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The new Myspace? Which social channels are here to stay

By Chloe Basterfield

Social networkers are using an increasingly diverse mix of social networks, websites and apps to interact, but how many are here to stay?

Facebook is struggling to attract younger users, according to a study from eMarketer. The number of young adults using Facebook is likely to decline over the next three years, with ‘almost’ no new UK users aged 12 to 24 joining the platform.

So will Facebook become the new Myspace? Although once the world’s largest social network, Facebook – just like Myspace – has suffered a steady decline despite several redesigns. The nature of recent and rapid development for social channels suggests the answer to this is anything but clear-cut.

In a 2014 survey of high schoolers’ use of social networks, 51% reported using Instagram every day, while 55% used YouTube and 61% Facebook daily – second only to texting. The findings illustrate a social media landscape which is fast becoming more complex, nuanced and diverse as younger people regularly interact via an array of digital tools.

Adult users

71% of online adults used Facebook in 2014 – a proportion unchanged from 2013, with use dipping only among 30 to 49 year-olds year on year. 28% of adult internet users regularly used Pinterest – up from 21% in 2013. 26% of adult internet users used Instagram – up from 17%, and 23% used Twitter, up from 18%. There has also been a marked increase in ‘multiple site usage’, with 51% of internet users now using two or more social media networks.

Social business

Another factor making it hard to predict the new Myspace is social media conglomeration – the bringing together of different social networks, websites and apps within a single business. This is why Facebook bought Instagram – the image-based social network which now has more users than Twitter and messaging app, WhatsApp.

In this way, Facebook has evolved from being ‘just’ a social network into a business built on aggregating socially connected users across a diverse portfolio of services. The upshot? Even if Facebook the social network loses significant numbers of users, Facebook the social business will remain a major social player.

Lessons to learn

Even so, all social channels can learn from Myspace – the decline of which is widely believed to have been accelerated by its limited ability to evolve its proposition and innovate. Those best-positioned to survive have a clear, compelling and distinctive proposition (often themed or niche) that extends beyond simply facilitating a connection between one individual and another. Themed social channels such as business-focused LinkedIn and music-themed Pandora or, even, Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba are particularly good at attracting and maintaining their customers.

Social media is expanding and fragmenting, fuelling consumers’ social behavior to become more sophisticated and diverse. No single social media network can now expect to serve all its members’ needs, all the time – and no-one should expect it to.

Remember:

  • A growing proportion of social networkers now regularly use two or more social networks, so many channels are dispensable.
  • ‘Social networking’ no longer just involves conventional social networks, but a growing array of websites and apps.
  • All social channels can learn from Myspace’s slowness to evolve and innovate.
  • Tomorrow’s winners will be those social channels with a clear USP and compelling proposition.

Want to know more about using social media for business. Discover five pillars of social success in the eguide: Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Social Marketing

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