** Throughout the semester, it’s become clear that nothing is set in stone when it comes to digital business and social media. Sometimes, a single feature at the right time and the right place can make it all. Following my first blog post on social media trends and a series of more focused blog posts, I will now focus on social platforms, as we know them today. What to expect from each one of them? Are they here to last? What do the figures say? Is there still room for some more?
An overview of the social media planet to date
Facebook – “The Social Network”.Facebook has been revolutionizing the social media environment and is sure making a lot of money. Investors are quite confident about its future, as it’s trying to both monetize more and more its activity and diversify it to become a global tech giant, thanks to VR and AI. Facebook has been working a lot on its ads revenue, which has been driving the company’s growth by a 57% year-over-year increase, and representing now 97% of its total revenue.
What does it mean for companies? For companies, being on Facebook is mandatory if they want to reach out and engage people. Not being on Facebook hurts the brand image of a company, especially among Millennials who expect to be able to reach out to the brand that way. Yet, organic search is now dead and companies have to pay more and more if they want to be visible online. More here: http://hashtagio.com/facebookzero-rip-organic-reach-on-facebook/
InstagramLast fall, 300 million people actively used Instagram (source: Facebook), with 33% of US teens using it as their main platform, compared to 24% for Twitter and 14% for Facebook. Yet, partly due to the rise of Snapchat, Instagram seems to slowly become saturated. In Spring 2016, 28% of teens consider Snapchat as their first platform, before Instagram, that has dropped to 27%. Besides, over the past year, the engagement rate and the average follower growth have both declined. The organic growth is dropping (April 2015: 1,95% – June 2015: 0,49% – July 2015: 0,34%) and people just post less and less.
What does it mean for companies? The decline in organic growth and engagement rates leads to believe that the platform is becoming saturated with more brands joining and posting content. Therefore brands, which want to post on Instagram, need to pay a lot of attention to the relevancy of the content they post to their audience. They have to post to engage not to just show their presence.
Although YouTube was still not profitable last year, its revenues have been skyrocketing over the past year (+60%) and it has more viewers aged 18-49 on mobile alone than any US cable network. As the online advertising market is set to explode and to reach $17 billion in 2017, YouTube is one of the best positioned in the market, compared to Facebook (its main competitor), as it has a more mature monetization platform that seems to attract the best content. Besides, YouTube has just launched a new paid service that might become Google’s next big growth driver.
What does it mean for companies? As the online advertising market is set to explode, YouTube offers a type of advertisement, TrueView, in which advertisers pay when viewers choose to watch an advertisement, not when an ad is viewed. Definitely an asset for brands and a guarantee for the money they spend.
Across the 2.2b users on Google and while the “active” profiles on Google+ amounts to 111 million users, only 6.7 million users have 50+ posts ever and more than 90% of the people with profiles on Google+ have never posted something publicly. The recent dismantlement of the different components, like Photos and Hangout, led to think that Google+ hadn’t achieved the expected performance as a standalone product and that it was pretty much dead. Yet, Google has made some new changes on the platform, leading to think that it might not be completely dead for the company just yet.
What does it mean for companies? The changes made by Google+ make it easier for business wanting to reach people who are passionate about something easier. Google+ tries to focus on communities and it might be particularly useful for small businesses. Yet, the uncertain future of the platform suggests being careful if investing on it.
Snapchat is definitely the trendiest social platform of them all, the Khaleesi of the situation. First mobile-only platform, It has been at the right place at the right time. With 4 billion views a day in April 2015, 6 billion in November 2015 and 8 billion in February 2016, it is matching Facebook’s latest video numbers. While videos are set to explode and Facebook’s betting on live streams, Snapchat is betting big on the stories feature. Although it doesn’t have a billion active users like Facebook, it is becoming more and more trendy among young users, as 60% of millennial smartphone users use the app. Among teenagers, it beats every other social media platform.
What does it mean for companies? Snapchat has become the platform of choice to connect with young audiences. It is a fun way of communication and a lot of brands actually have tested the waters, like CNN for the coverage of the presidential elections.
#riptwitter. Twitter seems to be on a rough path. In the first quarter of 2016, it has disappointed investors as its users growth has hit a wall. Despite a series of change to make Twitter easier and more engaging, the company’s share price is declining.
What does it mean for companies? Still unclear. The company is working on new changes, including some to the timeline. They have introduced a new feature “Moments”, but it’s still unclear how they will monetize it. For now, Twitter is still an engaging platform (3rd platform of choice for millennials). Yet, figures are declining pretty fast. TBC.
Despite critics, LinkedIn is doing great. The membership has risen by 19% to 433 million and the revenues have increased by 35% to $861 million. In the past few months, updates have been made in an effort to drive more engagement, including the launch of an updated Recruiter app and a tool for college students to find their first full-time job.
What does it mean for companies? Still a great place to stay in touch with connections. LinkedIn is working on making it more effective to find applicants / recruiters.
With 70% of women users, Pinterest is the online version of a scrapbook. It has grown revenue by 5 times between 2014 and 2015 and might go public in 2016, after being recently valued at $11 billion.
What does it mean for companies? Pinterest is an ideal platform for advertisement, but it has taken a soft approach to advertising so far. Yet, people are much more likely to purchase something they’ve seen on Pinterest as any other user on another social platform, which makes it very interesting. Sephora is quite an example in this area: see my blog post here.
Is there still room for other social media platforms?
According to Casey Neistat, famous YouTuber and CEO of Beme, yes there is. And there are actually tons of new social platforms that are just waiting for their big breakthrough moment. Just to name a few: Wanelo (type of social shopping app – very graphic + easy to shop), SlideShare (help users create presentations and videos with a professional appeal), Ello (all-purpose social media network without any advertising), etc.
Will they all be famous? Probably not. Will there be a new Snapchat or Instagram? Most certainly yes. The game is on. Brace yourself.