The Constantly Evolving Social Media Landscape
If one truth can be said of social media over the past decade is that using apps and the internet to communicate with people we know (and even people we don’t) in this way is not going to going away any time soon. However you look at it though social media is constantly evolving as are the needs of its users. Some apps are useful in our daily lives, some are just fun, some, however all are watched closely by businesses across the globe with an appetite for acquisition.
Social media innovation key to retaining users
The raft of new features across Facebook and rollout of new layouts on Linkedin and Twitter are testament to the need for innovation among social platforms and how this innovation helps to keep users engaged. The same can be said of businesses on social media who constantly need to be thinking of new and interesting ways to deliver engaging content to your online communities.
The now defunct Bebo allegedly once had as many as 40 million users. When AOL acquired Bebo in 2008 Facebook was already well on its way to stealing the social media crown of largest social network. Twitter invested in video by acquiring start-up Vine in 2012, before the app had officially launched. When it did launch in 2013 it was still before the trend of streaming videos on mobile apps was less common, not least of all because long, more data heavy videos would mean a higher cost of data than today. As the number of smartphone owners increased so did the internet speeds and the habit of watching video on mobile. The success of these platforms was relatively short-lived therefore, in part, due to the advancement of technology and faster data speeds. Heavy competition from other platforms who were offering new features also contributed to them being sidelined in the social landscape. The very fact that the industry is extremely competitive and ever-changing means that acquisitions of new and emerging networks are popular among established technology companies. Microsoft’s super-buy last year was of course Linkedin for a little over £20 Billion ($26 Billion). And this demonstrates how much the computer giant was willing to wager to have a stake in the sector. In reality big companies can afford it and it represents good value in terms of being able to have a share of the market as well as access to the data and learnings it brings.
The Vine example is a stark warning both for and against acquisitions. On one hand it was a failure; the business was did not generate any profit for Twitter and the network had effectively peaked by the end of 2013. The same year as both Instagram and Snapchat launched their video features. This is no coincidence and just one example of social networks borrowing and taking inspiration from competitors. At the same time Vine could have been a threat to Twitter, and it was an attempt to spread the company’s influence. When it was clear that financially it was not going to deliver a return on investment and Twitter itself struggling to find a place in the modern landscape Twitter Inc could have opted to sell off the dwindling short video platform. Instead though by allowing it to die Vine was blocked a second time from posing any opposition or embarrassment to Twitter’s business in the future.
The social media landscape has changed significantly over the last five years and acquisitions continue to be a key factor for the large players. Only in the next five will we have a better understanding of whether the other acquisitions prove to be successful or not.
Recently we’ve seen Facebook adopt Snapchat-style filters in its messaging app and Google announce its intentions to launch a personalised homepage on mobile and desktop here in UK in the near future.
Our infographic below shows the current state of affairs across different social networks, their value and the various acquisitions.
Social Media Super-Buys Acquisitions Infographic