So… So… Social, the fragmentation of social media

As a marketer, everything you thought you knew about social media is about to (or has) changed. You can either continue on your current path with demising returns – or surf the wave that will drown those wrapped in their comfort zone and put you ahead of the game.

From the early days of MySpace on to Facebook and other current popular platforms like Instagram and TikTok, the vast majority of active users were on the same social platform at the same time. But as with all things, social media is constantly evolving and the pace of change is going even faster. Are you ready as a marketer for the next stage and changing your strategy to fit?

To understand how social media is changing, we can look at the history of television. In the early days of TV, there were only a few channels that everyone watched and talked about the big programmes the next day. But with the rise of cable, streaming services, and on-demand programming, we now have access to a vast array of content, and there are fewer moments when everyone is watching the same thing at the same time.

A lot has changed since the early days of cable, is the same now happening to social media

Similarly, social media is becoming more fragmented. While in the past, the vast majority of active online users were on the same network, such as Facebook, we are now dispersing to a wider array of social channels. This means that there will likely never be another MySpace, Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok with a market share on such a massive scale.

Even more challenging for marketers wanting to reach and engage with an audience is which networks people engage with can be extremely local. A new social network may take off in one town, social group, or area of interest. For social networks based on immediate friends then where everyone else local to you will matter. For others, it will be about finding like-minded people.

For businesses, this really does present a challenge. To reach the same level of audience they once had, they will need to develop strategies to cover numerous social networks with the same audiences as before. However, few companies are currently capable of this. Few are focused on trying to find the next big thing, most just managing what they know as the key social networks accepted by their business.

School, college, and university students choose through peer influence their network of choice. They will then move on from education to the workplace but these trusted networks may still be their go-to. Knowing where to go to reach your audience of choice will become a skill in itself.

The winners in this new era of social media will be those who develop strategies that help companies be everywhere but nowhere. This means using AI and other technologies to deliver core messages across multiple social channels without the overhead of the impossible task of trying to do this all with one person or a small team.

Along with the networks the preferred method of consumption will further diversify. Continuing a current trend (that a lot of marketers have not switched onto yet) you need to produce the same content in multiple formats to reach the needs of all your audience.

Hand holding a phone showing icons for social media sites
With further fragmentation, the number of social media channels you need to target will grow

AI will play a critical role in this new era of social media. It will deliver the ability to be in social channels without really being there, allowing businesses to share core messages without the burden of managing multiple channels and the cost of a large team. It will help you take one piece of content and repurpose optimised for multiple formats which match the variety of your audiences – based on how they will be most likely to consume and respond to it on that channel.

By being on multiple social channels sometime the results may surprise you, which is a good thing. Rather than being based on your assumptions of where you should be, your digital footprint will evolve over time and as tools evolve their ability to improve messages and formats based on what works on different networks will too.

As consumers change their use of social media so must you. It’s perfect timing for new AI-driven tools to help you manage and maximise your effectiveness in the new social landscape.

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