Facebook and Twitter Waning Leaders article by Mark Colestock

Facebook and Twitter Waning Leaders

Should businesses consider investing in alternate social media networks?


Facebook and Twitter have for a while been the big social media kids on the block.  Their function and reach are formidable.  However will they remain the big players, or will other social media networks start to overtake them?  Some recent discoveries got me watching the social media a bit closer.

 I was recently talking with my 16 year old niece about her social media use.  She had been an avid Facebook user, but in the last 6 months, had gotten tired of Facebook, which was also taking too much time.  She has now shifted her interest to community topical blogs where she interacts with a smaller more focused group on a her interest topics.  The change in her use of social media and Facebook surprised me.  However, as I researched this information, I found this is part of a growing trend that Facebook has been aware of for some time.  Concern over this trend is one of the reasons Facebook bought Instagram last spring shortly after their IPO.  Mixing in a growing trend towards more mobile devices has been accelerating the Facebook departure pace.  People are looking for friendlier mobile apps that match their social media inclinations.  Facebook discovered that Instagram had a friendlier mobile app then they did, but was Instagram’s creativity and difference worth the $1B price tag?   

So which social media path are the younger users taking?

Social media networks such as Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram are gaining in popularity with younger users, as some are starting to grow tired of Facebook.   I don’t think Facebook will go away any time soon.  However, social media specialists need to understand who their client’s target audience will be and what trends are driving that target audience.  If young people are a business’s target demographic, then the future trends they set need to be closely watched.  Recent statistics showed Instagram for the first time beating out Twitter for daily visitors.   Small statistical bumps don’t always a trend make, but if those changes continue in the months ahead, then business may want to reconsider where to put their social media marketing efforts. 

The constant we have in Social Media is Change.

The social media landscape for user choices is constantly changing, with new players trying to take on the giants.  However the user demographics themselves speak loudly when they start to pull large numbers of users toward the new Social Media players.  How are the social media giants going to keep a creatively fresh appeal for young users?  As one part of Facebook is waning for young users they picked up a rising star in Instagram.  However these new social media stars often mean that businesses have to shift their investment energies in new directions.  Will Facebook attempt to ease that transition by finding a way to merge Instagram and Facebook, something like Google did with Google Local and Google Places?  Or will businesses need to constantly move their investment to new social media outlets?  

I believe businesses are looking for solid return on investments that effectively bring them more customer business.  If the new social media players open up new forms of marketing communications to customers that are not possible with Facebook and Twitter, then investments in new social media area may provide the return they are looking for.  However for now Facebook and Twitter are still the reining leaders.

Mark Colestock is an Internet consultant with WSI- a full services web solution provider in Minneapolis & St. Paul.

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