We’re in the last quarter of 2016, which seems a good time for a quick recap of Australia’s social media landscape and to assess the moves made by the major social players and how they survived (or didn’t) these last six months.
We have previously spoken about how messaging apps are the new social media, with some steadfast statistics from earlier in the year backing up the notion that people (especially the 18-29 year age bracket) are choosing private messaging apps for their day-to-day communications as opposed to public social sites. The rise of private messaging apps such as Line (57% growth), Facebook Messenger (54% growth) and Snapchat (45% growth) are quickly dominating the social network landscape over the declining likes of the traditional Twitter (39% decrease), Facebook (18% decrease), LinkedIn (13% decrease) and Instagram (12% decrease) on daily usage.
It’s not to say these social networking sites aren’t serving their own particular purposes, it’s that consumers are more aware of other available apps that meet their exact needs. But changes happen in the blink of an eye – so where are we at now? Where has the great social media power struggle taken itself in the last 6 months?
September statistics from Social Media News shows Facebook maintaining pole position top of the rank at 15Million users, with the most notable increase in (Facebook-owned) WhatsApp with a 30% rise in users, and Twitter showing the least impressive growth with users remaining stagnant over the past two years. These figures cement the downward spiral and uncertain future of Twitter following its rejected sale to Salesforce just last month and recent failure of Vine.
These figures have come about for a reason – so what have the big guns been doing the past 6 months to warrant either their decrease or increase in social popularity?
Facebook continues to draw inspiration from frontrunner Snapchat, with the introduction of new features that have users feeling like they’ve been there before. Their new Messenger feature video app was developed as an alternative when live video is unavailable – giving users access to short bursts of video footage to complement text-based conversations.
Once again, Facebook is guilty of avidly trying out some new techniques in order to tempt young, regular users of Facebook onto Facebook Live video. Halloween delivered the perfect opportunity for Facebook to launch its new Masks feature whereby users could superimpose a digital Halloween themed mask over their live video. Extremely similar to Snapchat’s successful Lenses features, the digital masks were accompanied by themed emojis to coincide with the new feature. Expiring after Halloween, this is just the start of Facebook’s venture into new additions to lure and retain users.
With more than one billion people using Facebook's Messenger app, Facebook is continuing to test and trial new features to keep up. Messenger Day is being currently tested in Poland with word to come on its movement into other countries. Like Snapchat, messages disappear after 24 hours to keep the sense of urgency and lure of being in the moment with its users.
The Instagram vs Snapchat War
Not to be left behind, Instagram (or should we say Facebook) also played to the ‘now or never’ mentality with the introduction of 24 hour Insta-stories to capitalise on consumer’s insatiable desire for instant and urgent information and gratification. One leads and the others follow.
Between them, Instagram and Snapchat continue to battle it out as the preferred platform for the Gen Z and Millennials. Social Media News covered a recent survey by Survata that asked 511 Instagram and Snapchat users aged 13-34 how they felt about both platforms. When asked which app they deem to be ‘cooler’ between the two, 64% chose Snapchat, whereas when asked to choose between the two if users could only have one app, the line was split almost evenly down the middle with 51% choosing Snapchat over Instagram.
Interestingly, users are doubtful about the ongoing longevity of both platforms, with around 40-45% stating their scepticism of both platforms seeing out the next five years. This is indicative of how Gen Z and Millennials see the world of social media - transient, temporary and in a state of constant reinvention.
The Demise of Vine
Vine is the perfect example of an instant success whose life was short-lived. Just last month Twitter announced it would be shutting down Vine's mobile app, following its inability to keep up with its competitors’ regular launch of new features. The beauty of Vine’s 6 second videos became its downfall, with its developers unable to successfully grow its user base and expand its functionality. It was adopted by a creative core and its limits didn't appeal to the mass market. Time was of the essence – it came – it conquered – and it left.
To say the least, these recent revelations will serve to keep the leading social platforms on their toes. These are exciting times for Marketers and brands alike as almost on a daily basis new opportunities present themselves to reach and engage with consumers in fresh ways.
If you would like to know how your brand could enhance your social strategy do get in touch.