Social Media Growing Pains Point Toward Maturity

The day Kylie Jenner slammed Snapchat back in February, wiping out $1.3 billion in market value, she used a different social media channel to do so: Twitter. Perhaps nothing demonstrates the ebb and flow of social media as much as this one tweet.

Despite declining user numbers reported by Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat in half-year results, social media is not dead. Analysts seem to think that after years of explosive growth, such drops are natural and not cause for alarm.

You could say social media is maturing and settling into its adolescence.

Services and technologies come in and out of vogue — remember MySpace or Friendster? The Guardian surmises that Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are merely having moment of deep reflection. “Snap blames its downturn in user growth to an unpopular app redesign,” the Guardian reports. “It’s more complex for Facebook and Twitter, as external factors like politics and bad actors force them to confront things like privacy, security and fake news.”

The slowing growth, according to CNBC, may indicate that Facebook, with its suite of social apps, has actually tightened its grip on the space. The Silicon Valley giant said in July that 2.5 billion people use its family of apps each month.

Still, if you look at how much marketers are publishing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, you can see social media has not peaked, says Mario Natarelli, managing partner at marketing firm MBLM. “Consumers themselves are still very active on those platforms. You’re not seeing triple-digit growth, but the time spent, the level of engagement is all there.”

In fact, MBLM reports that YouTube is a new addition to the top three most intimate brands for millennials, based on the firm’s 2018 Brand Intimacy Report. “We believe its rise is due to our culture’s continued need for escape and the brand’s immediate, diverse content, personalities and growing offerings in movies and live TV. YouTube is clearly an established ritual in the lives of many millennials today,” Natarelli explained.

The 2018 Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that the social media landscape is defined by a mix of long-standing trends and newly emerging narratives. Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) now report that they are Facebook users, and roughly three-quarters of those users access Facebook on a daily basis. With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook.

In order to make sense of these fluctuating trends, Jonathan Foley, the founder of @Positivity and @Societyfeelings, and CEO of WULF Marketing, says marketers need to do their homework and create a budget.

“Today, Facebook and just about every other social media platform has become pay to play,” says Foley. “And it’s safe to assume this trend will continue in the same direction. So, why wait? Brands and thought leaders need to start investing in building social pages for themselves — or even acquiring and building a variety of social pages so that you can own as many audiences as possible.”

According to Joe Marinucci, founder and CEO of Digital Media Solutions, the role of social media marketing will continue to evolve.

“Combining the power of continuous reach and the ability to optimize and target will elevate the winners on this platform to the next level,” Marinucci says.

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