The Rise and Challenges of Facebook Messenger

Today, Facebook kicked off its annual F8 conference in San Francisco with an ambitious vision for its Messenger app as a critical tool for business communication. The Messenger app has been a top priority since last year, when the company launched Messenger Platform, inviting developers, media, and advertisers to integrate content with the app. We suspect that the updates, including emojis, news articles and direct communication with businesses, were aimed at attracting younger audience.

Messenger’s younger mobile users use the app more frequently, and spend more time in-app than the general audience. In order to see if Facebook’s efforts had paid off, we leveraged 7Park Data’s multi-million user panel to track and compare the frequency and the length of sessions of teens versus general users over a period of time. Here’s what we found.

Chart showing Facebook messenger sessions per active user, teens vs general users, in the U.S.

Starting with the first quarter of 2015, Facebook Messenger’s sessions per active user has been steadily growing within our teen cohort. In the last quarter of 2015, the app’s frequency of usage by teens in the United States grew by 39.8% compared with the same time in 2014. The trend continued with 47.7% year-over-year growth in Q1 2016.

If we look at the Messenger’s performance outside the United States, we see that one of the app’s biggest competitor is WhatsApp. (Note: WhatsApp is also in the Facebook’s app portfolio.) While the Messenger continues to grow in the United States, WhatsApp is stealing the spotlight in other regions of the world, particularly in EU and South America.

Chart showing install base of Facebook Messenger vs Whatsapp in global 2015.

As Facebook reinvents itself and broadens its appeal to specific audiences, it’ll be interesting to see how Messenger’s user engagement changes and how Facebook keeps its competitive edge both in the United States and abroad.

In the meantime, request a demo of 7Park Data’s App Intelligence Dashboard. You’ll get an inside view of current and historical user engagement across Facebook’s portfolio of mobile apps around the world. You’ll also be able to see how Facebook’s apps compare to other publishers’ apps.

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