Facebook is the most popular social network in Africa with over 120 million monthly active users across the continent.
Sounds impressive right? But given Africa’s 1.1 billion population, it equates to only 10.9% of Africa’s population as Facebook users.
Plus, of those users, 57% are accessing via a feature phone so potentially not having the best user experience.
How can Facebook convert more African users? Change the product.
Facebook has done exactly that and rolled out a 2G news feed; that is, a News Feed that has a good user experience regardless of your internet speed and type of phone.
Facebook’s 2G News Feed involves tech updates to conserve data and shift the focus from multimedia content to text, specifically:
- Less video content for users who select the 2G experience. Instead, they’ll get more links and text content.
- Fancy technology called Network Connection Class that enables Facebook to keep loading content as a user is consuming content on screen.
- Priority downloads done on a post-by-post basis, instead of a group of Newsfeed posts.
- Progressive JPEG photo formatting which shows a low res version of the image (instead of a blank screen) while the higher res version is downloading.
- If a connection is exceptionally slow (or non-existent) then the News Feed will display the last seen stories, instead of an annoying blank screen.
Facebook’s Head of Africa, Nunu Ntshingila, was at our Ogilvy Africa HQ earlier this week and emphasized the importance of needing to adapt the platform to the local region because Facebook realized a one-size-approach is no longer effective. Last month Nunu was quoted as saying, “At Facebook, we have a saying that we’re only 1% done, and this couldn’t be truer for Facebook in Africa.” Exciting times.
Other social media platforms will need to follow a similar path to achieve success in Africa. It would seem the popularity race is just getting started here. [‘Here’ is Kenya, by the way, as I’m setting up our Social@Ogilvy Africa teams!]