On July 5, 2023, Meta (the company that owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp) introduced Threads, its latest app to join the ranks of new social media platforms. Since it came from the ‘father of social media,’ it had instant credibility. Maybe Twitter users were hoping for a potentially more stable alternative, and Instagram users could easily make a linked account with a few clicks. Whatever the reason, users flocked to the new platform in droves. The number of Threads accounts skyrocketed to 100 million within the first 5 days of launch.
The World Turned Upside Down
Almost overnight, it felt like everything we knew about social media had been flipped on its head. If we didn’t join Threads, would all our hopes and dreams be lost? (Okay, maybe not all.) But that led us to question: when new social media platforms are launched, what should our strategy be? Should we jump in right away, test the waters first, or ease in when the water is warm?
Just to put this new platform thing into perspective, we took a look at all the social media platforms launching or in beta testing in 2023. We totally planned to give you a short list, but then we thought better of it. Because that was nearly impossible. One source said there were 20 to watch, another said “Top 11 in 2023,” another said “here are the top 5…”. With the exception of maybe two platforms (BeReal and Twitch), none of those lists overlapped. It’s starting to feel like there is a new social media platform every week.
What about “OLD” Social Media Platforms?
With all this new technology, this begs the question: are all the tried-and-true platforms obsolete? Well…not so fast, Bucko (no offense, that’s just fun to say). As it turns out, Facebook is one of the oldest social media platforms out there (and it’s only 19!), and still remains the most used social media platform in the world at nearly 3 BILLION active monthly users. That’s nearly 40% of the earth’s population.
Just for fun, here is the breakdown of social media platforms by usage (as of Jan 2023 according to statistica.com unless otherwise noted).
- Facebook – 2.9 BB monthly active users
- Youtube – 2.5 BB
- Instagram – 2 BB
- TikTok – 1 BB
- Snapchat – 635 MM
- QQ (chat, call, forums, music+ based in China) – 774 MM
- Twitter – 556 MM
- Pinterest – 445 MM
- Twitch – 120 MM (source: bankmycell)
- BeReal – 20 MM (source onlineoptimism)
Basically, the giants may lose market share, but they are not tumbling down.
For a hot minute, Threads looked like it would become the next Twitter or Instagram, but momentum was lost when a lot of the features people were expecting just weren’t there. They may rebuild, but as of August 2023, just about 8 million users were logging in daily, a far cry from the initial 100 million, and even that number is on the decline.
Will Threads be a one-hit wonder, or will it be able to claw its way back into the ‘socialmediaverse’? And should we scramble to make a BeReal account, or start streaming on Twitch? All good questions. And if you haven’t already, it’s probably time to think about your social media strategy and how new platforms fit into it. Here are some ideas to get your started:
1. Determine your Goals
First, what is your organization’s goal with using social media? Is it awareness, brand loyalty, or just cold hard cash sales? To determine what makes the most sense, consider the decision-making process. For example, if your product is very expensive or requires a lot of effort to implement, then just building trust and awareness is a good start.
However, you should also note that 76% of social media users ultimately end up purchasing something they saw on social media (source: Forbes). So, if you can grab a share of the billions of users and convert them to sales, there is potential for real benefit to your bottom line.
Goals and metrics go hand-in-hand. What you’re trying to achieve (and be realistic, taking one manageable step at a time) will determine which metrics you need to monitor along the way.
2. Consider your Demographic
Next, focus your efforts on where you would most likely encounter your target demographic. Take a look at the key demographics for some of the major social media platforms. (Source: techtarget.com, dataportal.com, and thesocialshepherd.com)
- Facebook: While the majority of Facebook users are between 18 and 34, in the US, apparently more than 60% of adults over the age of 65 also use it.
- YouTube: Largest group is ages 25-34, but there is also a broader range since ages 18-44 account for most of the usage.
- Instagram: For targeting a younger demographic; Millennials and Gen Zers – since 70% of users are under 34.
- TikTok: Nearly 50% of users are under 30.
- Twitter: Hits a majority male audience with almost 70% of users being male and between the ages of 25 and 49.
- Twitch: Nearly 80% are male, majority between 18 and 24. This platform focuses mainly on live-streaming, with gamers and musicians creating much of the content.
- BeReal: Skews female, especially outside of the US, and the largest age group is between 26 and 44 years. Note that there are virtually no users over 45, so the demographic is most likely to be women in their 20s and 30s. This up-and-coming platform encourages users to be authentic by prompting them to post 360 degree photos that cannot be filtered.
This list may be exhausting for some, but it’s not exhaustive. There are many more social media platforms that have a very specific niche where you might join as part of the community and add to the conversation as a brand. If you haven’t already, consider your target and then look around at what communities might already exist for them.
3. Manage your Capacity
Let’s be realistic. If you only have the resources to post infrequently and cannot interact or respond on each network, you may consider just focusing on the big social media platforms. It doesn’t make much sense take a half-hearted approach; you’ll only achieve half-hearted results.
Benefits of Being a First Responder
In our case, when we saw the huge uptick in users for Threads, we decided to jump in right away and give it a try. If it became the next Twitter or Instagram, we would have already learned the ropes, and would be able to help others when they joined the bandwagon. We figured, if it required more resources, we would have to juggle things a bit, and maybe spend less time on other things. Worst case, if it didn’t stick, then it cost us nothing but a few minutes of set up.
Costs of Being a First Responder
The downside is time. If a platform seems to show promise, you could end up spending tons of time learning what works, creating engaging content, and then interacting with users. But that’s risky; what if your target market never really adopts the platform after all? If you’re spending time trying to get people to first adopt the new platform, and then to engage with your content, that could be a huge drain on resources. You’d have to know when to throw in the towel.
Summing It Up
With the changing social media landscape, it makes most sense to keep a pulse on shifts with current platforms and keep an eye on new apps that may appeal to your target audience. You may also want to safeguard the connection with your audience (for example via email) in the event of sudden shifts in social media.
In our case, after we joined Threads there was radio silence, which likely reflects the lack of engagement in general. Womp, womp. As it turns out, you may not have to chase every passing fad. But social media simply has too much potential in terms of reach and revenue to warrant a “set it and forget it” approach.
If you’re still feeling unsure of where to begin, feel free to reach out to us for help!