Facebook’s “family of apps” strategy is a wild success. While some might have expected it to roll Instagram into Facebook and leave chat in its main app, keeping Instagram independent and splitting off Messenger into a companion app has helped it solidify itself as more than just a ubiquitous utility, but as a downright addiction.
Today on the Facebook Q1 2016 earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg said that “Today, people around the world spend on average more than 50 minutes a day using Facebook, Instagram and Messenger…and that doesn’t count WhatsApp.” That’s amongst people who use any of those apps globally, Facebook clarified for me.
As an advertising-driven business, that huge volume on time spent on its apps translates into enormous numbers of ad views. The question is when Facebook will start seriously considering the impact of the social networking juggernaut it’s created. While some amount of feed reading, photo sharing, and messaging brings people together, usage can also become an endless quest for little hits of dopamine — excitement from consuming new information even if we’re never satisfied.