With one billion users, Instagram is undeniably the most popular social networks at the moment..
Instagram is undeniably the most popular social networks at the moment.
Having reached the billionth user, the platform rendered has-been its owner Facebook – deserted by Generation Z a while ago already. It even succeeded in overshadowing Snapchat by greatly inspiring itself from the platform’s very functionalities and specificities.
However, Instagram is going through a bit of a rough patch. Aside from the resignation of one of its founders in September 2018, the social network is at the heart of health professionals’ every worry. Awarded the most harmful app for its users’ mental
health by a survey from the Royal Society for Public Health among 1500 young Brits, the app has been facing a myriad of critics over the last few months.
Exacerbating the importance of perfect bodies, encouraging narcissism and individualism and reinforcing its users’ feelings of anxiety and loneliness, the social network is in troubled waters. So much so that it had to announce the creation of a team dedicated to user wellbeing whose mission still remains blurry to date.
Additionally, Instagram users have been leading a revolution for a short while and hijacked its core use of exposing one’s life for all to see by using private accounts where they unveil their true emotions and do not showcase a perfect life. Less smooth, filter-less – if not raw –, these accounts called Finstas – mix of “fake” and Instagram – are the prerogative of generation Z. Born in the digital and social network era, it is wading through all their negative impacts without truly ever detaching from it. The goal of these private accounts is to share one’s life in a more authentic manner with a smaller group of people part of their real friend circle.
This private account practice is slowly spreading to brands the likes of Everlane and its Instagram account Everlane Studio dedicated to their shoes aiming to create a more authentic and qualitative relationship with its followers who are genuine lovers of the brand.
The social network tries to adapt to its members’ new uses. For the Tech Disrupt 2018 convention, Instagram announced the creation of a “Close Friends” option. Integrated to the “Stories” functionalities, this option will allow users to create a list of people with whom they will be able to share videos in a more personalized and intimate manner. The platform’s product director justified this new option explaining “to be truly yourself and be connected with your best friends, you need your own space”.
Thus, Instagram moves to react in the face of its increasingly more distrustful audience – which specific to its generation’s characteristics is volatile with a tendency to get bored more or less rapidly of technological innovations continuously thrown in their path.
Thus, it is now relevant to wander about Instagram’s potential future competitors.
Overview of emerging social networks to watch closely…
Community, a key lasting value
The Millennials’ fundamental value – here the broad definition of the generation (Gen Y + Gen Z) – community is at the heart of many recent and repositioning initiatives from emerging brands. Thus, it appears natural that new apps place all their bets on the creation and upkeep of passionate tribes.
In 2018, American adolescents have inexplicably set their sights on House Party – an application born in 2016 –, a platform allowing video calls with up to 8 participants. Impossible to explain the enthusiasm for such a basic application which – contrary to Snapchat and Instagram – does not feature filters or emojis and where users have on average 23 friends. According to its young users’ testimonies collected by Business Insider, the need to feel connected with their family and real friends is what pushed these young people to use House Party so massively. A finding confirmed by the co-founder of this neo-network Sima Sistani “social networks were born with the promise of connecting people (…) I don’t feel like today’s social networks have kept this promise”.
20 million users in the US
Average time spent on the application per day: 51 minutes/day
Average age: 24-years-old
Amino: an exclusively mobile social network allowing communities of fans to discover, get informed, connect with other like-minded individuals and create content. The all-in-one platform gathers functionalities from YouTube, WhatsApp, Face Time and Reddit.
With its slogan Find your tribe, Amino, Communities & Group – its complete name – plays its cards right thanks to the plurality of its users’ profiles and addressed themes. Young members populating the application have long deserted Facebook, and Instagram’s purely esthetic aspect is not enough to quench their thirst for sharing and connecting with people having the same areas of interest as them. If the network remains niche & geek (the most popular communities being anime, K-pop and Pokemon), the application recently landed in France and was invested by many influencers such as in the beauty industry finding a new way to discuss the subject among other fans.
At the beginning of democratizing and developing more general subjects, there is no doubt that Amino is an application that brands must look into.
10 million downloads
2.5 million communities
Average time spent on the application: 70 minutes/day
The growing interest for these social networks goes together with a phenomenon observed by Facebook on its platform: the growing use of Groups. Indeed, the social network declared that these pages – created by users to unite a community – went from 100 to 200 million in a year.
The brand social network, a lasting adventure?
Brands are not outdone when it comes to creating online communities and no longer hesitate to feature platforms allowing their customers (the most passionate ones ) to connect and share their interest for said brand. Beyond federating a community on existing social networks or encouraging purchase through dedicated applications, some brands are setting sails on the social network adventure. It is the case for Glossier – a direct-to-consumer beauty brand – aiming to launch its own social network with an e-commerce component. The brand wishes to create a platform within which customers can gather to exchange advices, recommendations and product favorites. If the goal remains the purchase, this network aims to combine and create an interactive space dedicated to a community which greatly contributed to the brand’s success story.
If this initiative is fruitful, it would directly compete against Instagram and its ambition to develop its e-commerce feature.
Still with a feminine target, Sophia Amoruso – former NastyGal CEO and GirlBoss Founder, an initiative turned towards women and empowerment – also decided to create a social network.
It will be a professional network for women – even though all genders are welcome – called GirlBoss Community. Inspired by the creation of a Facebook group by the Girlboss community, the company decided to create a space dedicated to these women. Platform access should begin in January 2019 – very much inspired by LinkedIn it has a yet-to-be-announced price.
Generation Z’s distinctive characteristic is a strong need for uniqueness and self-expression. Therefore, it is not surprising that it rapidly became fond of platforms allowing its members to express their creativity in a playful and easily shareable manner.
The biggest success of the year among teenagers is an app for creating and sharing video content called Tik Tok formerly known under the name Musically. Straight from China, this playback app has known a phenomenal worldwide success among Gen Z in 2018. If the content produced is shareable on other social networks, it is possible to make it exist exclusively within the Tik Tok ecosystem.
500 million users
15 million videos posted per day
A little less known – but growing – is Triller, another application aiming to encourage creativity and its sharing. It relies on artificial intelligence to allow the creation of video content similar to music videos.
Supported by celebrities like Selena Gomez and Rita Ora, the platform has genuinely become a social network when it introduced the possibility to follow other users as well as a feed for other users’ videos.
28 million users
4th most popular application on the French App Store / 12th in the US
Of these two applications is also emerging new icons accumulating followers and with a new hope for influence such as young French girl Lea Elui (8 million followers on Instagram, 500K on Triller) who recently launched a clothing collection in partnership with Triller.
Other features shared by the two applications: the possibility for some users who obtained “creators” status to be crowdfunded by their followers, to finance the pursuit of their passion (singing, dancing, directing…).
An extremely well aligned functionality with its core targets’ aspirations, an ambitious generation Z equipped with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and writing its future in a passionate manner without compromise.
A new type of social networks is starting to develop focusing only on content aiming to inform rather than personal content created by a user.
In line with the climate of citizen tension and mistrust towards traditional powers and in a context of « fake news » proliferation, these new social networks are committed to be responsible for reliable information and federating communities around news topics.
Raftr is the pioneer in this field. Launched in 2017, this network – created by Sue Decker, formerly at Yahoo – describes itself as a conversational platform around news topics (society, pop culture, sports…). Users can follow, discuss and share subjects that interest them on a mobile app. Initially created so that students on American campuses could exchange information (a shared aspect with Facebook), Raftr expanded its horizons and the subjects tackled on its network.
Thus, the user can join groups called “otters” around subjects called “raft”.
Thought like a conversational social network, Raftr insists on information curation to avoid the proliferation of fake news and promises not to share user information to third parties unlike other Silicon Valley giants.
Zig Media – an American mobile application, renamed “the news Instagram” by the New York Times – wants to redefine the discovery step of information. Based on Instagram, this very visual platform gives access to information in the very large sense which is then polished by algorithms depending on subjects that interest the user. Zig largely inspired from Instagram’s interface and picture setting but aims to compete against Facebook as the main source of news for its users (reminder: 45% of Americans mainly get their news from Facebook – Pew Research Center).
If Zig Media is not strictly speaking a social network, the application already has functionalities borrowing from social networks such as having the possibility to interreact with the content, modify it and share it on other networks.
It is an interesting space to watch for brands because of its founders’ ambition to create partnerships with media and brands in the coming months.
Number of users: 1 million users
What about audio social networks?
If – for now – emerging social networks are mainly based on visual contents especially videos – users’ favorite type of content –, it is not too early to wonder about audio content.
Thus, with the considerable importance vocal assistants are taking in consumers’ daily lives from information to purchase as well as the exponential growth of podcasts (52% of French 18 to 24 years-old claim listening to podcasts, Opinion Way- Audible), social networks’ next frontier is most certainly audio.
An Israeli startup had given it a try in 2017 with Hear Me Out a social network allowing to record and share 42 seconds of sound. In spite of a US launch and the participation of many influencers, the network ceased to exist in July 2018.
To be continued…