Facebook’s annual F8 developer confab kicked off yesterday in San Jose, with big announcements about the company’s most ambitious efforts (to date) to combine VR and AR within the social space, as well as a host of new bots and chat extensions for everything from enterprise functionality to personal entertainment. But one thing remains clear: Facebook Messenger, which it originally rolled out more than five and a half years ago, continues to play a central role in the company’s constantly-expanding universe of services and offerings. In fact, earlier this month, Facebook reported that Messenger topped 1.2 billion monthly active users worldwide, propelled by “double-digit growth.” Despite competition from upstarts like Snapchat, Facebook’s constellation of messaging apps (which includes Whatsapp, acquired in 2014, and Instagram, acquired in 2012), represents a daunting communications empire.
Facebook Messenger Use Plateaus
While Facebook Messenger head David Marcus told TechCrunch that the app has “increased engagement massively in terms of number of messages sent per active user,” Verto Analytics data shows that Facebook Messenger engagement actually seems to be plateauing in the U.S. (among adults ages 18+), especially compared to Instagram and Snapchat. Over the past six months, the average amount of time that users spend on Facebook Messenger has remained a relatively stable hour per month. Snapchat and Instagram users have displayed more inconsistent usage over the same time period, but overall have spent between three and five and a half hours per month on those two apps, representing a far greater amount of time spent overall. In December 2016, this disparity was especially clear: the average user spent nearly one hour and three minutes using Facebook Messenger, more than 5 hours and 11 minutes using Snapchat, and 3 hours and 55 minutes using Instagram.
And if we look at specific user demographics, those differences become even more stark: in March 2017, users ages in the coveted 18-24 age bracket spent almost an hour and thirteen minutes using Facebook Messenger, while they spent 5 hours and 46 minutes using Instagram, and nearly 7 hours and six minutes using Snapchat. For brands and advertisers trying to target specific demographic populations, these behaviors could make a big difference in ad spend and other investments.
While global markets may represent a greater opportunity for Facebook Messenger to boost user engagement, our numbers show that – for now – engagement among U.S. consumers remains low compared to other messaging platforms.