With young people leaving the public streets of Facebook’s global city, I wonder if we are living in the peak years of social media as we know it. Up until now, social media has largely been about public media.
But organizations that rely on Facebook for a large part of their communications outreach should be watching the trends. There was a time when MySpace dominated the social media world. This year, even its $20 million relaunch campaign couldn’t restart the fire.
So what should you be paying attention to now? Messaging Apps. In late November, the Internet buzzed that WhatsApp had eclipsed Facebook as the most popular mobile social messaging app. And the once disregarded Snapchat reportedly turned down a $3 billion takeover offer from Facebook.
Apparently a lot of people are coming to terms with the fact that the Internet is very public and can be very permanent. A recent Business Insider report ranked WhatsApp as the world’s 5th largest social network with 350 million monthly active users. That’s more than the 327 million for Google+ and 240 million for Twitter. That’s more users than Instagram, Pinterest, Foursquare, Vine and MySpace combined.
In 2014, I’ll be watching for startups to harness the power of messaging apps and give organizations a way to reach people who want to reclaim their social media privacy. Ironically, one of WhatsApp’s most serious downsides has been its lack of security and its vulnerability to eavesdropping. The company has been addressing these concerns, so there are likely more changes coming.
It’s generally agreed that Facebook is so entrenched into the fabric of the Internet that it’s not going away anytime soon. I actually still enjoy being connected to so many of the friends I’ve made throughout my life. But just to be on the safe side, I’ll be keeping a close eye on what’s going on with WhatsApp.