Emerging & Changing Social Media: What to know

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Tastes and trends in social media are in a constant state of change. There was a day when everyone was flocking to OG social media like Myspace, LinkedIn, or Reddit until new kids on the block came, like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, even YouTube. Then came new waves we are seeing with TikTok, formerly Musically, MeWe, Triller, Parler, and Clubhouse. Which of these platforms have stood the test of time and which have faded away?

Each was attempting to appeal to a different audience and  a different slice of the social media pie. To stay current and retain audiences, stalwarts have started copying the others successes. For example, Facebook and Instagram have offered new features to copy Snapchat and TikTok’s success, like Facebook Stories and Instagram Reels

Others, like Triller, try to replicate the TikTok experience, while social networks like Liker promise that your posts will immediately reach the right audience. Even gaming platforms are jumping into the mix, allowing marketers a more authentic connection with participants. 

The Basics

Social networking can have a social purpose, a business purpose, or both, through sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, among others. Social networking has become a significant base for marketers seeking to engage customers, with 79% of Americans regularly engaging on at least one social network. 

Knowing the difference between the popular and emerging social media platforms will help determine where to focus efforts to connect with people who share your point of view, educate and influence a larger community, and reach new markets.

Get to know the players by their numbers:

  • Facebook has nearly 2.8 billion active users a month, keeping it reigning as the top social media platform in the world since 2009. Although many have come along and tried to replace it, Facebook stands strong and is still one of the strongest tools for marketers for advertising campaigns. 
  • YouTube has 2 billion logged in active users (that number could be greater with people without accounts using YouTube). It is also a great place for marketers with 70% of people purchasing a product after seeing it on YouTube and the opportunity to use influencers. 
  • Instagram has one billion active users and is a great tool for business with 60% of users buying products recommended by Instagram and 200 million people visiting a business profile every day. 
  • TikTok– We cannot talk about emerging platforms without discussing the biggest breakout social media of 2020, TikTok with one billion active users, a 300% growth since 2019. If you are looking for a Gen Z or even millennial audience, head to TikTok. 
  • Reddit has 430 million active users every month. It has stood the test of time, coming out in 2005 and experiencing 53% growth from 2019-2021, making it the sixth most popular social network. Reddit requires strategy to comb through subreddits to find your audience but allows a natural engagement and even good fact finding of what your audience cares about. 
  • Twitter has 330 million active users monthly. However, if you are looking for a male-audience, 66% of active users are male, nearly 20% more than Instagram or Facebook. Tweets have a shorter shelf life than other platforms, but it is a great way to engage with your audience naturally and keep up with trends as seen with Wendy’s or Netflix.
  • Triller – as of August 2020, Triller had 65 million active users. This was in the middle of TikTok’s possible removal from the US market. At its height, Triller still had less than 1/10 of TikTok’s users and just 231 million downloads. Will TikTok be shaking in their boots this year? Without the threat of removal from the US, probably not. 
  • MeWe has just 16 million users and offers an ad-free, uncensored user experience. It is yet to be seen what this means for marketers, if users are truly looking for an ad-free experience. This idea did not work out for a similar app, Parler, which is already under investigation and completely offline. MeWe has already received criticism for allowing conspiracy theories and misinformation fly through their platform. 
  • Clubhouse is still in its infancy. As of this post, it remains invite only. It will offer no ads, but allow paid creator spots. By allowing creators the ability to make money, it is likely to gain growth this year and could create interesting opportunities for those looking to advertise on it. Clubhouse features virtual rooms where members can have live, unscripted discussions. No typing or texting like other social networks, Clubhouse is audio-based making it feel like an interactive podcast. 

Some of the newer social media platforms are gaining followers due to their commitment to not censoring posts, while others, like MeWe, initially gained popularity because they positioned themselves as ad-free alternatives to Facebook, the platform preferred by over 75% of marketers. Others, like Parler, gained popularity with groups that felt restricted by Facebook and Twitter’s Terms of Service. Unfortunately, Parler’s lack of moderation caused their web services host and popular app stores to drop the social media platform in early 2021. 

There are other factors to consider when selecting social media platforms to use to promote a cause. Each platform has its pros and cons, from technical glitches, bots, AI moderations, and terms of service that may limit the content you want to share. The question is, with so many choices, how does an organization get the biggest bang for its buck, literally and figuratively. 

The answer will be in trying things out! You may try running a Twitter campaign that does great, while your YouTube ads aren’t doing as well. These analytics can help you determine where to focus dollars in the future.

Established social media platforms have evolved to keep up with the TikToks and other video sharing apps, with enhanced features like Instagram Reels. Different audience segments prefer to watch content rather than read it. Don’t discount the power established and emerging influencers can have on a social media platform either. TikTok, Clubhouse, Instagram and others allow for paid spots or ads from creators which can have great success.

Social media messaging is not limited to more conventional channels. During the last election cycle, many candidates and causes leveraged YouTube and Triller to present everything from short-form videos to web series to connect with their communities as part of their communication strategy. 

Even the gaming platform Twitch got in on the action by hosting an informal candidate event for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2020. The COVID pandemic may have changed the way we reach communities forever, the logistics of attending an online event is much easier than attending an in-person one. 

The Intersection of Data, Analytics, and Content

Established or emerging, social media has moved past being the next big thing to be a part of any well thought out communication strategy. It’s so much more than storytellers and storytelling, social media is powerful, purposeful, and results driven. Let Hudson Collective help your organization make heads or tails of it all using digitally-enabled advocacy and data-driven strategies to achieve the results you need. Contact us to learn more.

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