they are the most active, producing the most content and have the biggest reach.
In addition to rules of engagement if considering partnering with YouTube’s most popular creator set, brands can optimize for popular topics, with the understanding that these are some of the forces driving audience growth. Brands also have the opportunity to rethink creator briefs to garner maximum exposure within the first 24 hours by including (what). As well, brands should think about running multi-channel campaigns and working with creators whose influence expands beyond just YouTube, as amplifying YouTube content on other platforms also helps to garner maximum engagement.
Feeling Burnt Out? Pinterest Can Help
Pinterest has revealed a new set of “emotional well-being activities” that it will automatically suggest to users who search for phrases that signal they are dealing with stress, anxiety, depression.
The new tools, which Pinterest is calling “well-being activities,” were developed with the help of emotional health experts, are intended to provide users with interactive resources to help release negative emotions. From attention refocusing exercises, guided meditations, self-compassion mantras and more, each practice offers people an interactive way to improve their mood.
I already feel calmer.
If you type in an anxiety-related query (think: “anxiety quotes” or “stress help”), Pinterest will now display a box above the feed of Pins. If you click into the box, that’s where you will find all of the interactive resources. It’s also worth noting that everything that happens within that box is private and will not affect the pin recommendation algorithm.
What are mental health experts saying?
“Not everyone who needs a little dose of help comes to see us doctors in clinic. Pinterest, meanwhile, has almost 300 million users. Why not go meet people where they are, and see if they need help?” – Dr. Neha Chaudhary, co-founder of Brainstorm, Stanford’s Lab for Mental Health Innovation, and part of the team working with Pinterest on this project
As more research points to social media usage’s negative impacts on depression and anxiety, leading platforms are increasingly put measures in place to try and counteract some of these adverse effects. Where Facebook and Instagram have gone the route of giving users tools to measure, monitor and limit time spent in-app, Pinterest has, alternatively, brought resources into the app to help.
It’s an example of how a brand can leverage its values for a distinctive, justified competitive advantage. For Pinterest, the move speaks to its broader values to have a positive impact in today’s society. In its commitment to this positioning, what’s particularly noteworthy about Pinterest’s efforts to create a “people-safe (and brand-safe)” environment is the bold stance it has taken on eliminating controversial content on its platform, where other platforms – social, search, or otherwise – are still struggling to commit to their own community guidelines.