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Snapchat is up, Facebook is down — and it’s time for you to start making some hard platform decisions.
Doubtless, you have heard a bit over the last year about Snapchat’s potential, Facebook’s dominance, and Instagram’s emergence. If you haven’t been paying attention, here is the key takeaway: You’re going to need to start making some solid, audience-based decisions regarding your social platforms.
The truth is that if you have a clear idea of who your audience is, there should be no more straddling the fence in trying to reach multiple audiences on platforms where they don’t reside. A recently released eMarketer report shows that the chasm between the platforms where audiences prefer to reside is widening. Marketers who continue to try to share the same messages on the same channels for different audiences are finding — and will continue to find — major issues proceeding.
So, where will things stand for audiences over the next handful of years on the top social channels? We’re glad you asked.
- Gen X: Mostly steady
- Millennials: Slowly growing
- Gen Z: Freefalling
As you might be able to guess, Facebook is mostly holding steady for adults, but teens are abandoning ship at an alarming rate. Approximately 12.1 million U.S. teens are currently using Facebook, and that number is expected to drop 23 percent to 9.3 million by 2022.
- Gen X: Essentially no growth
- Millennials: Moderate growth
- Gen Z: Rapid growth
If you aim to reach teens, or if you are hoping to cultivate a young, loyal audience for years to come, Snapchat may be the best place for your organization to be. In all, more teens are using Snapchat than any other social channel — and it’s not really very close. A full 16.4 million U.S. teens are active Snapchat users and that number is expected to grow by another 1.2 million users by 2022. Likewise, the number of teen Instagram users is expected to continue to grow at about the same rate.
- Gen X: Slight growth
- Millennials: Moderate growth
- Gen Z: Significant growth
If you are looking for a safe middle ground, perhaps Instagram is where you should turn your efforts. The channel has grown in recent years among Gen X and millennials, and continued slight growth is expected throughout the next few years. More significant growth is expected among teen audiences thanks to Instagram Stories and other features that give teens an effective alternative to Snapchat.
Of course, rather than choose which social account you should be using to reach your audience, some would say that social media shouldn’t be your top concern. On his YouTube channel, Tim Ferriss answers the question: “Do you need social media for your business?”
“If your product is not content, your focus should be making your product or service so good that no one can ignore it,” Ferriss says. “In that case you don’t have to think at all about your personal social media accounts. You can let your own diehard fans do all the recruiting and sharing for you.”
Though Ferriss’ counsel is sound, it isn’t the only perspective. The truth is this: Gen X, millennial, and Gen Z audiences all require different tools, and the social channels available to you are like tools in a toolbox. It all comes down to knowing which tool can best get the job done and then using that tool to the best of your ability to reach your intended audience.
You probably aren’t persuasive enough to change people’s mind on social media. According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, only slightly higher than 1 in 10 people said their views on a political or social issue changed because of something they saw on social media.
Facebook Watch is now available globally. The video tool was first made available for U.S. users one year ago. It hasn’t yet become the YouTube-killer Facebook is hoping for, but the company is continuing to invest in the tool to help it grow.
Instagram’s “About This Account” will force increased transparency on brand and influencer accounts. The feature lets users know when a popular account joined Instagram, which ads it is running, the country where it is maintained, and will identify accounts that have a large number of similar followers.
Facebook is allowing a few publishers to test organic posts. These select publishers are able to change headlines, photos, text, and videos to get a better idea of how their organic posts are performing.