Productivity The Daily Telegraph

Teenagers ‘like’ Facebook again amid drive for mobile

Author

Louise Armitstead Chief business correspondent

June 25, 2014

Nicola Mendelsohn, European boss of Facebook, says the company’s mobile strategy has brought young people flocking back to the social media giant

Facebook’s drive to serve mobile users has stemmed the exodus of teenagers from the social media giant, the company’s European boss has said.

Nicola Mendelsohn, head of Facebook in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has said three quarters of young people on the internet are now back using Facebook regularly. “This issue of teens is just not true,” she told Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women conference in London. “We have the most engaged audience with young people on Facebook. They’re spending more time on Facebook. We think this is because of the shift to mobile.”

Ms Mendelsohn cited data released yesterday [Subs: TUES] by Forrester Research that said among 12-to-17-year-olds, Facebook is “their favourite social network by far”. The survey also found that young teens are spending “more time on Facebook not less” with 46pc of teens said they were spending more time on site than a year ago.

At Facebook’s third quarter results last year, David Ebersman, the company’s finance director, triggered investor alarm when he admitted the site had experienced a “decrease in daily usage, specifically among younger teens.” Since then, tech and financial experts have predicted the decline of Facebook because it was becoming “uncool.” Even President Barack Obama declared that young people “don’t use Facebook anymore.”

Ms Mendelsohn said the “growth of mobile has taken everybody by surprise”. She said even Facebook had been wrong-footed and had to perform a radical about-turn in strategy to catch up. She said: “It was because Mark Zuckerberg turned around and said, ‘We’ve done this wrong. We now need to go mobile first. Nobody can come in here now and show me any new products unless it’s on mobile.”

She said that Facebook now has over a billion mobile users every month, with about 75pc returning to the site daily. “We are seeing more and more growth at Facebook as the result of these incredible computers that we have in each of our hands. So mobile, mobile, mobile,” she said.

She added that businesses in general were lagging behind the mobile revolution. “We now know that people spend more time consuming on mobile than they do on other media and yet we’re not seeing that companies are adapting their businesses quickly enough to go where consumers are,” she said. “There’s a real disconnect and businesses need to get a move on fast.”

Ms Mendelson said Facebook’s recent acquisition spree was due to another change of strategy and an admission that “it’s not the best user experience for people to just do everything in one place.”

Facebook’s $19bn acquisition of Whatsapp, which has 500m users compared to Facebook’s messaging service which has 200m, has allowed the company to tap into a “whole new way of people communicating,” said Ms Mendelson.

She said the $2bn deal for Oculus was “kind of a bet on the future”. The company’s virtual reality gaming head-set was “incredible” she said and had big potential. Asked about the concerns over privacy on Facebook, Ms Mendelson said it was the company’s “single most important issue”.

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