This year, a popular topic has been the decline of social media networks such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Much due to the study of Princeton researchers “Epidemiological Modeling of Online Social Network Dynamics” study, in which they state, “Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out”. From another point of view, per this Cornell University report, many Facebook users delete or suspend their accounts due to issues such as privacy, data misuse, productivity, and other measures.
So, is our social media site usage declining where people are deleting, departing, and taking breaks because, like an infectious disease, it will eventually die out? Or could this purely be speculation of which is prematurely evaluated, not taking into account that a disease can reemerge and privacy issues fixed? Remember, MySpace rose from the dead.
Facebook’s Third Quarter 2013 Operational Highlights show that they have an increase of 25% of their daily active users since the Q3 of 2012 and an 18% increase of their monthly active users. Their mobile monthly active users increased 45% over the past year. That is no shocker since more people are transitioning from their personal computers to mobile devices.
Privacy is a Concern
Privacy is a main issue that consumers and businesses are having a hard time adjusting to. Not even mentioning the fact that the government has their hands on about every social profile because of a direct or indirect connection, but privacy is limited based on the ability to share content.
One thing with privacy is the accessibility of your information posted on the internet. A selfie goes on your profile and there are safety settings in place to help prevent the spread of it. But you never know who will grab it.
Sending your photo on a private mobile messenger service is much more private and safe than placing it on a social media site for all to see. Eliminating a permanent digital footprint is very important for teens and young adults, as some of the photos are not very innocent.
Social media sites were meant to keep up with friends and family members, not their friends, friends, friend. Now, all age groups are finding that personal messenger sites offer exactly what they are looking for.
The Mistake – Looking at Facebook as the Face of Social Media
Part of the misunderstanding that social media is dying is the mistake of looking at Facebook as the face of social media. Social media has categories and Facebook is the social networking category of social media. LinkedIn is the professional networking category. FourSquare is the geo-social networking category. Other social media sites are the video sharing network, YouTube or the microblogging-networking category of Twitter, WordPress the blogging site, and Flicker, the photo-sharing site.
These aren’t the only social media networking sites either. Just as Facebook, they are the leader of their categories. We’ve seen MySpace diminish, but once again rise. So who’s to say that social media is dying all together?
We’ve Lost Human Connection
A large portion of the disconnect from social media sites is the loss of the personal connection, the human connection. In the beginning of sites such as Twitter, we heard from the CEO’s, the managers, and other key decision makers. We knew who stood behind the brand. Now, we have no clue how these people feel regarding their products. Today, it’s only company announcements. Nobody from management or even general employees is talking to us from the companies any longer.
Social Media Sites are Adding New Functionalities
One of the strengths and weaknesses of social media sites, points towards new and exciting features and site functionality. Introducing new functionalities brings in new users as well as changes the norm for current users.
Current users can and do get bored, causing them to slow down their social media network access. The buzz of a new app can bring them back. You’ll see this as Facebook has integrated their standalone Facebook Messenger app to use instead of the entire Facebook app. Facebook has also expanded their network with the acquisition of Instagram and the WhatsApp.
Teens are Moving Towards Apps Their Parents Don’t Share
Depending upon the industry, teens are a viable consumer market. So their continued use of Facebook is important for many companies. Their gradual decline of the use of social media has been seen because of the increase of active adult users of these sites.
The younger generation does not want their parents knowing their every move, nor embarrassing them with an actual comment on their page or friend’s page for the world to see. However, standalone messaging apps are standing in place and growing these networks. So, these very apps the social media sites have created could be the very threat they should grow weary of.
People want Real Time Communication
No longer do you have to stalk these sites for friends, you can have real-time chat with a friend or groups of friends on a messaging app. You can connect with them and pinpoint the exact location of a friend in your area.
The Effect on Businesses
Let’s discuss the problems businesses have with the decline of social media usage today. The main issue is that businesses are unsure how to use these sites anymore. So, as time goes on, it becomes a technical challenge. It’s not that they lack the resources, it’s more so the time to adapt to each new resource or decide which is best for their organization. With the change of who is exposed to what advertisements, a business must decide if they will get the ROI that they desire.
One key focus of a business on social media sites is what content and media to place on there to generate the best ROI. Conversation has practically died out on social media sites. Now, consumers are switching to conversation platforms, such as messenger services.
As a business, they aren’t able to communicate with their customers, either to hear what they have to say about a product or express to them what is going on with new products. Their communication is limited to a one-way street. For instance, on a Facebook business page, consumers are allowed to comment, yet it’s a tiny comment section available. Even with the recent updates, conversations are hard to follow, such as who is responding to whom.
The setup is not useful in deciphering what is going on in a thread as opposed to a real-time conversation in a messenger service. It is, however, perfect to follow how many likes and shares a post receives to validate a positive consumer response. In contrast, there probably is an app for that.
In conclusion, we can’t say that social media sites are dying, rather, there is an intermediate shift. We are in need of better content to push as well as new features to bring the user count back up. Social media sites do need more innovative ideas to help meet expectations for all involved. This must be done while maintaining users’ privacy.