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Will the next big social network please stand up

02 February, 2015 - Source: Dinosaur

Who's next in line to take the social network crown from Facebook?

With its 1.2 billion users and over £5 billion in revenue, Facebook is the undisputed heavyweight champion of social networks. But it wasn’t always so. Just a few years ago, MySpace held that title, and Friendster before it. 

There was a time when Facebook was merely the next big social network. It’s no surprise then that a veritable industry has evolved around inventing the next big social network – one with the connectivity and stickiness to unseat the champ. This industry has brought many new social networks to the fore – Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vine, to name the most prominent.

So what will be the next big social network? There likely won’t be one.

Looking at those Instagrams and Pinterests of the world – it would seem that lately the social networks that are doing well are those focusing on singular features and benefits, rather than trying to offer something for everyone. And while Facebook may have fed our insatiable need to communicate with one another, many people are taking their conversations to private networks like WhatsApp for chat or Tinder for dating. Others are opting for anonymity with the likes Whispr, Secret, Rumr and Confide.

There’s a lot for a brand to love about Facebook: fantastic reach, loyal users, rich user data, advanced targeting by almost any criterion. Done correctly, brands can find new customers and build the equity of its existing ones.

In the absence of a next big thing, however, brands need to look at different ways to engage users on emergent social networks. Ikea recently built an innovative website within the Instagram app to promote its latest lines. Designer Kate Spade used the Place Pins feature of Pinterest to create city guides. More and more people will be turning to smaller networks for specific needs and interests, and it’s up to brands to understand what creative opportunities exist to engage consumers. But they also need to understand where brands are not welcome.

The upshot for brands:

Don’t rush for a presence on all social networks. Understand which ones are right for you – the ones that provide an intersection between your brand and your customers.

Don’t try to predict the next big thing. Chances are, there won’t be one, and you’ll spend a lot time and effort waiting for audiences to grow.

Think outside the box. Those brands doing innovative things on social networks get the additional benefit of increased word of mouth and PR, which drives more people to their network presences.


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