/ Si vous cherchez la version française de cet article, elle est là : Panorama des médias sociaux 2013 /
Every year for the last 5 years, I publish a social media landscape (see past editions from 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012). I assume I won’t teach you anything by saying social media are now part of every day life of individuals, brands, organizations and media (journalists, celebrities, politicians…). Once considered with disdain, social platform like Wikipedia or Twitter have completely changed or way to consume and interact with information. Services like YouTube or Facebook also transformed the way we entertain ourselves. If you regularly read about social media, you should know how serious social media have changed the web. To make a long story short: the web is social media, and social media is the web.
This being said, this shortcut does not translate the countless evolution of these platforms and the usage they generate. If the big players are still the same, social media are an expression and interaction playground in constant evolution. If 2012 was the concentration year marked by the buy-out of Posterous and Instagram, 2013 will be the year of diversification with the emergence of new comers, especially on mobile devices. But first things first, we shall begin with an analysis of trends.
What are 2013 trends?
As I have just stated it, social media is an ever-changing complex ecosystem: new services are created, other disappear, most evolve. The following diagram, from last year’s landscape, illustrate this evolution:
Last year’s losers where the followings:
- Large social platforms like Posterous and Netlog, the first one was purchased and closed by Twitter, the second one did not achieve its pivot and is now nearly abandoned
- Social games which where muted into dedicated game silos from major social platforms (see: Zynga.com Makes Facebook Connect Optional As It Looks To Build An Independent Platform For Players And Developers)
- Social location mobile applications like Foursquare, which is slowly declining
- Social commerce solutions providers, which didn’t delivered what they promised
The 2013 edition of my landscape is therefore reduced from categories like « Playing« , « Buying » and « Localization« . Some players have been removed, but others have been kept as they try to reinvent themselves, like MySpace or Digg.
Last year’s winners are the followings:
- Picture-based sharing services like Instagram and Pinterest
- Mobile sharing / chating applications like SnapChat or WhatsApp which ave been growing like crazy (WhatsApp “Bigger Than Twitter” With Over 200M Monthly Active Users, 8B Inbound And 12B Outbound Messages Daily)
- Asian social platforms which are slowly trying to invade western markets like Weixin / WeChat, Japan’s Line or Twitter copycat Weibo (see China Social Media Landscape 2013)
Even if Asian internet users are outnumbering occidental one’s, mobile devices supremacy is the key success factors. I am deeply convinced that social media and mobility are two faces of the same coin: one’s success is benefic to the other. As it is a non-sense to envision social media appart from the web, mobility is one of its key component (There is no Mobile Internet).
Otherwise, you will notice that there is still three major absents (Amazon, Microsoft and Apple), which only observe from long distance and try some shy initiatives (So.cl from Microsoft, Ping from Apple). Therefore, we still have the same top three:
- Facebook, which dominant position begins to be problematic: since everybody is on Facebook, it is harder and harder to grab users’ attention. If Mark Z. and his fellows managed to launch some interesting innovations (graph search, new news feed, Home), the new advertising offering and the inability to appeal to younger audience raises many questions (Has Facebook Lost Faith in Social Ads?, Teens Are Bored With Facebook)
- Twitter is working hard to be considered as a media with all the second screen initiatives, new cards system, the Vine mobile app and the upcoming Music service which begins to surface.
- Google is still stalking the others with a growing number of users (Google+ moves up to second place in social networks) and a constant flow of new features (communyties, sign-in, local reviews…).
Enough with trends, lets now discover the new landscape.
Social Media Landscape 2013
Facebook, Twitter and Google are at the center of the social media ecosystem, but many contenders can be found in each category:
- Publishing with blogging platforms (WordPress, Blogger, Live Journal, TypePad, Over-Blog…) and wikis (Wikipedia, Wikia, Mahalo…)
- Sharing services for pictures, links, videos, music, products… (Delicious, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TheFancy, YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Spotify, Deezer, SoundCloud, MySpace, Slideshare…)
- Discussing with knowledge platforms (Quora, Github, Reddit, StackExchange…), mobile chat applications (Skype, Kik, WhatsApp, SnapChat…), and their Asian counterparts (WeChat, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, KakaoTalk, Line…)
- Networking for BtoC audiences (Badoo, Tagged…) and professionals (LinkedIn, Viadeo, Xing…), as well as Russian and Asian social networks (VKontakte, Qzone, RenRen, Mixi)
As you can notice it, there has been a lot of change in the Discussing area, especially with mobile-first new comers.
What Brands Need To Know
The aim of this diagram is not to simply list social platforms, but to provide you with the keys to understanding. Several main facts are important to notice for brands:
- Social media’s force comes from its diversity. Facebook act as a catalyst for this complex ecosystem, but it should have never been this successful without other platforms’ content and conversations. Therefore, social media have to be addressed globally, and not only Facebook which tends to mute « small » brands (smaller than Red Bull or Nike, i.e. 99% of brands).
- Teen’s attention is very hard to capture and to retain. If opening a Facebook profile is the first thing they do when entering high school, teens are quickly moving to mobile apps which does not leave trails of their interactions and where they can hang out together (without their parents or teachers).
- Facebook shareholders’ appetite for profits is limitless and they are slowly forcing Mark Z. to raise revenue without thinking of the consequences (Facebook Seeks 7-Figure Price Tag for Summer Debut of Video Ads). Being depend to Facebook for your social presence is a real problem, as the bill will undoubtedly increase. The sooner you will achieve a diversified presence on social media, the better.
- If the social media landscape appears to be stable, do not forget yesterday’s giant has fallen in a couple of years (MySpace, Friendster…). Therefore, everything is still possible, one just have to be creative.
I won’t risk myself to provide you with a to-do list, as the subject is so complex. The best advice I can give you is to spend a minimum amount of your time following the social media field and trying new services, to better understand usage evolutions and to be able to identify trends and opportunities. I wish we’ll meet again next year for the 2014 update.