All markets mature and eventually become a two horse race. Coke and Pepsi, Apple and Microsoft, Google and Bing. In 2014, there were still a few social media sites that were trending. WhatsApp, Vine, InstaGram and SnapChat all popped in 2014. But they still represent a small fraction of the social media market. As 2014 ended, we saw Facebook start to crush YouTube in terms of uploaded video. And video that creating traffic to an external website.
In fact, Facebook is now emerging as the new 800 kilos gorilla in social media. Marketers are seeing Facebook dominate the social media space. While LinkedIn commands the professional niche, as Pinterest and InstaGram command the photo sharing space. The social media space is shaking out.
To give you some perspective, when there was only Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, the industry was young and Google still commanded search. Then search stated to shift to Twitter and Facebook. So Google launched Google+ and YouTube stated to gain traction among marketers.
Next came over 40 other social media sites you never heard of. And the lesser know sites like Flickr, and Myspace still commanded respect. This was the adolescence phase of social media. As with any market, there is a phase when the number of players grows. But then it shakes out. …
Myspace has moved into the niche of a site for bands (musical groups). And while you may no longer hear about it, it’s doing better than Google+, which has been quite a flop to date. Site like Reddit and Digg have a niche role to play, like Dr, Pepper or 7-Up. They command a niche, but the big boys are cementing their position in the social media space.
While Pinterest, Instragram and a few others are growing fast, they have a huge way to go to catch up to the big four: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.
While each has problems, each is closing the door on other social media sites. It’s no longer with “wild west” days of the internet when any social media site can command market share. First, people are getting tired of social media sites in general – and choosing to spend the bulk of their time on one site. And that shift squeezes out room for other players.
When the internet started, eBay was cool. Not so any more. There are too many interesting videos to keep people’s attention. eBay is struggling.
This is the same problem Yahoo, AOL and other portals are having. People are fracturing into niches. And this shift is closing off the market to newer entrants. YouTube is loosing viewers to Facebook for video views for the first time ever. Twitter seems sad compared to InstaGram or Pinterest, and while LinkedIn is profitable, it seems to have cemented it’s place for job hunters and recruiters.
Sites like Yahoo and AOL are nowadays more of a content aggregator than the producer of great content.
Take the example of ELLO. Called the anti-Facebook, this startup stated to gain momentum as the cooler, and more socially conscious Facebook. With no ads, no privacy concerns, it seemed like it would blossom. The main problem is that a lot of people are on Facebook already. And people are reluctant to spend time on two sites that are virtually the same. So poor ELLO is stuck with no oxygen, gasping to gain users to reach critical mass. And that is the problem for most start-up sites. Without enough mass to keep a member’s attention, they lose engagement. When the market has too many social media offerings, people simply don’t have the time to use them all.
And so, 2015 may be the year, that more sites die, as the biggest earn an increasing share of engagement – choking off new entrants, weak competitors – and forcing some into a niche position they can defend. But that’s the way markets always go.