Saturday, October 10, 2015

The State of Social Media: Autumn '15

It's that blogging time of year. Early October through the 1st of the New Year has traditionally been the season of the blogger. In celebration of all things blog, I dedicate this post. It's very early Saturday afternoon, there's a little crispness in the air, but the weatherfolk are saying by Monday, we'll be basking in 70-degree temperatures again. A gentle reminder of the summer that was, nature promising nice days like this will come again sometime next year. My coffee pot has just begun perking, so let's get down to business.

Social media. It's all about COMMUNITY. It's built on a foundation made of old BBS services, CompuServe accounts and Instant Messenger posts. In late 2015, blogging is still with us, just not on the same level it was, say back in 2005. For one thing, all of the popular bloggers are ten years older, ten years wiser.

A lot of what blogging was and what it meant to people as it fostered communication and triggered discussion, has changed. We have twitter and facebook to thank for that. A lot of people use facebook the way we once used CompuServe. It has become a familiar (i.e., comfortable) place. Nothing wrong with that, and certainly that aspect is the glue keeping that entire social network together. It will stay strong unless the owners go off and do something stupid to change it.

So we have facebook and the sms-inspired twitter, the current "dominators" of social media - but they've got company. There's yik yak and kik. My particular favorite that I'm recommending to all, WeChat. I haven't for a moment forgotten Pinterest and Instagram. For me, in this niche of time, I'm comfortable with all. Now here's my outlook/forecast of things to come.

Twitter with its recent announcement it is moving to allow more than 140 characters may not be a death knell but it represents a departure certain to alienate it's cache of early users. That initial squadron of netizens that sign on to social media startups and make them can also break them later on down the road. When twitter arrived on the scene, it was unique, unlike yahoo messenger, which basically emulated what a handful of other services were already providing. Messenger lost popularity due to both Facebook which extended services and intricate features yahoo couldn't, and twitter, which could not only concentrate the essence of messenger via direct tweets, but extended that capability via its broadcasting SMS.

Up #Periscope! Some call it "twitter TV." I like the way it works right now. I fear twitter will make changes to it people don't want or need. Think MySpace. If it ain't broke don't fix it. P'scope it is the heir apparent to the long-vacated throne of CuSeeMe. It's a great service and can be used professionally by journalists as well as personally by users. But the same can be said of Instagram and WeChat. Skype is more of the videophone children of the 60s were promised by the old Bell Telephone system.

I detect a loss of interest in Pinterest. It has definitely peaked. But WeChat - there's a lot of possibility there! I have subscriptions to The New York Times and Vogue via WeChat. It's no secret I'm pushing weChat here. It is mucho popularo across Asia, where it is even used as a bill payment system (that feature has yet to be seen on the North American version). Unlike twitter and facebook, WeChat is app-based, not web-based. But you can chat with your WeChat contacts on yourpc or laptop. The function can by accessed via from any computer browser. RumorsCity has a wonderful mini-tutorial you should see!

WeChat pulls the best features from twitter, Sina Weibo, facebook and Instagram. WeChat "moments" lets you shoot photos and share them with your friends. No photos? No problem: You can send text updates using this method too! Open the discover tab and then choose moments When you go to the next screen you will see an album cover. On the top corner, you will find a camera icon. Press the camera button for a few seconds until you see the next screen. Type the text message you want to share with your friends now and click on Send. HINT: If you tap the camera icon quickly, you can send that photo instead!

 I asked some online columnists and bloggers for their comments on the state of social media.

 Christina Nicholson: "If Twitter loses the 140 characters, it's like, what's the point?"

Aileen Van Pelt: "I agree with you on Twitter and Periscope. Video is huge, especially when you can live broadcast and engage with your viewers at the same time."

Constance Jones still thinks Twitter is #1. "Periscope is still just a baby. We need to wait another year or two --to see what happens. Look at Vine! We all thought that was the NEXT BIG THING." Gee whiz, yeah --- I forgot all about Vine! Anyone remember WhatsApp?

Lisa Lee Arneaud: "I think it all depends on the age group you are talking about. I'm a mom of teenagers and they live on 1) Snapchat 2) IG 3) YouTube. Arneaud adds "My 13 yo son says based on what he hears everyone talking about at school, it ranks in the following order: 1) vine 2) IG 3)snapchat 4) twitter." Hey! He mentioned Vine!

Kristen Miller Hewitt says "Twitter for me is a life saver! I follow all of my favorite writers in one place and can easily see their articles for the day. I literally get all of my news from Twitter, and game prep for HEAT game broadcasts. Periscope is another big one I love, and as a mom FB is queen! But as Lisa Lee Arneaud said, each age group has their own set of priorities. Snapchat is not even on my radar!"

For a different perspective, I went half a world away in search of one of my favorite online personalities, eMarketer & blogger Ann Liu, who is actively involved in E-Commerce, social media & digital marketing. Here is Ann's take:

 1) Even though Twitter has been online for long time, it has its strength, plus they are continuing to improve the app, but it also makes you frustrated since there are too many user & their team can’t fix all the Bugs each individual’s account is facing. Plus too many spam accounts.

 2) Periscope is hot now, since there is just something captivating about raw, unedited video, millennials like it because they find experiences to be more exciting than material things. Periscope appeals to this generational desire. Brands can engage with millennials through product launches, special offers and contests, live Q&A sessions, behind-the-scenes footage, sneak peeks & teasers etc.

 3) Facebook, a platform which always innovates & improves itself, new features keep rolling out from time to time, the FB Mention feature, once it rolls out to the mass (now only rolled out to ios celebrity users), brands can engage with its audiences in a more fun way, similar to Periscope.

 4) Instagram belongs to FB, since its ads feature rolls out to everyone, I think more business & brands will be on it .. from the performance of engagement rate - Instagram performs better than FB (too many users plus FB filter & algorithm system)

 5) WeChat, for many, it is considered the mobile WhatsApp of China. For any business who is looking to market internationally, WeChat should be at the very center of its mobile marketing plan – it has massive audience base, all-in-one system, the flexibility to connect to 85,000 other apps, wallet replacement, advertisement integration, communication enhance and lot more … WeChat isn't just a social app, it's a lifestyle app...

What are YOUR thoughts?

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