A lot of people have been claiming that social media is dying. They accredit these accusations with three common reasons: a perceived decrease in platform usage, growing privacy concerns among citizens and an overall distaste with irrelevant content.
Various “thought leaders” have also been telling businesses to stop “wasting” their time and money on social media.
So, naturally a lot of clients have asked me, “Is Social Media Dying?” After setting down my coffee mug, I reassure them and always respond with the same answer: “Hell no.”
Although certain platforms may be losing users—and citizens may have increased privacy concerns and a distaste with irrelevant content—social media is not dying.
1.) MySpace’s Demise Doesn’t Determine the Fate of the Social Media Universe
MySpace is usually the first example that emerges when entering this conversation. It is the premier scapegoat for social media failure. In truth, yes, MySpace did fail, and there are a few specific reasons for this.
Firstly, the platform became flooded with spam that turned a lot of its users away. And secondly, MySpace toppled right as the first iPhone came out in 2007. That means that people didn’t have a prominent and widespread mobile method for accessing MySpace because the iPhone and its smartphone competitors were just getting started creating the mobile culture we now know.
MySpace existed in a different time. Therefore, it existed before social media was primarily accessed via smartphones. By the time smartphones became popular, it was too late. Other platforms—like Facebook and Twitter—capitalized on the power of the smartphone, which brings us to our next point.
2.) Smartphones Made Social Media Powerful, and Smartphones Aren’t Going Anywhere
Social media is especially powerful because of the circulation of smartphones. I know it’s hard to imagine a time before the smartphone, but in 2007, it was a relatively new gadget hitting the market. Various companies tried to release this concept years previous, but in 2007 it stuck and gained serious momentum. Up until this point, just about everyone had a flip phone that could barely connect to the Internet. Remember when Facebook Status Updates were shared via text messaging?
With the ability to easily access social media via smartphones in a visually dynamic way, social media’s popularity increased significantly.
Smartphones aren’t going anywhere anytime soon either. They’re just getting started. According to Engadget this past February, two-thirds of Americans now own a smartphone and that number is only increasing by the day. They also spend an average of 34 hours a month accessing their smartphones for Internet browsing and app use, which now trumps the average time spent on a computer doing similar activities (27 hours a month).
3.) Social Media Has Successfully Integrated into Our Lives
With the prevalence of smartphones and the ease of use for sharing social media updates in real time, social media has successfully integrated into our lives.
It’s become part of our habits for personal, business and educational interactions. It’s a solidified cultural norm for Millennials who will transition and continue to perpetuate the social media culture further.
It’s also worth mentioning that according to Poynter, one-third of adults under 30 get their news via social media, which is only further proof of this integration.
4.) Social Media Users Have Only Grown Over the Years
When MySpace was at its peak, it had around 100 million users. Since that point, various social media platforms have grown users exponentially. Check out these staggering numbers for social media users on various platforms as of right now (give or take a million).
- Facebook: 1.3 billion (that’s almost a sixth of the world’s population)
- Twitter: 645 million
- LinkedIn: 300 million
- Google+: 300 million
These numbers are further proof of the integration of social media into people’s lives.
5.) Social Signals Play into Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Regardless of what Google “officially” admits, it’s been proven that social media has an effect on the SEO power a website, especially a particular article on a website.
A social signal is basically a credibility indicator to search engines. The more social signals something has, the more credible it is. The reasoning behind this is that search engines are looking to rank content that is actually useful to people. If something is shared a lot, it’s social proof that people are finding it to be useful.
- An article on a particular optimized topic area that has 1000 total shares is in theory—assuming other SEO practices are in play—going to have more authority than a similar article with one share.
Beyond ranking, here are a few other areas that social signals contribute to:
- A fresh article or page that has been shared a lot will be indexed by search engines faster. This social activity puts it on the radar of search engines.
- A highly shared article also has a lot more opportunity for getting utilized in other people’s articles. The reason is simply because more people are interacting with it and handling it. When an article is linked in someone else’s article as a reference then it’s creating a backlink. Backlinks, especially relevant ones, are a big SEO factor.
6.) It’s No Longer a Question of, “Is Social Media Dying?”
At this point you shouldn’t be asking, “Is social media dying?” You should be asking, “How is it changing?”
Because the fact that it’s changing is apparent as platforms adapt and innovate. The social media realm is continuing to evolve and best tactics are only continuing to change. As a business you have to be prepared to react to these changes.
And sure, Facebook may not last forever, but that doesn’t mean that social media is dying. It might just be changing and transferring power to another platform for us to utilize.