Oh my. Here we go again. The question over whether or not social media is a fad has been sparked once again. A few years ago, this debate was really hot as social networks – namely Facebook and Twiter – were figuring out how to monetize their services. It has died down in recent years but, every once in a while, it gets revived, which is what is happening now.
To understand why social media is here to stay, let’s back up to the days before Facebook and Twitter. Even back then, social media existed. At this point, it primarily consisted of forums. Then, between 2004-2006, blogs really began taking off. The glory days of MySpace, of course, fell into this time frame too.
Although forums had been around for years, an interesting shift in communication began taking place over the course of these years. As this occurred, people, meaning regular, average Joe individuals, started realizing that they had a voice. These regular people could connect and converse with their peers. And as a result, these conversations provided value.
With the power of this concept starting to sink in, the shift in communication began to evolve. What helped this concept grow and evolve even more, however, was largely due to free blogging platforms such as WordPress and Blogspot as well as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter coming onto the scene.
As these events started to unfold, businesses also started seeing changes. Now that essentially everyone had a voice, their job became harder. Businesses could no longer dictate the message they wanted consumers to hear. The roles became reversed.
At this time, businesses started seeing the true value of new media and began embracing it. If you fast-forward to today, all social channels have grown exponentially. Businesses that recognized the shift in communication early on are finding that social media is simply an extension of their traditional marketing strategy. Others that have been late to the game are playing catch up. And, of course, there are some who have yet to join in that will, unfortunately but likely, face many challenges when they realize the importance of social integration.
The “fad” factor comes into play as there are so many new social networks being introduced in today’s world. There are a LOT of social networks in today’s world. From image-based networks to video-based networks and beyond, it’s incredibly hard to keep up with them all, especially when they are geared toward very niche verticals.
Will one of these rise up to become the next Facebook? It’s possible. But, at this point, no one knows. Back in MySpace’s day, most of its users probably thought it was here to stay. The trend, however, changed.
With Facebook, it is somewhat different. While it is true that Facebook is losing some of the younger generation of users, this doesn’t mean that it’s dying. Facebook is still the go-to place for many users next to email. In fact, recent statistics from Digital Marketing Ramblings show that Facebook has 1.15 billion users, and 699 million daily active users. Does this sound like a site that’s dying? It is certainly possible that Facebook may not be around at some point. But, it doesn’t seem to be headed in this direction any time in the near future.
More importantly, even if Facebook goes away, there will be another network(s) that everyone will be using. Unless the communication model moves backward, which in all honesty is next to impossible, social media is here for the long haul.
A new study from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that social media usage among U.S. adults has risen 800 percent in just 8 years. Also among noteworthy news, Twitter users have grown 125 percent since 2010.
On the business side, a study from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research shows that the corporate world gets that social media has immense value too:
All these reasons are more than proof to squash the “Is social media a fad?” debate. Instead, how about we focus on making the current social platforms better for businesses to succeed?