Facebook Celebrates Turning 12 With “Friends Day” Videos

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Now Facebook has its own holiday it calls “Friends Day.” On February 4th, the social network turns 12 years old. But in typical self-less Zuckerberg fashion, Mark said “rather than having this birthday that focuses on us, we should make sure that the world focuses on what’s important.” Namely, its users.

So today Facebook is sending everyone a Friends Day video card featuring photos them and their friends. Similar to its year in review videos, you can edit the clip if you want to nix anything awkward and then share it. There are some Friends Day stickers, too.

Example of one of the Friends Day video cards

Friends Day PromoFacebook’s also reminding people how close it makes everyone in the world. It’s doubled in size from 750 million to over 1.59 billion users since 2011, but its network has actually grown denser. That means the average two users are just 3.57 degrees of separation away from each other now, if you were playing that Kevin Bacon game, down from 3.74 degrees away in 2011.

That might sound like a silly stat but it’s pretty remarkable considering Facebook’s push to make phone numbers obsolete and let everyone in the world contact each other over Messenger.

Facebook did throw itself a little private pre-birthday party at its Menlo Park headquarters this week. It invited 18 users from Saudi Arabia, Louisiana, Hungary, and other places to share how Facebook changed their lives.

Facebook Friends Day Event at HQ

Photo source: Jennifer Leahy for Facebook

Cute. It’s all very cute.

But there’s a stat that’s perhaps more important than Facebook’s years on this planet, user count, or revenue, which are all remarkably high. It’s called “stickiness” or the ratio of daily active users to monthly active users.

See, monthly active users is wildly imprecise. Whether you open it for 5 seconds a month or spend hours each day on Facebook, you count as 1 MAU. That’s a pretty easy bar to hit for a service as ubiquitous and that generates as many notifications as Facebook. Daily active users is much more accurate for assessing popularity of a service. As something grows, though, that DAU number will go up without telling you much about the health of the network and the loyalty of its existing users.

Facebook’s feel-good Friends Day commercial

But by dividing DAU by MAU, you find out what percentage of the monthly users are coming back each day — the stickiness. If that percentage grows, you know the service is becoming more interesting and engaging to the people on it. If it shrinks, it means people might still visit occasionally, but they don’t care as much. It’s becoming uncool.

So with Facebook now reaching its tweenage years, and plenty of surveys and anecdotes claiming it isn’t cool with kids any more, you’d expect the social network’s stickiness to be going down.

But it’s not. It’s gone up from 62% in 2013 to 65% now. And in the all important US & Canada region, it’s gone up from 73.1% to 77.1%. Facebook users are using Facebook more now than they used to. That’s something worth the company celebrating.

Facebook Q4 2015 DAU