Facebook is an online social networking and social media service owned by Meta Platforms. Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in 2004 as a way for college students to connect. Its expansion into other demographics and countries was rapid, and by 2008, Facebook had over 100 million active users. As of August 2022, the platform boasted 2.93 billion monthly active users, making it the world’s most popular social media and networking service.
Up until 2021, Facebook was a product under Facebook, Inc. However, in the spirit of corporate rebranding, the company changed its name to Meta Platforms, Inc. and shifted its focus to artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR). Meta Platforms also owns Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, Oculus, and other subsidiaries.
A 2021 study by Research and Markets valued the social networking market at $192.950 billion in 2019. The study further predicted the market would grow to $939.679 billion by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.38%. Given the tremendous opportunity for growth in the social networking market, it’s no surprise that Facebook faces stiff competition from other companies.
In this Facebook competitor analysis, I’ll focus on the social media and networking aspect of Facebook’s business and how it competes against other social networks. I’ll also analyze the competitive landscape for social media more broadly and what the future holds for Facebook and its competitors.
Bottom Line Up Front
Facebook’s competitive landscape comprises social networks and social media platforms that allow users to connect and share content. However, Facebook differentiates itself with its comprehensive features and user base. Facebook’s most significant competitors are Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram. New players like TikTok and Byte are also starting to gain traction in the social media space.
List of Facebook’s Competitors
Facebook’s Business Strategy and Revenue Model
Facebook’s business strategy is based on three pillars: connecting people, building community, and bringing the world closer together. The company aims to connect people by giving them a platform to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with friends and family.
By creating communities for people to join, Facebook helps people connect with others who share their interests and passions. In turn, these communities give members a sense of belonging and support. Finally, Facebook aspires to create a more understanding and compassionate global community by bringing the world closer together.
Facebook’s primary revenue source is advertising. Through Meta, it sells ad space on its platform to businesses and organizations who want to reach its large and engaged user base. It also offers businesses other marketing products and services, such as Facebook Pages and Insights.
Facebook’s Financial Overview
Meta reports its financial results based on two segments:
- Family of apps (FoA)
- Reality Labs (RL)
As we already know, Facebook is just one product in the company’s “family of apps.” That means it doesn’t break out Facebook’s revenue or profit separately from the rest of its business. It also means that establishing an accurate valuation for Facebook is tricky because it doesn’t trade as a stand-alone company on public markets.
However, we can estimate how much Facebook contributes to the company’s overall revenue by looking at user growth and engagement metrics. According to Meta’s 2021 annual report, Facebook had 2.91 billion monthly active users (MAUs) and 1.93 daily active users (DAUs). That represents a 4% year-over-year (YoY) MAU growth and a 5% YoY DAU growth.
In FY2021, Meta’s ad revenue was $114.934 billion, up from $84.169 billion in FY2020. While it doesn’t release specific ad revenue figures for Facebook, we can estimate that the platform generates most of Meta’s ad sales. Meta’s total revenue for 2021 was $117.929 billion, up from $85.969 billion in 2020
According to a 2021 study by Statista, 93% of responding marketing professionals said they advertise on Facebook. Instagram came in second with 78% of the respondents. Even with a more conservative estimate, it’s clear that Facebook advertising makes up a large chunk of Meta’s total ad revenue.
Facebook Competitors Analysis
Facebook’s competitive landscape comprises companies with reputable financial and user growth metrics. The social media landscape is vast, and Facebook’s competitors come in all shapes and sizes.
Below is a detailed analysis of some of Facebook’s most formidable competitors.
Twitter is a social media and microblogging platform that enables users to send and read short-form text-based posts of up to 280 characters. Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Evan Williams, and Biz Stone founded Twitter in March 2006. The platform quickly gained popularity as a news and information source during significant events such as the 2008 US Presidential Election and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake.
The platform uses a unique algorithm that sorts tweets by relevancy rather than chronology. This algorithm makes it easier for users to find the most relevant information in real-time. Twitter also offers a live streaming service, Periscope, and a Moments feature that curates tweets around specific topics or events.
According to a May 2022 report by Statista, Twitter was the second leading social media platform in the United States, with 9.74% of share visits. Facebook held the first position with 73.72% of share visits. The company trades on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker TWTR and has a market capitalization of $31.528 billion as of September 2022.
Facebook and Twitter compete for users, ad dollars, and attention. Like Facebook, ad revenue is Twitter’s primary source of income, making up for about 86% of the company’s total revenue. In FY 2021, the company reported $5.077 billion, representing a 36.63% YoY increase from $3.716 billion in 2020. However, the company reported a net loss of $0.221 billion in 2021, a better performance than $1.136 billion in 2020.
Financially, we can’t say that Twitter is in a better position than Facebook. But if we look at user growth metrics, Twitter is doing quite well. The company’s monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) increased 15% YoY to 237.8 million in Q2 2022. If the company can continue to grow its user base, it may be able to narrow the gap with Facebook in the future.
Snapchat is a multimedia messaging app that enables users to send text, photos, videos, and audio messages. The app also lets users add filters, lenses, and other effects to their photos and videos. Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown founded Snapchat in September 2011 as a way to share disappearing photos and videos.
Snapchat trades on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker SNAP and has a market capitalization of $18.897 billion as of September 8, 2022. As one of the leading social media platforms, Snapchat competes with Facebook for users and ad dollars. As of the Second quarter of 2022, Snapchat had 347 million daily active users (DAUs), an 18% YoY increase from 293 million in Q2 2021.
In 2021, Snapchat generated $3.1 billion in advertising revenue. Its total revenue for the same year was $4.11 billion, up from $2.507 billion in 2020. Despite impressive revenue metrics, the company isn’t profitable yet. Its 2021 net loss was $0.488 billion, compared to a net loss of $0.945 billion in 2020. The company focuses on having an excellent product and driving user growth rather than profitability.
Mark Zuckerberg understands the threats of smaller social media platforms like Snapchat. From copying Snapchat’s features to investing in similar startups, Facebook has tried various strategies to stop Snapchat’s growth. But so far, Snapchat has been able to hold its own against Facebook and continues to be a strong competitor.
YouTube is a video-sharing website where users can upload, view, and share videos. The site was created in February 2005 by three former PayPal employees: Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. In November 2006, Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion. YouTube is currently the second largest search engine after Google.
YouTube is more of a social networking site than a traditional social media platform. But it has many features in common with other social networks, such as user profiles, comments, and the ability to share videos. YouTube also has a private messaging feature that lets users send each other videos and chat.
According to Statista, YouTube is the second most popular social network in the world, with 2.562 billion monthly active users as of January 2022. With such high traffic, it’s no surprise that YouTube is a major source of income for Google. The company’s ad revenue for Q2 2022 was $7.34 billion, up from $7.002 billion in Q2 2021.
As a subsidiary of Google, YouTube has many competitive advantages. For example, YouTube videos appear in Google search results, which gives the site an advantage over other video-sharing platforms. YouTube also benefits from being part of a larger company with more resources. Despite these advantages, Facebook doesn’t seem to be too worried about YouTube.
The company has been investing in its video-sharing platform, Facebook Watch. If Facebook grows to Watch to be as popular as YouTube, it could seriously threaten Google’s revenue. But for now, YouTube remains the top video-sharing site in the world and a strong competitor to Facebook.
Pinterest is a social network that allows users to share and discover new interests by posting images or “pins.” Founded in 2010 by Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp, and Paul Sciarra, Pinterest is currently one of the fastest-growing social networks. It went public in April 2019 in an IPO that valued the company at $10 billion. As of September 8, 2022, the company had a market capitalization of $15.806 billion.
Pinterest differs from other social networks like Facebook and Twitter because it focuses more on content discovery than sharing. Users “pin” images to personal boards, which act like collections of interests. For example, a user might have a board for recipes, another for fashion inspiration, and another for travel destinations.
That unique approach to social networking has proven to be popular with users. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the platform’s user base increased from 291 million in Q1 2019 to 478 million in Q1 2021. However, it dropped slightly to 433 million during the release of Q1 2022 results. Despite the post-pandemic slowdown, Pinterest remains one of Facebook’s strongest competitors.
Apart from the user base, the two companies compete for ad dollars. Pinterest’s primary revenue source is advertising. Like Facebook, the company sells ad space on its platform to businesses. In its Q2 2022 earnings reports, the company reported $665.930 million in revenue, up from $613,210 million in Q2 2021. Total revenue for 2021 was $2.578 billion, up 52.31% from 2020. After several years of losses, FY 2021 net income was $316 million compared to a loss of 128 million in 2019.
Pinterest’s demographics tend to skew more towards women than men. While this is a non-issue to some extent, it may alienate some advertisers who prefer a more even split. However, it’s undeniable that Pinterest’s entry into the social media landscape has been a strong one. The company will likely continue to grow in the coming years and seriously threaten Facebook’s dominance.
Having Instagram as the last competitor on this list may surprise some, but it was pretty intentional. Facebook and Instagram are sister companies operating under Meta Platforms, Inc. Instagram is a social network focused on sharing photos and videos. Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger founded it in 2010 as a separate app, but Meta, while operating as Facebook, Inc., acquired it in 2012 for $1 billion.
The Instagram acquisition was Zuckerberg’s strategy to save Facebook from irrelevance. He saw that people, especially younger users, were increasingly interested in sharing photos and videos instead of text-based updates. So he bought the company before it became a direct competitor. Now, Instagram and Facebook are integrated, and users can share their Instagram photos on Facebook with just a few taps.
Despite the close relationship between the two social networks, they do compete with each other to some extent. For example, someone interested in sharing photos and videos may be more likely to use Instagram instead of Facebook because it’s specifically designed for that purpose. According to Statista, it’s the fourth most visited social media website, with 5.35% of share visits.
Meta doesn’t disclose Instagram’s financials separately, nor does it reveal its user data. However, according to employees with information about the company, Instagram surpassed 2 billion active monthly users in 2021. Facebook doesn’t intend to let Instagram siphon off its users, so expect the two networks to continue competing for a while.
Financially, Instagram’s primary revenue source is advertising. Like Facebook, the company sells ad space and marketing products to businesses. However, we can’t say how much revenue Instagram generates because Meta doesn’t segment its revenues based on individual platforms. But given Facebook’s larger user base, it likely generates more revenue. For context, Meta Platforms generated $117.929 billion in 2021, up 37.18% in 2020.
Facebook’s SWOT Analysis
Below is an overview of Facebook’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Diversified revenue streams through advertising, platforms, and products
- Leading market position with 2.8 billion MAUs
- Favored by users for its user interface and features
- Strong brand equity with high levels of customer satisfaction
- An integrated ecosystem with popular products like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus
- Loyal customer base
- Strong leadership
- Data privacy scandals
- Reliance on advertising revenue
- Ads may alienate users and reduce satisfaction
- Ongoing legal issues
- Racial discrimination claims
- Entering new markets like e-commerce, payments, and cloud storage
- Partnering with or acquiring complementary companies
- Developing new products like Facebook Horizon and Oculus Quest 2
- Enter the autonomous vehicles and AR/VR market through its extensive artificial intelligence research
- Intense competition from other social networks like Snapchat, Pinterest, and Twitter
- Regulatory threats from data privacy concerns
- Changing user behavior
- Data breach and security threats
- Reputational damage from user scandals
- Economic downturns
Facebook Competitors Analysis (FAQs)
Question: Who are Facebook’s main competitors?
Answer: Facebook’s main competitors are industry leaders like Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest. All three companies offer different social networking experiences. Still, they’re all trying to attract the same users: people who want to stay connected with friends and family, discover new things, and be entertained.
Question: What is social media competitor analysis?
Answer: Social media competitor analysis is the process of evaluating a company’s position in the social media landscape. It includes analyzing a company’s strengths and weaknesses relative to its competitors, as well as opportunities and threats that it may face.
Question: How is Facebook different from its competitors?
Answer: Facebook has more users, which means it has more data. It also has a more diverse user base, which gives it an edge in understanding how people communicate and connect. Finally, Facebook’s algorithms are more sophisticated, which allows it to show users more relevant content.
The above Facebook competitor analysis shows that the company faces intense competition from various quarters. It competes for users with other social networks, advertising dollars with Google and other ad platforms, and talent with tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft.
This analysis focused on Facebook’s social media social network competitors, including Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest. As a leader in the social media space, Facebook has a definite competitive advantage. But it will need to continue innovating and expanding its product offerings if it wants to stay ahead of the competition.
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