Recently, the Telegraph ran an article titled “Teens drift away from ‘traditional’ social media networks.” The article is a pretty classic example of a generic evaluation of millennials on social media: They are digital natives, they do not like Facebook because their parents are on it, etc. etc.
Now before you go packing up your Facebook toolkit forever, keep in mind that these reports want to anticipate a trend with very, very loose underpinnings at the moment. Teens still use Facebook (in fact, almost all social media users use Facebook) and even if teens are drifting away, they will most likely come back. It is going to take a revolutionary shift in the way we think and feel for those networks to disappear. Probably.
What I am more interested in is the “tradition” of certain social media platforms as opposed to others, and the new dichotomy that is rising between the corporate giants of old (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and the new, “nontraditional” social media (which the Telegraph says includes Snapchat, WhatsApp, WeChat and Kik Messenger). The tone of this conversation has changed entirely. If you Google “traditional social media,” the articles that come up have nothing to do with distinctions between social media, but rather traditional media vs. social media, which was a huge concern for marketers before we knew what digital media could really do.
You will not see many articles like this one these days. If you are running a marketing department, you have probably figured out the differences between print and digital advertising at this point. However, what the Telegraph tells us is that soon, you will not be making that decision anymore. Instead, you will be choosing between “traditional” social media and “nontraditional” social media.
In a way, platforms like Snapchat are filling the role that Facebook did for marketers, when it completely upset the market and revolutionized the way we market products. It was a little risky, a little unknown and a pretty open space for invention. Ann Hadley writes an interesting article about when Facebook launched marketing in 2004: “It seems cute and provincial to think of that time before Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vine . . . and the rest as ‘crowded,’ doesn’t it? This was before content marketing was a thing; before his first infographic was a twinkle in Joe Chernov’s eye.”
Today, nontraditional platforms are filling that role instead. These platforms are not as crowded or pay-for-play as Facebook or Twitter, and there is room for innovation, creativity and trailblazing, since there is a smaller group of people using those platforms for marketing purposes.
On the other hand, if you are looking to do “the greatest good for the greatest number” and reach a high quantity of users, you can’t beat traditional platforms. Right now, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram reign supreme, so your chances for a smokin’ hot ROI there are simply better.
Most of our clients are on Facebook and Twitter, and that is universally a good choice. The moral of the story is that our cultural dichotomy is changing. We no longer ask whether magazine or Facebook ads are better or worse; rather, we have shifted the focus to the digital realm. And as always, where you are is all about strategy.
Image credit: CC Esther Vargas