Facebook’s $19 Billion Bet and Why Credit Unions Should Care

February 21, 2014
Ryan
Ryan

What can you buy with $19 billion? If you’re Mark Zuckerberg you buy the latest and greatest mobile messaging start up, WhatsAPP. WhatsApp has a user growth rate that exceeds that of Zuck’s own social network, Instagram, Skype and Gmail. The acquisition has drawn attention from all sorts of analysts and pundits from a variety of industries. But Credit Union marketers, technologist and executives should pay attention. Here’s why.

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Fish where the fish are

WhatsApp has 450 million Monthly Active Users compared to Facebook’s 751 million, however it’s only taken WhatsApp 5 years to acquire that many Monthly Actives and they add about a million new users a day. Of those 451 million Monthly Active Users, about 70% come back every day compared to only 62% of Facebook users, the previous industry leader. With that many eyeballs exchanging content and data on a daily basis, there’s a lot of fish to be fished by marketers. Facebook is after all at the end of the day a content and ad platform driven by data.

Takeaway: The combination of two incredibly massive audiences creates even more opportunities for marketing and targeting over time.

Diffusion of innovation

As I mentioned in my article with the Credit Union Times on technology and generations, look to how innovations are adopted and the life cycle of technology trends. Those trends tell you where to take your strategy over time. The rapid adoption of mobile messaging and the flood of younger demographics from platforms like Facebook to mobile message apps like SnapChat and WhatsApp indicate a change in communication habits and preference that’s certainly worth at least paying attention to.

Takeaway: Pay attention to why companies like WhatsApp are successful, what about their technology is disrupting to day to day life and what about their offering is appealing to consumers and how it could be leveraged. Which leads us to our final point.

Mobile messaging, payments and emerging markets

Mobile communications and the mobile web is the gateway to reaching emerging markets. Markets that are not served well by the resource-intensive infrastructure that drives urban areas. Where broadband can’t reach, mobile technology brings the internet and with it  change to everything from how we communicate to how we bank. A concept of reverse innovation, where innovation is driven from developing areas to  developed areas becomes prevalent and this has already started to be seen in the adoption payment by mobile message. The rapid adoption and user growth of apps like WhatsApp could be explained because they’re satisfying a demand for mobile functions in undeveloped areas, what else will that disrupt and is your credit union ready for that, especially with a million people being added a day?

Adding it all up

Most importantly, the acquisition by Facebook should create questions and analysis. When that many users get together around a technology and when a company that has already disrupted so much of our world already takes note, it’s worth taking a look. Whether it’s how the purchase could impact your future marketing channels to what’s the possibility of accelerating the pace of mobile banking adoption and innovation.