The way people act online is fundamentally changing, and with access to the behaviour of 1.1bn people each month there are few companies better placed to comment on that than Facebook. 

In his talk at the Content Marketing Summit last week, the social network’s head of agency relations, Ed Couchman, gave an interesting talk on what he believes are the three biggest changes currently happening in digital. 

  • The move away from desktop to mobile.

  • An increase in more visual-based communication.

  • A tendency for discovery rather than search on mobile.

Let’s go into a bit more detail on each of those points. 

A move from desktop to mobile

Alright, we get it. Mobile is growing. You’re probably all bored of hearing those words by now, as even Couchman was quick to admit. 

But it’s the pace of change that is the significant part in all this, he argues, highlighting the fact that while it took the television decades to reach a billion units sold, it took the smartphone just four years. 

We consistently underforecast the number of people that are going to access Facebook via mobile in the UK.

Right now it’s 26m every day. Last year it was 24m. The year before it was 20m.

Not only that but a quarter of those 26m only access Facebook via mobile, he adds. 

And with the rise in mobile usage there has been a parallel increase in video views. Facebook now sees 8bn video views every day, 75% of which are on mobile, with 88% year-on-year (YoY) growth for UK video views. 

These statistics are huge, and they begin to tell the story of where social media is going. Which leads us onto our next point…

An increase in visual communication

With the rapid rise of sites such as Snapchat and Instagram, it comes as little surprise that people are increasingly talking to each other through imagery. 

The fact that Oxford Dictionary’s 2015 word of the year was an emoji provides further proof. In fact the use of emojis and stickers on Facebook is up 388% YoY. 

According to Couchman:

As humans digest information in visual form quicker than in text form, phones are becoming much more visual devices.

Think about how you used Facebook when it first came out. It was all text-based, updating your status with a sentence or two about what you were doing or writing a message on somebody’s wall. 

Already people are sharing images and videos more than text-based posts, and Couchman predicts that by 2018 nine in ten stories on Facebook will be audio/visual based. 

On mobile people are discovering, not searching

Couchman again:

People aren’t searching for stuff on their phone anymore. They’re discovering content and finding things out for the first time.

It all comes down to behaviour in relation to the device you’re using. If you’re on your mobile you’re likely to be out and about, perhaps waiting for a bus or a train or just killing time while your date continues to not show up. 

If you’ve time to kill, you want to be entertained. It’s a great moment for discovering new things.

But because of this penchant for discovery, the content world has become increasingly competitive, which is a somewhat scary prospect for the brands producing that content. 

With mobile you can access all the online content ever produced, so it’s even more important for publishers to stand out against the cacophony of noise.

Conclusion: personalisation at scale

By this stage I don’t think I need to insult the intelligence of any content producers out there by saying mobile should be high on your list of priorities. 

But brands should focus on making their content more relevant to its intended audience through personalisation, Couchman argues. 

In the UK we’re good at creating one huge unifying piece of content, like the John Lewis ad, but it’s mucy more powerful to create content for specific groups.

Using data you can create personalisation at scale. Just by making small changes to a piece of content you can have a big impact on how it performs.

And finally, here’s an explanation of a personalised ad campaign Facebook carried out for EE, which Couchman referenced in his talk:

Facebook ads personalisation EE