Let’s look back at the past year. What social networks flourished? What social networks struggled for relevance?
The uncomfortable reality is that with very few exceptions – Snapchat being one of them – anything that was not part of the Facebook ecosystem struggled to retain the membership and interest it already had.
Examine the landscape:
Facebook grew to consume the eyes and minds of almost two billion people. Facebook’s individual properties, such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger exploded in growth. Instagram surpassed 600 million users, almost double Twitter’s entire user base.
Meanwhile, Microsoft derailed LinkedIn with its acquisition. So distracted was the network that almost no innovations came out of it in the last year. Sponsored posts were the only growth area, while LinkedIn said it was scaling back in its direct advertising and display advertising options. Groups remained havens for spammers, and the only notable difference for the average LinkedIn user was being forced into to private group messages that they did not sign up for.
Twitter languished as well. The network showed almost no growth and struggle to find relevance. The only reason Twitter had significant growth in mind share was due to the presidential elections. Twitter did the opposite of innovate, killing off its Vine video platform near the end of the year.
We’re at peak social: our audiences have chosen a winner in the social networking realm, and that winner is the Facebook ecosystem.
What To Do About Peak Social
What are the implications of such a gigantic monoculture when it comes to social media? Two obvious conclusions come to mind. First, Facebook is where the action is. It doesn’t matter what kind of company or industry we are a part of. Facebook is where our audience is. Whether our audience uses Facebook for business is the actual question we need to be asking. The days of questioning whether our audiences are participating on Facebook are over.
Second, Facebook is notorious for a classic bait and switch: it baits brands into using its business features, such as Pages, then destroying brands’ organic reach to force them to pay for advertising. With the launch of Business Accounts in Instagram, I see this trend likely to repeat. Be prepared to pay, pay, pay whenever we interact with the Facebook ecosystem. How much should we budget for? Plan like any other form of display advertising. CPM rates vary across the board, but a penny per Page Like ($10 CPM) is a safe starting point.
Continue to experiment with emerging platforms as it makes sense for your brand, but recognize that we’re at peak social. With Facebook devouring everything and leveraging its massive network strength, any nascent competitor will experience significant difficulty edging its way in. The only areas where Facebook might not be paying as close attention are in video network realms, as well as niches like gaming or enterprise messaging (though they’re trying with Facebook At Work).
7 Marketing Trends in 2017 Series:
- 7 Marketing Trends in 2017, Part 1: Introduction
- 7 Marketing Trends in 2017, Part 2: The Screenless Revolution
- 7 Marketing Trends in 2017, Part 3: Peak Social
- 7 Marketing Trends in 2017, Part 4: The Digital Attention Gap
- 7 Marketing Trends in 2017, Part 5: The Velvet Rope Revolution
- 7 Marketing Trends in 2017, Part 6: AI Eats Everything
- 7 Marketing Trends in 2017, Part 7: The Death of Old SEO
- 7 Marketing Trends in 2017, Part 8: Account-Based Marketing for Everyone
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