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Trend: Facebook Fatigue Setting In

Platform extensions are more critical to social media than the sites themselves.

Facebook FatigueSocial media’s super growth cannot continue to defy the laws of physics forever. The time has come for fatigue to set in. According to the GlobalWebIndex Wave 5 Trends report, social media growth has essentially halted amongst 16 to 24-year-olds in the US. Even more surprising, in some countries, social media usage within this demographic is actively declining. The GlobalWebIndex report cites, among others, the following declines in social media activities from July 2009 through June 2011: messaging with friends, sending digital gifts, installing applications and joining groups. These activities are decreasing faster in the US than in other countries, and are doing so at an accelerated rate among American college graduates under the age of 30. The report also revealed an increased demand for professionally developed content including news sources, music and brand information.

Gold Lasso believes this declining trend will quickly proliferate to older age groups as they become more confident they have reacquainted themselves with old social connections.
 
Takeaway: Social media is morphing
Social media is here to stay. But it’s clear the channel is morphing from a website or app centric experience to a ubiquitous one woven into daily activities. As a result of the portability of social graphs and features, this centralized experience is becoming marginalized, lending credence to the notion that social media is more of a utility than a medium. In the long-run, fan and Twitter pages will become less valuable to a business model when compared to an incorporated social media utility. Companies that fail to understand how to leverage this utility for the benefit of their customers will quickly fall behind. The NY Times provides a trite yet fitting example of this with their incorporation of a user’s social graph within their content. From article “likes” to commenting, the NY Times is attempting to leverage all aspects of the social utility to their business model. Some utility functions will inevitably work better than others and oftentimes the stickiness of such features is hard to predict, but the implementation and data collection is key.
We know social media presence is important, but its meaning can easily be lost if companies don’t understand how their customers view the value social media brings to their product. Digital products such as software, publishing and music have already established precedents for social media utility. Manufacturers of physical products are still discovering this value, with companies like Webkins and Coke with “Coke Rewards” as early entrants.  
 
How To:
Surveys and focus groups are an important start, but they won’t tell the whole story. Use them sparingly to shine a light on how your customers view your product within the social sphere. To better understand what functionality social media utility will offer, you will need to familiarize yourself with various social networks' APIs. Last week’s Trends & Takeaways covered social media data and how to ethically obtain your customers’ data via these APIs. It’s possible after researching your options you’ll prefer to create your own social network. With technologies from Ning and Joomla’s JomSocial component, this process is actually quite intuitive and user friendly. These days there are so many vendors and open source technologies available that you can effectively leverage an inclusive social media utility instead of settling for a simple fan page.

 

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