It is undeniable that Facebook is a social media giant and at present one of the most valuable advertising tools there is for your brand. Having reached over two billion users worldwide the potential reach is absolutely huge, and is only rivalled by Google in terms of digital marketing importance. For brands big and small, a presence on the biggest and most famous social media network of all time is absolutely vital. On the other hand, to put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, is definitely not the most sensible option as past trends and recent data suggests.
Between 2005 and 2008 Myspace was the largest social networking platform in the world and at one point even managed to surpass Google as the most visited website in the US, back in 2006. It was once sold for over $580 million, and even now still manages to bring in tens of millions of unique monthly users. It has long been surpassed by Facebook though and is a shadow of its former glory.
Myspace is a prime example of a social media giant that seemed almost too big to fail, but is now only mentioned by most as a footnote in the story of social media. Today it would almost seem laughable if a brand decided to start advertising on Myspace, but back in its hey day, it was a massive marketing tool, boasting hundreds of millions of active users.
While there have been many articles and studies over the years predicting the same fall from grace for Facebook, the network has so far been able to avoid the same fate as Myspace. What Facebook has managed to do that Myspace didn’t was either add features that were popular on other platforms such as integrated video to rival YouTube, effective advertising to rival Google and Facebook Messenger, or alternatively buying brands that it felt would enhance its huge network such as WhatsApp or Instagram. It also released a streamlined, fast and hugely popular mobile app. Without these smart moves from the Facebook management team, it is unlikely the network would have become nearly so successful.
It is difficult to remain at the top forever though, especially in these days of rapid technological advances and changes. There are now clear signs that people are starting to become bored of Facebook, especially younger demographics such as Teenagers in core advertising regions such as the US and UK. In fact there are many who don’t use Facebook at all, instead favouring Snapchat and Instagram. This is according to a recent study by eMarketer which highlights a growing problem for Facebook, when analysing longer term social media use.
“We see teens and tweens migrating to Snapchat and Instagram. Both platforms have found success with this demographic since they are more aligned with how they communicate—that is, using visual content. Outside of those who have already left, teens and tweens remaining on Facebook seem to be less engaged—logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform,” said eMarketer senior forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco. “At the same time, we now have ‘Facebook-nevers’—children aging into the tween demographic who appear to be overlooking Facebook altogether, yet still engaging with Facebook-owned Instagram.”
What this data points to is the importance for brands to be ready for change, because change is inevitable in today’s fast moving world of technology. Facebook managed to overtake and beat Myspace, but in the future if this kind of trend among younger users continues, it may see it’s social media crown stolen by Snapchat and Instagram. The study also shows that Twitter remains a significant social media force: “Twitter will have a total of 12.6 million users in the UK this year, equating to 19.0% of the population. Its user base will continue to grow slightly throughout the forecast period, beating Facebook’s by an incremental degree this year.”
Of course there are also many other major players such as YouTube, Tumblr, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest, plus other smaller networks and social media channels that are more country specific. To solely concentrate on Facebook is the lazy, short-sighted option. There is no doubt that it remains a massive marketing tool, but there are millions of social media users who are either bored of Facebook or now avoid it altogether. The best option is a multi-channel approach to digital marketing across at least the most prominent social media networks. Not only does this mean greater reach for your brand, but also means better insurance against the possible long-term demise of Facebook.
Of course the demise of Facebook is not inevitable, as there have been studies in the past that pointed to the end of Facebook’s dominance, but until this point the company has been able to adapt and continue growing. The sensible strategic option though for your brand is still to continue building a presence on all major social media networks and also to create great digital media content. Too many brands still equate social media marketing with just having a Facebook page and occasionally broadcasting their boring corporate message there. Clearly they are not paying attention to where people’s attention lies these days. Traditional TV, radio and print are all on steady long-term decline as people’s attention is now focused increasingly on digital content on their smartphones. Often people will not even bother looking at your website, they will go straight to searching for your brand on social media.
Do not waste this huge opportunity to engage with your followers and potential clients. Interact with them on social media and form a lasting positive relationship, so that they become your biggest fans. The benefits your brand will experience from investing in social media will be huge and much greater than the time and money invested. By all means continue to build a presence on Facebook, but also realise that great content can reach new audiences on different channels, thus massively increasing the potential reach of your brand.
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