The news feed, as we know it, will be gone in five years.
Controversial? Somewhat. But, I’m not actually saying that to be a contrarian. I think we may see a shift soon. Here’s why.
First, just take a peek at the current news feed. What do you notice–immediately? Unless you’re lying to yourself, the answer is quite easy: Ads. And, a lot of them. And, it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. According to a recent CMO Survey, marketers expect social media ad budgets to increase by 89% by 2022. Of course, that same survey said that nearly 3 out of every 4 users (74%) think there are too many ads. And that number was 78% for adults 35+ years old. Yikes.
Second, another big shift we’re starting to see is the move from public-facing social media to private social media. In other words, moving from the public news feed to texts, DMs and private groups. This is where social media is going. If positioned among public social media platforms, WhatsApp, Messenger and WeChat would be among the top five platforms in terms of monthly active users.
Also: social media use is generally driven by younger people’s behaviors (in terms of what’s coming next). And, what are those behaviors right now? Well, young people watch a lot of YouTube. If my 15-yo son’s behavior is any indication they also send a lot of private messages. Via Instagram. Via Snapchat. Via text. It’s really all they do. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my son comment on a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter post. Ever. Those are both passive and one-on-one behaviors–not one-to-many.
Finally, for young people (granted, this one tilts male), gaming is the new social experience. Why get together IRL, when you can hook up and play Fortnite virtually for hours on end? This is a relatively new social construct. And, the more time these young people spend on gaming, the less time they’re spending on traditional social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Insta.
So, the ingredients are definitely there for the news feed to gradually lose relevance. I say gradually because this definitely won’t happen overnight. It’s a 5-7 year process. But, I think it’s starting now. And, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if social media marketing looked completely different in five years as a result.
In fact, we’re starting to see what social media marketing 2.0 might look like.
Just look at what Crocs is doing with TikTok. This is the next-level visual creativity that will be needed from branded to get attention in the next 5-10 years. Because, this is the kind of visual content that’s getting attention NOW on TikTok. It’s hard to do. It’s influencer-driven. And, it’s time-consuming. And, it’s happening on a platform that is decidedly NOT built on the traditional feed model.
Just look at what Nike is doing with Fortnite. They recently unveiled new “skins” on Fortnite complete with Nike Air Jordans. If you’re a Fortnite player, you know skins are everything. They are the way you differentiate yourself within the game. A status symbol, of sorts. So, this is a perfect way for Nike to insert itself into the game–and “conversation”–without appearing like an ad. This is next-level social media (more like digital) marketing.
Just look at what Playstation is doing with gifs. Gaming is the new basement experience for today’s youth. Instead of gathering in-person, many kids prefer to sit in front of their own computer screen playing Xbox or Playstation with friends over head sets. And, while they’re playing, they’re definitely communicating–but, usually it’s via text or direct message. Playstation identified that trend and with this collection of gifs is finding new ways to work itself in to the discussion among gamers. Again, this is what social media marketing 2.0 looks like.