With Q3 earnings in the books, most Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) investors and industry pundits are relishing in yet another blow-out quarter. The success of video spots across the site and the introduction of mainstream ads on Facebook's fast-growing photo-sharing property Instagram helped to positively impact its top and bottom lines.
But the most impressive metrics Facebook delivered in Q3 illustrated its continued user growth. Sure, investors love to see Facebook continuing to increase sales quarter in and quarter out, but the platform's monthly average user (MAU) base of 1.55 billion (1.01 billion of which are daily active users) is up 14% YoY and remains the true driver of social media giant's success.
The primary reason for such impressive user engagement levels is that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg isn't afraid to "tweak" the site to make it more enjoyable, and keep users coming back for more. And he's at it again.
It's the little things
There was a time not long ago that Facebook was the gateway to success for game developers, notably King Digital's (NYSE:KING) "Candy Crush" suite of games. As the world has gone mobile, more gamers are opting for non-Facebook avenues to play, but that certainly hasn't prevented the Candy Crush and similar games of the world from becoming wildly popular.
The recent decision by gaming behemoth Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) to spend $5.9 billion for King Digital and its Candy Crush game make it pretty clear life beyond Facebook is going just fine. But that doesn't mean gaming on Facebook has stopped altogether. In fact, for regular users one of Facebook's most annoying features are the seemingly endless number of "invites" from friends to join them in a game of Candy Crush, or some other inane alternative.
The incessant gaming invites are a fairly minor nuisance, but they're a nuisance just the same. Just how irksome are those invites? In a recent Q&A session held while Zuckerberg was touring India, the question of stopping all those notifications was voted the number one user issue ahead of the gathering. The good news for the annoyed MAU masses is Zuckerberg said he's already got Facebook's head of platform development at work on the "problem," and it will be remedied.
No word on when those annoying notifications will actually disappear, but the fact Zuckerberg is listening to his 1.55 billion MAUs demonstrates his willingness to "fix" the user experience when needed.
What's the big deal?
In and of itself, addressing the never-ending gaming notifications may not seem overly important, particularly from an investor's perspective. After all, revenues are still growing, as are MAUs, mobile usage, and most every other tangible area across Facebook. But as it relates to the all-important user engagement levels, addressing "little" things like those pesky invites speaks directly to Zuckerberg's recognition that when it's all said and done, continually improving the user experience is critical to Facebook's long-term success.
Along those same lines, Zuckerberg also said recently that Facebook's "other" folder, which was little more than a collection of spam-laden missives from non-friends, has been replaced with a "message request" button. The new means of reaching out to virtually anyone on Facebook will now be its Messenger app, giving users the ability to "find and privately connect with anyone you need to reach, but only be reached by the people you want to communicate with."
Improved video viewing is yet another enhancement recently implemented to give users a more YouTube-like feel while remaining on Facebook's site. Once again, not only will the new video feature improve the user experience, just as with ending the annoying game notifications and doing away with the "other" message folder, each of these seemingly minor steps should help improve Facebook's engagement levels even further.
The old adage "don't fix it if it's not broken" is true, but that doesn't mean even a social media site as wildly popular as Facebook shouldn't be "tweaked" now and again based on user feedback. And that's exactly what the recent improvements are about: keeping users happy and on the platform, and maintaining Facebook's position as the king of social media.
Tim Brugger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Activision Blizzard and Facebook. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.