Social media trends: winners and losers

28 March 2017 | Focus | Thomas Peacock

Once upon a time marketing gurus spent time trying to predict which new social media apps would be the next big thing. In recent years, with few exceptions, there haven’t been any breakout stars. Instead, more platforms are deciding to diversify their functionality leading to some interesting trends:

  • Companies are increasingly focusing their efforts on fewer platforms. Instead of intensifying their efforts across the spectrum, companies are choosing to focus their social media spend on the platforms that provide the best returns. With the introduction of Facebook’s marketplace features and Instagram’s increasing business friendly utility, social media platforms are gearing up to benefit from this increased selectivity.
  • Social media platforms are in competition with social messaging apps like WhatsApp. Worldwide, social messaging apps are beginning to dominate the market, forcing the established social media platforms to adjust. It is noticeable that there is an increasing trend in adding messaging utilities to platforms that previously didn’t use them.
  • Social media platforms are beginning to incentivise content hosting rather than linking to external sites. Users are increasingly getting their news from social media platforms like Facebook. Consequently, platforms will begin to make it easier for content creators to upload content directly onto the platform rather than sharing links.
  • Analysts are already predicting the end of Twitter and the rise of Snapchat. While the barrage of bite-sized bits of news and updates can be stimulating, it is leading to a sense of fatigue. This trend is only expected to continue as users look for deeper and more detailed interactions. Meanwhile, Snapchat is set to expand its’ marketing and advertising opportunities and so take the lead in ‘in-the-moment’ storytelling.
  • Live streaming is making every phone a TV camera and every user a content provider. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube have all added to the trend of content driven by storytelling. Users are not only interested in learning about others but are increasingly arguing that they are walking a mile in somebody else’s shoes via social media. Both users and companies will need to evolve to keep pace with the storytelling aspect of the new social media landscape.

Analysts looking for losers in the social media market will find it hard to predict what’s to come. As in any industry, those who fail to adapt will find themselves pushed out of the market. Vine, Google Plus, and MySpace are all great case studies in failure to differentiate and adapt early on. With all of the big platforms adding features to reach crossover audiences, it is becoming increasingly necessary for each platform to differentiate. It is more likely that platforms will disappear as a result of business decisions or rebranding by parent companies rather than lack of user interest.

What does this mean for users and companies? Social media use and strategy will increasingly become a game of survival of the fittest. Both consumers and companies are going to need to focus on the platforms that offer them the most utility. Which platforms allow you to reach the most people and provide the best content? The winners in this market will be those that are the least restrictive and offer the most features, allowing the social aspect of social media to flourish.

Jameka Neil
27 March 2017

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