Since the first appearance of virtual Facebook suicides came to light - where you cancel your account in order to cut all ties with the Facebook platform - I gloated, along with many others, that the much maligned platform was beginning to look very ‘late empire’.
European social media researchers have now proved this to be true. Their recent study has found that many, particularly teenagers, have decided to give Facebook the cold shoulder and shift their ‘selfies’, life-journals, snarky comments etc to greener pastures.
Most of us remember how MySpace went from uber-cool to corporate darling to ghost town relatively fast. (In 2008 Facebook overtook MySpace as top-dog of social media in terms of visitor numbers and the rest is history.)
Well, history is repeating itself! Now we have a powerful indicator of the decline of Facebook - the key 16-19 demographic feel smothered and spied on by their parents - who have learnt how to use Facebook - so they are migrating to Snapchat and WhatsApp in high numbers - despite Mark Zuckerberg’s denials.
Interestingly, both newcomers are much simpler and cruder platforms. Plus, they have the raw allure of frontier country - what’s not to love!
Here’s how WhatsApp is taking off, according to former Samsung analyst Bruce Krulwich:
Teens and young adults are increasingly using WhatsApp not only for traditional messaging, but also for the more general and long-term “staying in touch,” including sharing status updates and pictures, that has traditionally been the heart and soul of social networking on Facebook.
High school classes have created a WhatsApp group for the whole class, not for serious messages that everyone needs to see, but for sharing status updates and pictures. Their parents are happy, because using WhatsApp avoids a lot of the personal safety concerns of sharing personal details on Facebook.
And, here’s the lowdown on SnapChat from marketing expert Amy Birch:
SnapChat allows the user to take a picture, or record a short video, and send it to friends. Once the image/video has been opened and viewed, the message is gone – deleted from the phone, from the app, and from the SnapChat servers.
The user sets a specific time for each image or video that is being sent. This allows the recipient to view the message for a limited time, usually up to 10 seconds, before it disappears forever. It allows quick fire conversation to occur between users, in a similar way that Vine does, to get the message across quickly.
So what do we social media and content marketing monkeys - people paid by organisations to tell them how to communicate their wares on social networks - have to do?
We simply have to analyse if, and how, our clients can use these tools. They may in fact prove to be a criminal waste of time - but I wouldn’t bet on it! SnapChat is already a hit with business who are on that particular bandwagon.
We certainly don’t want to lose any sleep over these tectonic movements in the social web. Why? Because the medium by which a story is told and a conversation is had is secondary to the content it conveys.
This is comforting news for us creatives, writers, photographers, designers and content makers.
What we do is put the fuel in the tanks of all the social networks. We illustrate how our client's products, services and causes are of real value via the magic of words and pictures. And most importantly, we facilitate connections and conversations that wouldn’t otherwise happen.
No matter what platform, be it Facebook, SnapChat or Instagram, producing quality content should remain the focus of digital marketing.