Can Facebook’s $1 bn gamble help it regain lost cool?

Facebook's user base is indeed ageing. The proportion of over-65s has shot up roughly a quarter over the past year.

Can Facebook’s $1 bn gamble help it regain lost cool?

Like internet personalities the world over, Kenyan TikTok comedian Mark Mwas was intrigued when Facebook announced a $1 billion (R14 billion) plan to pay content creators like him. 

But the 25-year-old, whose following surged past 160,000 as entertainment-starved Kenyans flocked to the app during the pandemic, is skeptical that fans would follow him to the older social network. 

“In our market, Facebook is kinda old-fashioned,” said Mwas, who posts skits about campus life in a mixture of Swahili, English, and Sheng slang. 

“Like, Mom is on Facebook and doesn’t know what TikTok is,” he told AFP in an email. “My content is suited for the millennials, who prefer other platforms.”  

Announced last week, Facebook’s $1 billion (R14 billion) will pay the creators of popular posts, from fashionistas to comedians and video gamers, through 2022.

It is the strongest signal yet that the US social media giant now recognises the strategic importance of the “creator economy”.  

Youtube, TikTok and Snapchat already winning the numbers war

YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat have waged an increasingly fierce battle to attract figures with big followings that can in turn attract serious advertising revenues. 

Last November, photo and video app Snapchat began paying $1 million (R14 million) a day to top creators, although the payments have since tapered off. Popular YouTubers have been receiving a slice of the site’s billions in ad revenues since 2007. 

Facebook has been comparatively slow on the uptake. While the site began paying popular video-makers in 2017, most vloggers have found YouTube to be far more lucrative. 

Facebook-owned Instagram has meanwhile launched the careers of many a food blogger and fashion influencer, but the app only began sharing its advertising income directly with them last year.

Traditionally, the bulk of Insta-celebrities’ earnings has come through product endorsement deals negotiated directly with brands. 

Facebook coming late to the influencer party

Joe Gagliese, co-founder of international influencer agency Viral Nation, said it was not surprising that Facebook’s efforts had lagged behind competitors’.

Founded in 2004, Facebook had already built a hugely lucrative advertising business by the time the phenomenon of full-time internet celebrities emerged at the end of the decade. Courting influencers wasn’t crucial to its “primary business”, Gagliese said. 

But as creators have headed elsewhere, their predominantly young followings have followed — contributing to a sense that Facebook, in the eyes of Gen Z, has become an irredeemably uncool website where their parents hang out. 

Facebook’s user base is indeed ageing. The proportion of over-65s has shot up roughly a quarter over the past year — almost double the average, according to the Digital 2021 report from media companies We Are Social and Hootsuite. 

In the meantime, Chinese-owned TikTok was the world’s most downloaded app in the first half of 2021.

It has largely replaced Facebook as the driver of international social media crazes — not least during the pandemic, as bored millions have turned to its dance videos and cooking trends for light relief. 

In this context, Facebook’s $1 billion (R14 billion) gambit is being seen partly as an attempt to regain cultural relevance and stem the youth exodus. 

“The only way for these platforms to keep their relevance with younger generations is to understand what resonates with them and keep up with the pace of innovation,” said Claudia Cameron, head of marketing and insights at Amsterdam-based influencer agency IMA.

“Creators are a very important part of this equation, as they set the tone for what’s cool.”

Facebook: A drop in the ocean?

While young users from Iran to Brazil have been flocking elsewhere, industry insiders say it is far too early to regard Facebook as doomed. 

“You can’t underestimate them, because they are so powerful when it comes to the tech,” said Gagliese. 

Facebook’s vast income — it raked in $84.2 billion (R1 trillion) in advertising revenues last year, more than the GDP of some countries — gives it huge funds with which to innovate. 

It is also, despite its relative loss of street cred, still growing, with 2.8 billion monthly users worldwide. 

Gagliese suggested Facebook should be spending far more on its efforts to lure internet stars from other platforms. 

“Unless Facebook leans in really hard — I’m talking, ‘way more than a billion dollars’ hard — it’s going to be very hard for them to attract all these new creators,” he said. 

Facebook has yet to outline detailed plans for the $1 billion (R14 billion), but Cameron pointed out that a large chunk will likely be distributed via Instagram, which still enjoys a “cool” factor.

That would be good news for TikTok comedian Mwas, who also has a sizeable following there. 

“I’m taking a wait-and-see approach,” he said.

© Agence France-Presse

ALSO READ: Facebook: Investments in Africa will yield $57bn in economic benefits

Source : The South African More   

What's Your Reaction?


Next Article

Winter wonderland: Here’s where you can go to see the SNOW

Several parts of South Africa have been transformed into winter wonderland settings thanks to snow. Here's how you can take advantage!

Winter wonderland: Here’s where you can go to see the SNOW

The cold snap may not have brought snow to all parts of the country but it certainly has brought a drop in temperatures for most parts of South Africa and this is set to continue into the weekend.

There are reports of snowfall in mountainous areas along the borders of Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal, as well as, in the Free State and the Eastern and Western Cape.


Snow is considered a novelty by many South Africans since it is not seen often by most of us. When there has been significant snowfall many eager snow-seeking South Africans hop into their cars and travel out to areas where they can see fluffy white snow. 

For those who are eager to see real snow, there have been recent reports of heavy snowfall in the following areas:   


Calitzdorp is a quaint little town located on Route 62. It is nestled in the heart of the Klein Karoo in the Western Cape. This town is known as the port capital of South Africa, due to the quality of the port wines produced by local wine farmers. Calitzdorp is surrounded by the Swartberg Mountains, which are currently capped in snow.  


The Swartberg Mountains in the Western Cape are composed of two main mountain chains running along the northern edge of the semi-arid Little Karoo. Most of the Swartberg Mountains are above 2 000m high, making them the tallest mountains in the Western Cape. Residents in the area are currently marvelling at the more than average sprinkling of snow which has been received over the last 24 hours.


Rouxville, in the Free State, is located near the Drakensberg Mountain Range, and the Lesotho border. Residents of the town woke up to find their gardens and homesteads covered in a blanket of snow on Thursday.   


The Stormberg Mountains situated in the Eastern Cape are an easterly extension of the  Bamboesberge, which are part of the greater Drakensberg Mountains. They form part of the Amatola and Stormberg region where South Africa’s only ski resort, Tiffindell, is situated.

Residents of Dordrecht have reported a sprinkling of snow in the area over the last 24 hours.


The Langkloof Valley is part of the Cape Fold Mountains which are a short mountain range found between the Tsitsikamma and the Outeniqua Mountains. The valley is an area that stretches over 160 kilometres. The area is ideal for growing fruit, particularly apples and pears. Residents in this valley have witnessed magnificent snowfall over the last 24 hours.

Source : The South African More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.