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.
A new survey by Piper Jaffray offers the latest news bite that will have our industry and clients asking us questions about social marketing programs on current and emerging socnets.
Facebook is the “most important” social media site for about 10% fewer teenagers than it was a year ago. The teens surveyed are less interested in Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Flickr and Tumblr, too. Of the major sites included in the survey, only Pinterest has grown. (Instagram was not included in the survey in Spring of 2012). This suggests something bigger than a shift away from Facebook; it hints at what could be the beginning of an across-the-board teen rejection of traditional social networking as a whole. But where are young people going? The survey includes some notable write-ins, which are presented almost as a footnote.
But they might explain what’s going on:
The sites that are either ascendant, holding steady or holding relatively strong are feed-heavy and profile-light; the sites that seem to be hit hardest are those that have a more traditional, MySpace-y structures, centered around a detailed profile. (Tumblr is the odd exception here.)
The biggest “write-in” services aren’t really social networks in the way Facebook is a social network. Snapchat and Kik are messaging services. While they might be able to draw teens’ attention away from Facebook, they have little funcional overlap.
This data measures sentiment, not usage stats. If this data is solid, though, we should see it reflected in an teen exodus from traditional social networks.
While I strongly believe Vine and disposable media socnets like Snapchat, Kik and Poke satisfy important emerging consumer behaviors, we shouldn’t discount the effectiveness of mass socnets like Facebook and Twitter – just as we don’t discount the effective of mass media channels like television and newspapers to meet specific client needs. Particularly with Facebook’s new targeting offerings, we can now laser target client messages like never before.
In summary, depending on your brand’s measurable objectives, you should recommend and utilize the most appropriate channel to best meet their audiences.
What works today may not work next year, and I personally think that’s AWESOME.
“Taking Stock with Teens” study (pdf)