What’s Up with Social Media Apps? Innovations or the Same Difference?
The 2016 holiday season has proven to be a gift giving spectacular for social media users, with announcements from all major social media networks: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Most of these announcements turned out to be “new” features already available on other social media platforms and this trend raises an important question for users, businesses, and social media marketing in general. Is the era of differentiated and specialized social networks ending, ushering in the era of do-it-all apps?
ICYMI: What’s New with Social Media Apps
Let’s go way back to 2004 when red carpet events were stages for fashion nightmares, the housing crash barely a glimmer in America’s horizon and social media platforms were emerging fast. Their purpose was simple: to expand communication in the digital age to the digital sphere. As more efficient and clever ideas emerged, we saw the fall of Myspace and the rise of today’s most popular mobile apps like Instagram and Snapchat, each with their own unique voice and user base. Now, as recent announcements have revealed, social networks are inching for a competitive edge by becoming less and less distinctive.
This may have started in August 2016 when Instagram revealed its story function that allowed users to save short videos and images in a slideshow format (like Snapchat stories, which had been a part of the app since its 2013). The biggest benefit of Instagram stories to business was its significantly larger user base, with 500 million users, at the time, compared to Snapchat’s 150 million. With Instagram recently announcing that it had reached the 600 million user milestone, only 6 months after the implementation of Stories, it’s pretty clear that becoming more like Snapchat helped increase its user base.
Fast forward to this month and suddenly Twitter and Instagram are both announcing live video features, Facebook Messenger is giving its users the ability to send quickly edited photos overlaid with stickers and emojis (just like Snapchat did from its inception) and Snapchat is finally allowing users to create group chats (much like Facebook Messenger).
What 2016 App Updates Mean for Social Media Marketing
Considering the random nature of these updates, it’s hard to say that any one platform is the victim of copycatting. But other than gaining a bigger piece of the social media user pie, it’s unclear what these platforms gain anything by becoming virtually indistinguishable. Time will tell whether users are willing to keep up with multiple apps on their phone with strikingly similar features, or whether they prefer a streamlined approach to communication.
This makes it tricky for businesses to capitalize on these trends. While social media managers have advised clients for years that brands should find their unique voice in each social platform they’re active in, the line between platforms is getting increasingly blurry. Brands will now have to decide whether to continue playing in every medium or to abandon any secondary social communities to focus on one major platform.
All of this shows the need for strategic social media marketing. Your company must know its target audience and where they want to interact with you. Then they must engage that audience with a unique voice that stands out like a beacon in a dense fog of social media apps. Winning in social media is about connecting with your audience, and if your audience is screaming “abandon ship” on one platform, it does your business no good to get lost at sea.
Blueprint specializes in creating strategic social media marketing campaigns. Contact us today to learn how we can help you grow your business.