WhatsApp has surpassed Facebook in terms of monthly active users. Both are just above 180 million monthly active users, making them some of the most popular apps in the world.
According to the latest report from App Annie, which has a number of interesting metrics for the social media landscape. Including the fact that there were 658 billion hours spent globally in social media and communications apps in 2018. And unsurprisingly, most of Facebook's apps where the ones users spent the most time in.
Between January 2017 and December 2018, WhatsApp saw monthly active users grow about 30-percent. And Instagram grew about 35-percent. Interestingly enough, the two products that Facebook acquired – WhatsApp and Instagram – outpaced Facebook's products in 2018. With Facebook's monthly active users growing about 20-percent and Facebook Messenger around 15-percent. The last two years or 24 months, were huge for Instagram, seeing as it grew 35-percent during that time period, the largest growth it has seen in a two-year period.
It's no surprise that WhatsApp grew so much in the past couple of years, seeing as it is one of the most popular messaging services, and it also is huge in emerging markets. According to the charts from App Annie, it is the number one app in Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, and the UK. Interestingly enough, it is not even in the top five in the US, though Facebook's other properties are.
This data from App Annie just highlights how smart Zuckerberg was in buying both Instagram and WhatsApp when he did. Instagram was bought in 2012 for around $1 billion – it is now valued at over $100 billion. Facebook then bought WhatsApp two years later for $19 billion.
These were both brilliant purchases by Zuckerberg. He was able to see that Facebook was hitting a plateau in growth, and knew that something needed to be done to continue growing the company. Instagram was a big purchase, but not as big as WhatsApp. With WhatsApp, Facebook was getting a messaging app that was already the largest, and it has only continued to grow. It is also a very popular messaging app in emerging markets, where Facebook has struggled – largely due to the large size of the Facebook app and how much bandwidth Facebook needs. Whereas WhatsApp can send messages quickly, even on networks where speeds are measured in kilobits.
Over the past few years, Zuckerberg has made some pretty big mistakes when it comes to privacy, but no one can argue that one of the best decisions he made for Facebook was acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp when he did.
Social media use also grew over the past two years, around 35-percent. This data also shows that many deem video as an important feature for social media networks. Of course, companies love to add video to their platform, as it keeps users engaged longer, and it also leads to more expensive ads. Let's face it, video ads cost more than a static ad that you might see on the side of the page. This is why we've seen Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others pivoting towards video in a big way.