Facebook 2017: The Highs, The Lows & The In-betweens

This was another record year for Facebook, with developments up the wazhoo -- from high resolution pics in messenger to centres for crisis response. Let's look at some of the highlights of the year on Facebook.

Video Chat

Video chat took a leap forward this year, with twice as much use as in 2016 (17 billion chats or more) seeing Facebook continue to compete with the likes of Skype and Whatsapp for market share. This stat is particularly relevant for me, living in the Caribbean. I phone the UK on a semi-regular basis and I've found Skype to lag quite a bit, Whatsapp to be okay but a drain bandwidth, and FaceTime to be a decent long distance video chat app but considering the bounds Facebook is taking I think it's worth trying it out with friends. Group video chat is a particularly great feature.

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The Power of Connection

Particularly interesting to me since I love emojis, is that people shared over 500 billion emojis in 2017 , or nearly 1.7 billion every day in messenger. 😍😱😎🎉👏😀  I think approximately 0.5 billion of these emojis were just me... GIFs are a good choice on messenger too, with with 18 billion GIFs shared in 2017.

On a personal level I find myself using messenger more and more just to quickly get in touch with people ahead of social events and to ask brands about various products (even to order things if I'm feeling particularly lazy) so it's no surprise that this year Facebook also announced plans to integrate their messenger with websites. Once this is openly available this is going to be a really powerful tool. Couple it with a chatbot, since chatbots can increase sales, and you're onto a winner in 2018. On average there are around 7 billion conversations taking place everyday on Facebook messenger.

To top this, Facebook is reportedly testing a direct messaging app for its sister company Instagram, which looks set to further and directly compete with other snap-pable apps currently occupying this market. 👻

Metric Magic

For advertisers, Facebook has been constantly refining things behind the scenes and trying to improve their data measuring processes -- great to see because in the past Facebook has been accused of inaccuracies particularly in video stats.

Impression level data on videos now gives a more accurate account of events -- down to the millisecond an ad was seen -- which makes sense given pe-roll ads on Facebook are now also a feature. The only way pre-roll could be a success -- and the jury is still out on whether it is a successful feature -- was if Facebook stepped up on its ad reporting capabilities. The more advertising a platform can do the deeper people like me want to go in order to truly understand the story behind data.

I'm also happy to see that this year Facebook has been experimenting with trying to cull unintentional clicks from ad billing using metrics like drop off rate. Anything that refines the advertising process on Facebook is a great thing.

Facebook On Trial

A review of the year wouldn't be complete without mentioning the ad buying investigation Facebook became swept up in along with others this year. More and more people are pushing for transparency when it comes to ad buying -- especially political advertisements --  and it's unclear whether Facebook will eventually be made to provide that information to officials.

Given that earlier this year, Facebook let slip that it had identified more than $100,000 in political ads purchased by a Russian company with ties to the Russian government running between June 2015 and May 2017, some see transparency as absolutely essential in the future.

What's your 2017 Facebook highlight?