If I was to be honest, I am more interested in the development and changes of social media than I am in the actual content of it these days. And I don’t mean the ‘wow we can now do that!’ interest. I mean what’s underneath it all… Why do they want us to do that? What happens if…? What does this mean for…?

That kind of thing.

Because, when it comes down to it, much of the content we put out there is not really being consumed in the way we would ideally like it to be. In many cases, we are feeding the monsters that are the algorithms to make them do what we want them to do – share our account to more people so we get more followers, engagement or likes – the end goal, well, hopefully more clients and customers. Unless you are a big company with a rock solid strategy and money and staff to put it into action, then a lot of it is hoping for the best outcome.

Do you remember when there was a Facebook black out a while back? Well, it excited me… I find myself wanting these platforms to go down. I really do. What would we do if we could not use these platforms anymore? How would our communication evolve? How would we share information? How would big brands advertise to us? Do any of us remember the time before? Remember how we communicated or shared and consumed information in the past?

It’s an intriguing thought… and some of us will survive better than others.

So what’s the actual risk of us losing our much loved and much hated platforms?

Let’s start with Twitter, just because it’s currently the most newsworthy.

I started writing this blog a while ago, when some form of #riptwitter seemed to be trending every week.. and yet, it’s still here! Although it’s definitely not out of the woods yet, and seems to be in the news daily. The latest update is Elton John has left the platform! 

I cannot imagine a man like Musk would invest the billions he has to take over the company only to let it die? Yet rich men fail and have lost lots of money before. Ironically Twitter has gained more users since Elon Musk’s take-over, mainly for the car crash spectacle of it all!

Twitter is partly respected for it’s more serious nature, a place for academic and journalistic exchange. Of course in addition there is lots of shouting and arguing and my favourite reason for being on there – some sharp and quick humour. To be honest, by the time I get this blog published there would have been further changes as it’s moving so fast over there. This article sums up what’s going on.

So what’s going on with Facebook and Instagram, and Meta?

Well, last month it was reported that faith in Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse was declining.  There have been sceptics right from the start, and just a month ago it was reported that 

‘Shares in Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, have plunged more than 20% after a downbeat set of results from the tech giant.’ BBC News

It comes as investor doubts about Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for the future grow, and revenues and profits decline. And now he’s facing more court action – google it, there are too many news articles on the various legal suits to share here.

We don’t have to read any scholarly or journalistic articles to know that ‘young people’ are not using those platforms – just ask your kids and they will give you the straight answer – here was mine:

“Eww no, those are for old people like you, mum”.

The world has changed a lot since social media arrived, and it’s changing again. After years of targeted ads and realising we simply have to have a conversation about something for an ad to pop up in our feed moments later, (it’s true! I swear!), we are fed up with being aggressively advertised to and every bit of our data being used for this purpose.. 

Apple changing its privacy settings definitely impacted targeted ads on Facebook (remember the one page ad Facebook took out in the leading US papers in 2020 to try and stop this? The claim was they were on the side of small business… ), add to that the state of our economies and we can be pretty sure that businesses are being choosy over how to spend their money.

With rival social media platforms gaining strength, if the advertisers pull out… what then? These platforms exist for one reason only – to make a profit.

And before you all jump over to TikTok in your hordes… don’t think it’s the ‘safe’ alternative. It’s owned by China, and who does not like China very much? The US of course, and which of those two countries do we like more… ? This article in Forbes (if you can tolerate all the pop ups and ads, gives you an insight). 

What are the Gen Z’ers doing?

Why Gen Z? Because those aged 13-25 tend to be the early adopters, the one’s with time, less responsibilities and a disposable income, meaning tech loves them!

A recent US survey found that 50% of Gen Z’ers are spending on average 4 hours a day on social media – with YouTube being the favourite channel, followed closely by Instagram, TikTok and SnapChat.

Briefly, SnapChat has been around since 2011, it’s evolved from a chat app, becoming more like the generic social media app every other platform seems to be morphing into – shopping / short-form video etc. Yet it’s the way many teenagers and young adults communicate with each other, sharing updates and making arrangements.

TikTok is getting bigger by the day. Yet with many other platforms competing with the same content, we are yet to see if it will take over. It does seem to have the most aggressive algorithm’s… focussed on delivering you what you want to see to keep you on there as long as possible.

YouTube has seen an increase of users. YouTube has always been a strong platform since its inception in 2005. It was the first channel of its kind. It’s gone through changes over the years, introduced a premium service, added movies to rent and more recently jumped onto the short form video craze – why two ratios on the same platform though – that’s just annoying! 

Since video has been ramping up over the last few years and we have all got used to creating it, and have accepted that production can be a little less professional, many have thought – well I am making it anyway, I may as well put it on YouTube. And, with 2.1 billion monthly active users all around the world, YouTube shows no signs of slowing down.

It’s worth mentioning BeReal as well. It’s a fairly new and growing platform and has attempted to NOT do what Instagram did (fake lives, influencers, filters etc). With the term ‘goblin mode‘ being the phrase of 2022, you can see why it’s taken off. It was developed in 2019 to keep things real and for users to share snap shots throughout their day. Users get a prompt all at the same time, to take a picture simultaneously with their front and back camera. It’s not hard to imagine some of the scenarios! It seems to be taking off amongst millennials and Gen Z, so keep an eye on that one.

Censorship and our socials

The reason I am mentioning this is it really affects the user expereince and culture of a platform.

We are starting to see the end of free information sharing and open, honest debate. Although this had already started, it took the pandemic to really highlight what was going on. I work with a lot of natural health practitioners and it was most apparent here. 

It became increasingly difficult to share about or suggest natural ways to boost your immune system. The hashtag #naturalhealth was removed or blocked on Instagram and Facebook groups promoting natural health were being deleted. 

Even Spotify got targetted when a couple of famous musicians (who were happy about free speech in the 70s), threatened to remove their music from Spotify if Joe Rogan’s podcast was not removed. Joe Rogan is Spotify’s biggest podcaster – he was not removed, but some of his shows content is flagged up.

The addictive nature of it all

There is only one reason short form video has taken over and we are being encouraged to post it – it’s addictive, and far more so than static or longer video. It keeps us on the platform as the algorithms deliver us more and more of what we want. It’s like feeding a kid sugar over and over. We keep on scrolling until we realise we have lost an hour or more and gained nothing. 

That’s always been my resistance to it. Yet, I think it really works for some businesses. Take this Australian based Marshmallow company – they have gained so many followers across their channels that they regularly have to take breaks as they cannot keep up with the orders coming from around the world.

The Future?

I am left pondering what the future holds… we know tech is always moving fast, and the platforms are competing to keep us on there, and the way to do that is to create more ways to give us more and more dopamine hits.

Will the future involve a chip? Is it a virtual world? Or government owned and controlled social platforms?

With deep fake tech and AI (watch the Capture on iPlayer if you have not yet done so), I want to trust my sources and I am not sure these platforms will allow that anymore.

What about Social Media Marketing for your business?

It is becoming increasingly challenging and if it works for you and your audience are on there, great. It’s important to keep up to date with and utilise all the platforms functionality’s in order to optimise reach etc.

Know where your audience is and how they are using the platform. Do your research, look at what your competitors are doing.

Above all else – keep as much control on your content and contacts as possible. So many people are getting hacked or loosing accounts – don’t let this happen to you!

I always feel I am to the content world what water is to the wellness world – stay hydrated and grow your email list!

Keep in mind that the marketing basics and fundamentals will stay the same no matter what platform or tech you are using to deliver it – that’s a strong, consistent brand, knowing your market and audience, delivering value and building trust.

Play to your strengths

As a business owner, I do not want to make endless video. For me the written word and storytelling will always be strong – it’s my favoured form of communication, so play to yours.  Given I love a fountain pen and stationary – maybe I will get all your home addresses and write to you all… that’s if there isn’t a postal strike happening!

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