How social media platforms fared in 2013

2013 saw a lot of changes in the world of social media. Facebook brought clickable hashtags, Twitter went public, Pinterest sold ad space through Promoted Pins, Instagram added video media and Google Plus unfortunately remained a failed social media experiment.

Social media platforms not only saw updates this year— their popularity and usage trends changed. Pinterest and Instagram have surpassed Twitter in popularity and Facebook remains the most popular platform but is experiencing a changing demographic.

Twitter vs. Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn

Recent data from the Pew Research Centre demonstrates that Twitter is not faring well compared to some of the up-and-coming competing social media platforms.

Twitter’s biggest threat is Instagram, the fastest growing app in 2013 that has expanded its audience by 66 per cent this year. Pew found that 18 per cent of adults use Twitter, while 17 per cent of adults now use Instagram, and both platforms have a nearly identical audience.

“Twitter and Instagram have particular appeal to younger adults [and] urban dwellers… And there is substantial overlap between Twitter and Instagram user bases,” wrote Pew.

Instagram may be one percentage point behind Twitter in popularity, but the picture and video sharing application boasts more active users than Twitter. 57 per cent of Instagram users access the site once per day and 35 per cent access it several times per day. In comparison, 46 per cent of Twitter users visit the site once per day and 29 per cent do so several times per day.

Instagram has also challenged Twitter through its new direct message software that mimics the capabilities of Twitter. According to Kevin Systorm, the chief executive of Instagram, this new feature is designed as “a simple way to send photos and videos to your friends”. Systrom added that Instagram “is focused on capturing and sharing moments. The important thing is being able to go back to them and continue the conversation”.

Unfortunately for Twitter, they also face another rival: Pinterest. 21 per cent of adults use Pinterest, while 18 per cent use Twitter. Luckily for Twitter, Pinterest has a low daily usage rate and unlike Instagram, the main audiences for Pinterest are different than Twitter.

As a result, Pinterest does compete overall for social media attention, it does not seem to be in direct competition with Twitter.

According to Pew’s research, LinkedIn is the second most popular social media platform after Facebook.

“Pinterest holds particular appeal to female users (women are four times as likely as men to be Pinterest users), and LinkedIn is especially popular among college graduates and Internet users in higher-income households,” reported a Reuters/Iposo poll.

The death of Facebook? Probably not.

Facebook remains at the top of the social media pyramid. Out of the 73 per cent of US adults who use social media, 71 per cent use Facebook. This means that pretty much everyone who has a social media presence uses Facebook.

“Facebook is the default, the gateway, it’s where all of the people are,” said Aaron Smith, senior researcher at Pew Research Centre.

In spite of its reigning success, Facebook’s user demographic is shifting. Its popularity among youth dropped in 2013.

Daniel Miller, a researcher and professor of Material Culture at University College London has played an important role in collecting data for the “Global social media impact study” funded by the European Research Council. Miller has written pessimistically about Facebook’s future. He wrote, “Facebook is not just falling, it is basically dead, finished, kaput, over” among users aged 16 to 18.

“Mostly they are not closing their accounts,” said Miller. “But as a site for their own interactions as a cool peer-to-peer site, I think it really is dead…The reason they still have Facebook is mainly for connecting with family, plus some minor functions like their photo albums or organizing parties.”

As more and more adults venture into the Facebook-sphere, the site is becoming less appealing to youth and they are migrating to different platforms.

“Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists  that they stay there to post about their lives. Parents have worked out how to use the site and see it as a way for the family to remain connected. In response, the young are moving on to cooler things,” said Miller.

Teens are diversifying their social media presence through sites like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Since Facebook owns Instagram, the company is not suffering too big of a blow. Social media is fluid and subject to trends. Like other platforms, Facebook is just undergoing some changes.

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