'WhatsApp has 1.5 B monthly active users; Stories will overtake posts' — Mark Zuckerberg


Facebook recently reported its Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2017 results. On the occasion, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, said, "2017 was a strong year for Facebook, but it was also a hard one…..Our community continues to grow with more than 2.1 billion people now using Facebook every month and 1.4 billion people using it daily. Our business grew 47 percent year-over-year to $40 billion.”

Mark Zuckerberg also disclosed on Thursday,

WhatsApp now has 1.5 billion monthly active users (MAUs) who are exchanging nearly 60 billion messages on a single day.

WhatsApp India focus

On February 19, 2014, Facebook had acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion — its largest acquisition to date. WhatsApp currently has over 200 million monthly active users in India. Indian WhatsApp users had also sent an estimated 20 billion messages on New Year's Eve.

Globally, WhatsApp hit a new milestone with more than 75 billion messages sent by its users. The 75 billion number included 13 billion images and five billion videos, the Facebook-owned company had disclosed.

To help businesses communicate better with their customers, WhatsApp last month officially rolled out 'WhatsApp Business' — a free-to-download Android app for small businesses — around the world, including in India. 

The new app, available on Google Play Store, aims to make it easier for companies to connect with customers and makes it more convenient for its users to chat with businesses that matter to them.

According to a report by IANS, 84 percent of Indian SMBs think that WhatsApp helps them communicate with customers and 80 percent of SMBs think that WhatsApp helps them grow their business.

Zuckerberg said that Facebook was working to give businesses more ways to communicate with their customers through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Facebook had launched a plug-in for Messenger so people could chat live with companies on their websites. He said,

Now more than 2 billion messages are sent between businesses and customers every month....A growing number of these messages are between people and companies, which is why we launched WhatsApp Business — a new app designed specifically for small and medium businesses to connect with people they want to reach.

Stories to replace posts?

During the earnings call after announcing the fourth quarter results, Zuckerberg also disclosed that Facebook-owned Instagram was now the most popular Story-sharing product, followed by WhatsApp.

Both Instagram "Stories" and WhatsApp "Status" features have an estimated 300 million daily active users (DAUs) — compared to 178 million Snapchat "Story" users, TechCrunch reported.

Zuckerberg noted that another important shift that they are seeing across the industry is the growth of Stories. He said,

We expect Stories are on track to overtake posts in feeds as the most common way that people share across all social apps. That's because Stories is a better format for sharing multiple quick video clips throughout your day. The growth of Stories will have an impact on how we build products and think about our business, including WhatsApp and Instagram, which are the #1 and #2 most-used Stories products in the world.

2018 Goals

Zuckerberg commented that in 2018, the company is focussed on making sure Facebook isn't just fun to use, but also good for people's well-being and for society. Acknowledging some of the issues Facebook had faced in the last year, he said,

"But 2017 was also a hard year. The world feels anxious and divided — and that played out on Facebook. We've seen abuse on our platform, including interference from nation states, the spread of news that is false, sensational and polarising, and debate about the utility of social media."

Zuckerberg believes that they have a responsibility to fully understand how their services are used, and to do everything they can to amplify the good and prevent the harm. "This is my personal challenge for 2018," he said.

Facebook also recently announced changes to prioritise posts from friends and high-quality news sources on the News Feed. Zuckerberg remarked that in the last quarter, Facebook had made changes to show fewer viral videos to make sure people's time is well spent. The goal is to encourage meaningful connections between people rather than passive consumption of content. He said,

In total, we made changes that reduced time spent on Facebook by roughly 50 million hours every day....By focussing on meaningful connections, our community and business will be stronger over the long term.