When I published the first version of my Social Media Landscape in 2008, I was far from expected to see them overtake the web and shift the balance of power. And yet, here we are, 10 years laters with social platforms reigning supreme on the digital world. If the landscape hasn’t changed much since last year, advertisers still struggle to adapt / conform to the mobile-first paradigm. With this post, I invite you to reflect on the last trends and practices.
Si vous cherchez la version française, elle est ici : Panorama des médias sociaux 2017.
Facebook won (for real)
If I had small doubts last year about Facebook’s supremacy, the picture is much more clear today: Facebook is the dominant media of the 21th century. Between its nearly 2 B users for the main platform, Messenger and WhatsApp going north of 1.2B and Instagram which finally managed to strangle Snapchat, Facebook’s domination is undisputed, especially among advertisers. The -presumed- next steps are the following: strengthen it’s freshly launched personal assistant and relaunch it’s developer platform.
Google and Twitter remain the two other main pillar of the social ecosystem
Facing this domination, we meet the old same major players: Google, which benefits from YouTube and Gmail’s power (among other online properties) ; and Twitter, which is surprisingly resilient despite its death being regularly announced. Yes, Twitter is dwarfed by Facebook, but this social platform remains a powerful sounding board for journalists, VIPs and politicians (from Donald Trump to Narendra Modi to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan). Before announcing anew it’s death, I advise you to wait and witness what they will manage to achieve with their light version focused on emerging markets and their new roadmap.
Numerous services and few local particularities
Social media is a very dense ecosystem of online services gravitating around Facebook, Google and Twitter. Let me be more precise: we are dealing with occidental social media, I remove from last year’s diagram all Asian social platforms, especially Chinese ones which are very country focused.
This brings us to the traditional circle-shaped diagram to illustrate social media’s diversity:
All these services are sorted depending on usage:
- Publishing with blog platforms (WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, Medium, Wix, Weebly, Ghost, SquareSpace…, wikis (Wikipedia, Wikia…), hybrid publishing / sharing services like Tumblr ou MySpace, and I even make room for new decentralized platform Mastodon ;
- Sharing platforms for videos (YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion), live videos (Twitch, Periscope), documents (SlideShare, Scribd…), data (data.world), photos (Instagram, Flickr, Imgur, Giphy, 500px…), inspirations (Pinterest, Behance, Dribbble…), and music (Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, SoundCloud…) ;
- Mobile messaging (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, iMessage, BBM, Android Message, Allo, Duo, Telegram, Signal, Skype, Kik, Viber, Tango…), visual messaging (Tribe, TapTalk) and classic messaging – webmails – which still gather hundreds of millions of users (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo Mail) ;
- Discussing platforms (Github, Reddit, Facebook, Groups, 4chan, Tapatalk…), comment systems (Disqus, Muut, Discourse, GraphComment…), and collaborating FAQ (Quora, StackExchange, Ask…) ;
- Professional messaging (Slack, HipChat, Chime, TalkSpirit, Facebook Workplace, Hangouts Chat, Meet, Microsoft Teams…) and collaboration platforms (Yammer, Chatter, Dropbox, Evernote…) ;
- Professional networking (LinkedIn, Viadeo, Xing, Plaxo…), dating services (Ning, Nextdoor, Houzz…) and meeting services (Meetup, Eventbrite).
As always, this diagram is cluttered, but it perfectly mirrors the diversity of the social ecosystem. If you are looking for alternative representations, take a look at the World Map of Social Networks and the Social Media Map.
Regarding usages, not much has changed, we are simply witnessing an intensification of existing trends:
- Most online/social time is spent of smartphones. Smartphone is the main delivery device for online content and services, there is no argue on this point. If you want to perform on social media, you will have to perform on mobile. This means Producing content specifically tailored to smartphone screens (ex: vertical videos…).
- Visual content rules. This is a direct consequence to the rise of smartphones and the fact that social media users tend to publish less and less in favor of « simple » consumption. As an advertiser, you need to make things easier for your audience by relying more on visual content (pictures, videos, infographics…) and native ads (ex: branded stickers and emoji).
- Live videos. First, there was Meerkat, then Periscope, then Twitch, then YouTube and Finally Facebook. Live video seems to be the new trending format. Past the initial shock of first live suicide and murder, practices are gaining traction among brands. Thus, platforms provide advertisers with new native ads format. It will never be too late for you to jump in the bandwagon, as long as you have interesting things to broadcast.
- Ephemeral videos are losing to stories. « On social media, everyone will-be daily-famous for 15 minutes » (this quote is mine). The will to make a lasting impression seems to be stronger than the need for showing… whatever-you-need-to-show-without-having-to-assume-for-the-consequences. Thus, nearly every major social platform have adopted the Snapchat-debuted stories (Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter, Medium…). This clearly makes things harder for brands by fractioning users’ attention inside social applications (« schizophrenia is the new black« ) (this quote is also mine). Do not even think of tinkering 2 or 3 things in your garage, in order to catchup with competition, you will have to seriously invest in content production resources.
- Social commerce is here to stay. Whether it is to inspire, nurture qualified leads for your e-commerce website or your physical PoS, all the tools you need to stimulate buying behavior or fidelize existing clients are available from major social platforms. It is now up to you to design the most elegant advertising journey and to avoid saturation. Free advice: explore micro-influencers as potential marketing lever, but be aware of their shortcomings.
Once again, none of this is new, we are just witnessing an amplification of existing trends.
Social is the new TV
I still meet to many clients which are deeply convinced of the importance of social media… but only grant them a small part of their advertising budget (usually between 5 and 10%). An insane behavior since consumers spend most on their free time on social properties (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat…). As more and more TV viewers are switching their attention to smartphone screens, advertising budgets should definitively follow eye balls. Let me clarify this: if your customers spend 50% of their free time on social media, than you should spend 50% of your budget on content creation / distribution on social media. Enough said.
Allow me to re-clarify: if TV is not dead, we all agree on this, it undoubtedly lost its position of historic leader as a media. Within the large « new media » family, social media stands for being the new sheriff in town, whether it is on top of the tunnel (hosting and sourcing content), below the funnel (distribution) or in the middle (identity management, messaging…). Social media is the internet. Social media is media.