You’re Not Married to Your Social Networks – You’re Just Dating


Because if history is any guide – social networks come and go.  Mostly go.

So don’t go off and get hitched.

As my astute colleague Greg Swan recently noted:

“You would think the track record of social network migration (i.e. users emigrating from Compuserve to AOL, AOL to Friendster, Friendster to MySpace, more recently MySpace to Facebook) would have established a trend of cyclical change which we marketers would anticipate and embrace. But for some reason it seems like our clients and peers are always surprised when online behavior changes, new destinations gain traction, and popular networks lose daily active users.”

What prompted his musings?

New research that teenagers are rejecting platforms like Facebook and Twitter in favor of newer and cooler social networks.  In other words,  social networks that their parents have yet to discover.

A new survey by Piper Jaffrey asked 5,000 teens to list their most important social networks.  The top five were:

  • Wangle
  • Vine
  • SnapChat
  • Kik
  • 4Chan

As you can see – not a Facebook post or an Instagram photo in the lot.

As Buzzfeed observed about the survey:

“It hints at what could be the beginning of an across-the-board teen rejection of traditional social networking as a whole.”

That’s because the services listed above, most notably SnapChat and Kik, are not even social networks in the way we think about them now.  In fact, they are really just instant messaging services – but with more functionality (primarily imagery like photos and video) and personality.

There’s no big profiles on these services – so they are more private.  There’s also the ability to be more selective in who you interact with.  Less fear about mom, dad, grandma and Uncle Bert reading your posts and commenting on your photos and likes and dislikes.

In other words, paradise – at least if you’re a teenager.

But anyone who has been working in digital and social communications for longer than a turnip truck ride will be able to tell you that platforms (i.e. specific social networks) really aren’t that important.  Does it really matter if you need to shift platforms from MySpace to Facebook or perhaps later to Vine?  Not really.

If you’re a brand and have a content strategy, understand your audience, and are developing multimedia and interactive content – that’s really all you need.  You should be adding and subtracting channels all the time – or at least when they change.  And change they will.

It’s one reason why having an online content hub – a home base if you will – is a crucial part of any digital and social strategy.  That’s where your content can live and breathe (and provide amazing SEO).  Social channels are just that channels.  It’s where you broadcast your content and engage with your audiences.

If you find your audiences have moved – move with them.

That said there’s no panic yet.  Facebook still has a billion people on it.  Twitter is still growing like crazy.

But change is always in the air…

How about you?  Any thoughts on these new networks or on the old ones?


Greg Swan’s post on Teens Ditching Facebook

Buzzfeed post on Teens Abandoning Social Networks

4 Responses to “You’re Not Married to Your Social Networks – You’re Just Dating”

  1. 4chan isn’t exactly new.

  2. Nope. But it is newly popular.

  3. You’re not dating. You are the sucker who walked into the social network bar and a b-girl is chatting you up. When you run out of money/content/she moves on.
    You wake up to the fact that you are not gonna get any so you move on to the next watering hole. The game continues.

    (sigh….I cannot change the wisdom of chasing the 18-40 yo demographics despite the fact they are for the most part the poorest, least stable, in income,interests,loyalty and will change their minds about as often as they change their socks.)

    Companies/Brands who trail after these folks are like camp followers and will be held in the same regard. “Social” media is a reactive activity and companies will always be behind the curve.

    What you may want to try with one of your brave clients is to put up a message board on their own site, that has two threads: Why our product sucks and why our product is great.

    Then you can tweet Why our product sucks Click here and Why our product is great Click here.

    Wash Rinse Repeat for the rest of the networks of the day.

    This has a number of advantages over tossing capital down the social media rat-holes.
    1] It brings folks to their site.
    (if the whole point of advertising/brand awareness/ is moving product, followers and ‘likers’ aren’t worth the pixels used if the cash register doesn’t ring)
    2] it gives them a place to talk directly to the company
    (if you want to ‘engage’ with your customers, use your own site rather than somebody else s site)
    3] it gives the company feedback that can be acted on
    (It gives all of the stakeholders in the company access to real time information that can be used from design of the package right down to pricing information)
    4] the money they can save by bring this in house can be used for other purposes.

    The bad news here is that this strategy will certainly impact your bottom line, but maybe you can find some way to carve out some after work.

    Oh yeah if you get any takers send me a check for part of your billings:)

    Hey hansome…buy me a drink?

  4. Hi Flopoke:
    A couple of brands have already tried that – look up Miracle Whip. They did a whole campaign around people who love and hate their product. As always, love your take on social. And, yes, I’ll buy you a damn drink…

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