Just like everything else in life, social media platforms have life cycles.
Previously, Facebook was popular among young people. Currently, Instagram is the “cool” app of the moment, but that soon may be changing. A newer social media app, TikTok, is becoming popular with younger people. There are several reasons for this changing trend. I’m going to share some ideas on Instagram, TikTok, and the future of social media.
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS STICK WITH THEIR GENERATION
Fifteen years ago, if you were cool, you had a Facebook. Now many younger people will probably admit to using Instagram more than Facebook. Pew Research shows us that 84% of 25-29 year olds use Facebook, while 76% of 18-24 year olds use Facebook. This is a significant drop because we see an 8% change between people in a ten year difference. Now some of you may be thinking that 76% of 18-24 year olds using Facebook is a lot, but this statistic simply shows the amount of people who “say they ever use” the platform, so we can assume that a significant portion of these people have accounts that are not being used.
In Marcel Danesi’s book, Popular Culture, he explains that “the makers of popular trends have tended to be young people.” This is important to recognize because if young people are using Instagram less and TikTok more, this will gradually hurt the app over time. Brady Sheer, media company owner, suspects that each generation will make a certain social media app their own. Millennials made Facebook their platform, Late Millennials/Early Gen Z made Instagram their platform, while younger Gen Z members are potentially making TikTok their platform of choice. This is an interesting concept because Brady Sheer believes that this may be a result of the application hitting its maturity and ultimately becoming over advertised and over marketed.
INSTAGRAM IS DECLINING, AT LEAST TEMPORARILY
Some studies have shown that there has been a decline in Instagram engagement, at least since May 2019. Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Marketing book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, suggests that Instagram’s organic reach is done. Social media platforms realize the value of organic reach and they capitalize on that. They ultimately create programs that will require you to pay in order to get your name popular on the app, which inevitably kills organic reach. This is currently seen on Facebook, and perhaps now too on Instagram, as advertisements are now required to get exposure on the platform. Ultimately, the developers of these social media apps are killing themselves by profiting on the ad’s, but killing organic reach.
Personally, I feel that people never got over Vine’s demise. Many people never understood why it shut down. Here is an article on that. Perhaps the reason for TikTok’s success is that something needed to replace Vine. I understand that Instagram and Snapchat both took features that Vine had, but those platforms were previously known for other features. TikTok’s main feature is video, similar to Vine. Perhaps TikTok will simply run down the same road Vine did and die, but I doubt it. Vine created a culture that didn’t die when Vine did. I see TikTok filling in the void that Vine left. As long as a void is apparent, something will need to take its place. Instagram culture does not seem to entertain the same culture that Vine did. When people post on Instagram, things appear as if the person posting lived in a perfect world. TikTok videos feed off of hilarious and nonsensical content. Whether or not TikTok succeeds, Instagram will need to adapt in order to stay competitive.
Whether Instagram survives this decline or not, it’s important to recognize where you want to invest your time and energy. Eventually something better will come along and replace your favorite app. It’s important to keep this in mind with whatever platform you use, because you need to be ready to adapt to changes. Failure to adapt can cause negative outcomes, especially if you are a business. In the 1990’s the music industry was not ready to transition from CD’s to digital download and initially suffered because of this. As people, we can so easily get comfortable in one platform or method; however, this is dangerous. We need to constantly be asking ourselves, “Why do we do what we do?” Is it just because we’ve always done it this way or because it’s the best way to do something? If we personally enjoy the community, then that’s a great reason to use the platform, but if you’re trying to be an influencer or strategic advertiser on social media, we need to constantly question what we do. So the question is: Why do you use the social media applications that you do?