Nowadays, just about anyone can launch their own social media platform to the public— but its simplicity doesn’t come without its tribulations. More than half the world uses social media on a daily basis, averaging 2 hours daily on platforms like FaceBook and Instagram. Each year, sites are seeing a 3% increase in user signups, indicating that social media is solidifying its presence in society on a global scale. While these aspects may sound promising to the next social media entrepreneur, it reveals the competitive nature behind the ever-growing technology industry.
Currently, there are 7 platforms that dominate the social media market, with 4 being owned by META corporation. It is estimated that 4.88 billion identities are registered online as of July 2023, making social media the largest international digital connection. Most users are active on 6 or 7 platforms, meaning that a registered account doesn’t guarantee usage. Unlike other forms of media, social media relies on its users to generate content and spur activity, and inactivity guarantees the death of the platform.
META’s recent social media creation, Threads, shows how easy it is for a platform to die out despite its large user base. In an attempt to rival Twitter, META’s biggest competitor, Zuckerberg and team decided to create a platform eerily similar, except users must register using their Instagram credentials and identity, binding the two platforms to each other. At first, Threads saw great success with 27.8 million downloads during the first week in the USA alone. In less than a week, Threads managed to gain half as many users as Twitter, a platform created back in 2006. While these reports seemed promising for the future of Threads, 70% of accounts were reported as inactive by its third week of existence.
While there are various factors contributing to Threads’ decline, perhaps the most notable aspect was Threads dependence on its mother platform, Instagram. Forcing users to link their Instagram credentials to their Threads profile guarantees a lack of curated online identity, which often will lose users’ excitement as it provides nothing new. Content generation, curation, and maintenance is too similar to Instagram, leading to users disengaging. Why maintain another social media profile when Instagram already exists?
This phenomena is certainly not new to the world of social media, yet it’s a cautionary tale about the trials and tribulations of a new social media platform. Even for well established companies like META, a new platform’s success is not guaranteed. It can be difficult to identify how the market will respond to a new social media platform as both technology and people’s desires seem to be changing at rapid rates. Therefore, one must go beyond the technical components in order to ensure their social media platform’s success, and maintain activity.
One of the newest popular social media platforms, BeReal, has achieved enormous success due to its ability to target an aspect of the market missing on other platforms. Built upon “authentic use” , BeReal allows users to post one photo a day highlighting their lifestyle “in real time”. It is now the fastest growing social media app for Gen. Z users worldwide, with a 313% surge of signups this past year. The creators targeted those who felt that social media was “inauthentic”, which seems to be quite the lucrative market. In this instance, identifying a gap within the social media market for users has paid off greatly for BeReal. From its creation in 2020 to now, it seems BeReal is here to stay for many avid social media users.
While social media’s fruitful rewards seem promising to a young entrepreneur, it takes a lot more than one may think to be successful. Take it from companies like META, a projected profit on paper is not always reality for the social media market. It takes great creativity, skill, and perhaps a bit of luck to crack into the ever-expanding world of social media.
Katie Williams, Rome Design Agency