I must admit, I’m still surprised when a new social media platform rises to the top of the charts. With literally thousands of platforms in the marketplace, it’s difficult to overcome the well-established competition, create something unique and generate an impressive userbase. So, when a platform does break through, it can be shocking when they crumble as fast as they climbed. Why do some platforms thrive while others fail? Let’s look at some of the once-popular platforms that no longer exist:
This one might hurt the most. Vine is credited for propelling video into the limelight; the app helped revolutionize how people created and shared short-form videos on social. The popularity of the app grew quickly and even led to the creation of Vine celebrities. Shortly after Twitter purchased the app in 2013, they struggled to keep pace with competitors – namely Instagram and Snapchat, which were quick to introduce new video capabilities.
What Vine did for social video sharing, Meerkat did for social livestreaming. This innovative video platform allowed users to launch and view live broadcasts on their smartphone. It didn’t take long for big-name social media giants like Facebook and Twitter to recreate this idea on their well-established platforms. Unfortunately, shortly after Meerkat’s release, Twitter acquired rival live-video app Periscope and Meerkat succumbed to the competition.
To challenge Facebook and Twitter, Google launched Google Plus in 2011. The social networking platform saw strong growth in its initial years but didn’t differentiate itself enough to truly compete or steal share from other platforms. By 2019, Google Plus started to shut down after it was revealed that 90% of Google Plus user sessions were less than five seconds. Ouch.
As we continue to see stiff competition from the dominant players, rising concerns over privacy and shifting user behaviors and preferences, which platforms will become extinct in the years ahead? Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I can’t help but wonder whether Clubhouse, Tumblr and Snapchat have an expiration date looming. In my opinion, these are just a few platforms that will have to work hard to keep users engaged and active. Only time will tell – and if they fail, there’s always hope for a comeback story (looking at you YikYak).
What does this all mean for marketers? It’s easy to get star-studded eyes when the “next big thing” pops up. Instead of flocking to the newest platform that offers something unique, stick to the formula that works: understand your audiences, identify which platforms are best suited to reach those audiences (knowing they may change over time) and establish an active, meaningful presence there.
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