Let’s take a walk down memory lane. Think back to your first-ever social media profiles. Xanga and Myspace (Rest in Peace) are buried six feet under in the hypothetical graveyard of deceased social networks… the likes of which now includes Google Plus and Vine. As you look at your digital marketing strategy, you may feel alarmed. Is social media dead?

When considering the social platforms that still remain among us mortals — Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to name a few — are their futures equally as bleak? And what do their prognoses mean for social media marketers and your marketing strategy? In this post, we’ve rounded up some differing opinions from the experts.

No, It Isn’t Dead

PAVLOV argues that organic social media won’t die as long as it’s used efficiently. By showing authenticity and relevance, brands can join the conversations with their consumers rather than just shouting into the void at them. In a 2017 study by SmartInsights, 86% of consumers prefer an authentic and honest brand personality on social networks. Showing your brand’s voice on social media platforms can be a way to resonate with your audience and convert followers into loyal brand advocates.

Social media shouldn’t be used as an ongoing sales pitch. Instead, brands should take advantage of organic methods to showcase their authentic voice, culture, and creativity. — PAVLOV

B Squared Media recognizes the seemingly impossible task of even getting anyone to see your brand’s social media posts. (Much less getting people to interact with them.) But they highlight the unmistakable benefits that social media can bring. Not only is it cost effective. Because organic social is free. But it also provides a platform to take advantage of SEO and provide customer care.

Organic social media may not instantly increase your vanity metrics, but it’s an important place to have a presence. From customer care and authenticity to experimenting with your brand’s creative voice, all businesses should aim to create and maintain an organic social media presence. — B Squared Media

Yes, It’s Dead

MethodDesign cuts right to the chase in their blog post, “Social Media is Dead.” Social media is no longer about reconnecting with old friends like it used to be. These days, it’s less about social networking and more about being another avenue for brands to promote themselves. This is a turn-off for younger generations. Many in the younger demographics prefer not to broadcast their every move to a large group. They’re more interested in small group or one-to-one communication.

In fact, according to a 2018 forecast by eMarketer, social network giant Facebook is losing younger users even more quickly than expected. Less than 50% of U.S. internet users aged 12-17 are visiting the site or app each month via desktop or mobile device. And Facebook was estimated to lose 2 million users aged 24 and younger. Though these users may simply be migrating to other platforms.

The standard stuff we use today is regarded by the youth as ‘uncool’. It’s the nail in the coffin, especially in this industry. — MethodDesign

Duct Tape Marketing takes a hard stance on proclaiming not only the death of social media, but its irrelevance as well. Rather than focusing on social media strategies, they suggest focusing on digital marketing strategies that live up to customers’ high expectations. This includes more emphasis on customer experience and collaboration. They also reference enhancing offline activity with online activity, rather than replacing it.

Everything that we called social media is irrelevant and mislabeled — there’s a new way of doing business and marketing for sure, but it’s a behavior and focus on customer involvement that’s become a new norm – and that’s all there is to it. — Duct Tape Marketing.

Looking Into Social Media’s Future

While consumers may be experiencing social media fatigue online, it doesn’t mean that all hope is lost, says MakeTechEasier. Despite lack of trust, fake news, bots and influencers, oversaturated news feeds, and a decreasing number of active users in some platforms, this may only be a transitory phase.

Internet users are beginning to value their privacy more. So they may be less likely in the future to continue sharing content to large audiences on social networking sites. Therefore, as some trends are certain to fall away, others will replace them — likely AR/VR, artificial intelligence, and more voice-driven applications.

Social media, in its traditional sense of sharing unfiltered posts and opinions, may have already reached its saturation point. A course correction seems inevitable in that the very concept of social media might evolve into something else. — MakeTechEasier

LogoGrab makes some predictions for the conditions that will be necessary for social media to survive. In addition to increased privacy and security, they anticipate more visuals and video, more memes, and more mobile-focused experiences. Things they expect to trend downward? We should anticipate less personal content, advertisements, and typing. Baidu’s Chief Scientist Andrew Ng predicts that at least 50% of online searches will be conducted by voice or image this year.

Rather than bombarding them with ads, which continues to frustrate many social media users, brands must connect with their audiences on a more meaningful level by treating them like individuals rather than a mass source of revenue. — LogoGrab

Sparkcade Says…

No matter which opinion you agree with most, a couple things haven’t changed to help ensure brands to stay relevant in the ever-changing landscape of social media.

First, companies should look to social media as part of an integrated marketing strategy. And second, authenticity and trustworthiness won the day in the early days. They will continue to be key in making connections with consumers in the digital world. Social media sites may be losing the one-to-many aspect for people to connect with others quickly. Still, brands have entered this space and are likely here to stay.

The question? Will brands evolve to keep up with the new demands of social media users? Or will they be left behind after failing to adapt or misinterpreting their customers’ expectations.

Here at Sparkcade, we’re always learning and evolving when it comes to the social media and digital marketing landscape.

If you’re ready to level up your marketing efforts, reach out and have a dedicated player join in.