As people, we love free things. Therefore, it’s hard to imagine a social media site where we have to pay to be a member. How will they pay their hosting & maintenance fees then? Through ads. Thus, we have social media marketing. In 2016, Facebook generated approx. US$27.6 Billion in ad revenue.
Source: Facebook Press Release
The Biggest Social Media Platforms as of 2017
- Facebook: 1,500 million unique visitors/month
- YouTube: 1,499 million unique visitors/month
- Twitter: 400 million unique visitors/month
- Snapchat: 300 million unique visitors/month
- Instagram: 275 million unique visitors/month
- LinkedIn: 250 million unique visitors/month
- Reddit: 125 million unique visitors/month
- Pinterest: 105 million unique visitors/month
Snapchat, founded in 2011, is the newest noteworthy player in the industry. In 2014, Snapchat refused Facebook’s US$3 Billion acquisition deal. Since then, Snapchat has gone public and has soared to valuations of US$20 Billion in recent times. Facebook is currently worth about US$350 Billion. Of course, these values are not reflective of their current actual value but rather what they will be worth in the future.
Facebook will continue to dominate
As a social media marketer, it’s important to understand these platforms beyond their financial valuations and their usage. It’s assumed by many that Facebook is the most prone to disruption.
Peter Theil, one of the earliest backers of Facebook, said in an interview that Facebook may be the last social media platform. This is likely to be a good prediction because Facebook does one thing really well, which is to connect people. Just like Google does something really well, which is to index information by relevancy. This does not mean that other social media platforms will not exist.
YouTube does video really well and is displacing television. Snapchat pioneered in-the-moment microblogging. Facebook copied its features but they aren’t being used by many. Not to forget, Google tried many times to create a social network but failed.
Facebook has some core functionalities figured out (privacy-focused connectivity), the dynamics of which are hard to beat.
AI needed for scaling content moderation
New players are able to compete because Facebook is not perfect. It constantly gets negative press for inappropriate content. This problem is faced by YouTube and Reddit as well.
Recently, YouTube has demonetized inappropriate content. Reddit had gone the route of policing content in 2015. In recent years, Google & Facebook have both gone the policing route following Reddit.
Much like the real world, policing is required to maintain a vibrant and enriching community. The only problem with human moderators is the lack of scalability.
Artificial Intelligence is the next frontier in technology and the first social media company to adopt a viable AI for content moderation will become the top dog. Till then, the top two positions are interchangeable between Facebook & YouTube and the 3rd position constantly up for grabs.
Facebook usually has higher ROI
Content creators who are true to their art will remain indispensable. Any platform changes will be easily adaptable since these platforms thrive on ease of use.
I personally have experienced that Facebook generates the highest ROI on advertising in the social media landscape. My only other advertising choice would be the Google search engine which isn’t really a social media platform.
Many advertisers do quite well on platforms like LinkedIn, Reddit & Pinterest. I am a big fan of all of these platforms but customer acquisition cost has almost always been higher for me on those platforms because they tend to be quite niche oriented. For example, getting a business lead on LinkedIn can cost me US$10 but I could acquire a similar person on Facebook for $5 with the right filters. In certain cases, this is not true. Lifestyle brands can do amazing on Pinterest but Facebook’s performance is right up there with it.
I deactivated and reactivated my Facebook several times since 2013, mostly because it was distracting and a lot of the activity was time-wasting nonsense: likes, shares & laughs. It’s 2017 and I use Facebook regularly for advertising purposes with phenomenal results.
Email might get displaced but Facebook will not. You cannot see & touch Email the way you can with Facebook. Not to mention, Facebook & Microsoft’s recent venture into Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality. In that aspect, social media marketers can expect to work with 3d artists in the near future.