Social media futures

Social media futures

“Social media is dead,” Vices proclaimed in November. “The era of social media is ending,” The Atlantic Ocean agreed. Fast company, also stated that “Social networking as we know it is probably on its way out.” Even Elon Musk has questioned, “Is Twitter dying?” in April, just five days before he offered to buy it.

The sentiment is not surprising as the past few months have seen the unraveling of social media giants. Twitter was in turmoil after Musk’s takeover, with a mass exodus of users and employees. The list of Twitter users boycotting the platform reads like a who’s who of pop culture tastemakers. And according to a leaked report seen by Reuters
at the end of October, Twitter lost its most active users, with a mere 10% of users accounting for 90% of the platform’s traffic.

Meta is floundering too. After its massive rebranding in 2021, Meta posted its first decline in sales as a public company in July, and as of October, its profits fell by more than 50%, the New York Times reported. The company’s shares fell more than 24% in October—the lowest price since 2016. And at the start of December, Meta laid off 13% of its workforce.

Meta also faced user dissatisfaction on Instagram. Significant backlash to the TikTok-ification of the platform eventually led Meta to roll back some of the changes it had implemented for Instagram.

As illustrated by these operational struggles and user dissatisfaction, social media companies face a fork in the road: the choice between monetizing their platforms and facilitating true socialization.

Twitter followed the previous route, selling its blue verification checks and reportedly considering adding paid direct messages and fees to watch videos. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram are ramping up in-app purchase options, with TikTok launching its in-app purchase feature for US users in November. “What if TikTok really just wants to sell you stuff?,” said the Financial Times in December in general.

Newer social media participants, meanwhile, focus on creating spaces for intimate and authentic socialization. Dubbed the “anti-Instagram app,” BeReal has gained popularity among younger users for its authenticity and spontaneity. BeReal is a “neat way to deconstruct the formal and fake side of social media,” said Northeastern University sophomore Sean McGuire Bloomberg. “It’s kind of annoying to look at social media sometimes,” agreed Jennifer Lindley, a sophomore at Lehigh University. She told Bloomberg she is tired of staring at “those posed things you know aren’t real”.

Niche is a new decentralized social app that organizes users around shared interests. “Our whole hypothesis is that if you bring people together around the shared interest, purpose, fan club or deep sense of community, that context will lead to richer interactions and better dynamics within the community,” Zaven Nahapetyan, co-founder of Niche, told Wunderman Thompson Intelligence said. . “It looks more like the way we naturally organize,” says Niche co-founder Chris Gulczynski. “We all come together around things that build identity and interests.” is a new metaverse social space. Created by a consortium of architects and designers, the world contains separate spaces for socializing and networking. “[Users] visit not only to meet new worlds, but to immerse themselves in community and collaborate with like-minded peers,” said WHY buildings director Andrija Stojic.

This evolution has been building for a while. It started with early-stage social media safe havens, driving a social media metamorphosis, and more recently with the progression of gaming platforms to outlets for socialization. How social media vanguards and Silicon Valley veterans respond could determine their fate.

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