Is Facebook Hoping To Gain More Influence In Asia With Stickers?

By Justin Lafferty 

If you looked at Facebook’s introduction of stickers for messaging (snuck into the latest iOS update) and wondered why they’re on your phone, you’re probably not the target demographic. Stickers, which are essentially supersized emoticons, have been a popular feature in Asian messaging applications such as Line and KakaoTalk. Not only do people use stickers, they pay for them. Stickers have been a major revenue source for Line, and it appears that Facebook may try to enter that market.

It’s worth noting that right now, all of the stickers available on Facebook’s iOS app are free. But as with most other Facebook products, the introduction is usually free, with paid or ad-featured options added later. It will be interesting to see what Facebook does with stickers in the future, as they are apparently quite popular in Asia — where the social network has 153 million daily active users.

Japanese messaging app Line has seen great success using the stickers that Facebook is just now adopting. According to App Annie, Line is the highest-grossing social networking app in the world. Line gained more than 50 million users much faster than Twitter or Facebook.

Pete Davison of sister site Inside Mobile Apps explained how stickers helped Line become so popular:

The app’s monetization primarily stems from the sale of virtual stickers, which can be posted into chat windows as a means of visual expression. A selection of default stickers is provided to users upon downloading the app for the first time, and additional stickers are made available for free during special events such as the Olympics. Naver also makes use of sticker offers to promote its other Line-branded apps, with free packs of special stickers available for those who download and install them.

While some U.S. users may be puzzled (and even intrigued) by stickers, it seems like this could be a new monetization stream for Facebook, once it gets users accustomed to the fact that they are available. Or it could just be a way to get even more Asian users to engage with the Facebook app more.

But while Facebook may be looking to cut into the sticker market, there’s also a chance that it might not catch on. Remember Poke, the Facebook iOS app that was supposed to be a competitor to Snapchat? In that instance, when Facebook was trying to break into a market where there was already a dominating presence, the social network lost big.

It will be interesting to see if this evolves into a popular feature, or just something that is lost in the background for most users.

Screenshots courtesy of Inside Facebook.