Money & Business

Is Facebook Fading? What Could Be Next on the Social Media Horizon?

By / Jun 27, 2013 (photo by somegeekintn/Flickr)

Although the social media behemoth is probably not receding into the internet abyss any time soon, its popularity is subsiding, especially among younger users. What does this mean for how we connect with members in the future?

Signs of Facebook’s waning popularity have been circulating recently. Over the last year, the social media site has lost 10 million U.S. visitors, according to The Guardian.

If the younger generation is part of the scope of members you are targeting, you might want to start transitioning into different levels of connection.

And although it’s still the dominant social network in the United States, people are not afraid to take a sabbatical from the site. A Pew Internet and American Life Project survey published earlier this year found that 61 percent of Facebook users reported taking a voluntary break from using the site for several weeks or more. The most reported reason for “going black” was not having enough time, followed by a lack of interest, and the site being a “waste of time.”

There’s also a growing number of teen users who are losing interest in Facebook, whereas other social media sites tools Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and Snapchat have seen growths in teenage users.

What does this mean for marketers or organizations that use Facebook to stay connected with their customers or members? While Facebook may not be going anywhere fast, there are signs that it’s time to start looking into other trends.

“When you have someone on top for so long, there’s only a certain amount of time they can stay on top,” said Devin Tisdale, business development manager at Peak AMS. “Facebook has done a surreal job of creating and capturing that whole environment where people like you and I can connect, and it’s revolutionizing the way we communicate online, but from that it’s stemmed other competition and we’re starting to see some of that pop up.”

Tisdale posted a discussion on this issue recently in ASAE’s Collaborate, and in a related blog post  he suggested looking into new and trending social media platforms.

“If the younger generation is part of the scope of members you are targeting, you might want to start transitioning into different levels of connection,” Tisdale said.

Earlier this week Ernie Smith made the case for Instagram and its latest addition of video to its offerings. He admitted he made a mistake in writing off the app too soon and suggested associations “would be smart to read the tea leaves” in using this kind of video as a marketing approach.

“Instagram could prove useful for stretching your resources,” Smith wrote. “Like Vine, Instagram could be an effective solution to ensure a constant video presence without too much heavy lifting.”

Facebook believed in the appeal of Instagram. It’s at least one of the reasons suggested as to why the site bought the popular photo-sharing app last year.

“Facebook is having a midlife crisis, and the acquisition of the beloved, hip photo-sharing app is its equivalent of buying a sports car,” Kashmir Hill wrote in Forbes. “By buying Instagram, Facebook bought itself 30 million hipsters, and all of their wonderful hipster cool.”

In another attempt to stay relevant, Facebook recently announced the launch of hashtags.

Some, like marketing consultant Jeff Korhan, believe hashtags on Facebook have high potential and could be a game changer for the social site by making things much more “findable.”

“Many of us became familiar with hashtags through Twitter,” he wrote in an article for Association Media & Publishing. “But because Twitter is easily searched, the value of hashtags on Twitter is not nearly as powerful as they will be for Facebook.”

Time will tell whether Facebook remains supreme in social networking, but its recent attempts to freshen its image and keep up with other social sites adds to the idea that it must work to maintain its status quo.

For those needing to stay digitally connected with customers and members, it’s good to know what may be coming next.

“The biggest piece of advice out there is to stay relevant,” Tisdale said. “Do your research. More and more, every day, the population is becoming interconnected digitally, so it’s always great to keep an eye out for up-and-coming trends.”

What new social media sites are you trying?

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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