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Social Media is Becoming Less ‘Social’ and More ‘Media’

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Social Media is Becoming Less ‘Social’ and More ‘Media’

What’s the difference between social media and entertainment, and on which side of the fence do the major platforms sit? 

Is Instagram a social app, or an entertainment platform? What about Snapchat, or TikTok?

Increasingly, it’s algorithms that are defining what we see in each app, and in that respect, it’s more about straight-up entertainment than it is about staying up to date with your friends. But what does that mean for the broader social media industry, and how marketers go about re-aligning their approach within this shift?

“We’re at an inflection point where it’s less about the connections we’re making with people, and more about the content we’re creating,” says Nick Cicero, vice president of strategy at Conviva. “With the heavy shift to video, it’s less about the social graph and more about the entertainment you’re creating.”

Does that mean that you need to look at the content you create and post in a different way? And if so, how should you now be viewing your broader digital marketing plan?

That’s entertainment

Recent research from Omida found TikTok has surpassed Netflix as the second-most popular app among the under-35 set. The platform’s also poised to become the most popular social media destination for video viewing this year, while last year, it trailed Facebook by less than a minute in average viewing time.

Its impact is being felt throughout the industry, particularly as both social media companies and entertainment brands look to replicate its style and format. 

As explained by Maria Rua Aguete, Omdia’s senior director:

“For broadcasters, commercial or otherwise, keen to engage younger viewers, the increasing importance of TikTok to reach and grow new audiences should not be understated.” 

TikTok’s surge in both video views and users – the platform has about 80 million monthly users in the U.S., 80% of whom are between the ages of 16 and 34 – is prompting marketers to prioritize the channel as part of their social strategies.

But it begs the question, is TikTok a social channel, an entertainment channel or both?

As explained by Leroyson Figueira, a senior creative director at London-based marketing agency 160over90:

It seems that every new digital platform that is not a website nor a utility app is immediately branded a social platform. Without pausing to think, TikTok has also been branded ‘social’ by our industry when it is anything but.”

Figueira further notes that:

“TikTok has film publishers and a film audience. It’s not at all like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. It’s more like a TV channel or Netflix than a social platform. But the most democratic channel in history.”

For what it’s worth, TikTok itself considers itself to be an entertainment app.

Earlier this year, Blake Chandlee, TikTok’s president of global business solutions, made this distinction clear:

“They’ve built their algorithms based on the social graph. That is their core competency. We’re an entertainment platform. The difference is significant.”

That variance in perspective also shifts the way that marketers need to consider the app, and as more platforms look to replicate this approach, that also extends to your overall strategy.

A different era

The way that TikTok has approached its model is unique, in that it looks more like a media company that distributes content, as opposed to a social channel that facilitates person-to-person interaction. 

As a result of TikTok’s success, other platforms are now looking to follow its lead. Instagram, of course, has Reels, while Snapchat’s Spotlight is its own take on the full-screen, vertical-scrolling video, less driven by who you know, and more by what’s driving overall engagement. 

Even entertainment platforms are adopting some of TikTok’s features. The NBA, for example, has included elements like vertical video and “For You” recommendations in its latest app release.  

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Meta Soars by Most in Decade, Adding $100 Billion in Value

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Meta Soars by Most in Decade, Adding $100 Billion in Value

Correction: February 2, 2023 This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article misstated how much Meta expected to spend on its deal with the virtual reality start-up Within. It is $400 million, not $400 billion. Meta’s stock surged on Thursday …

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Twitter’s Cancelling Free Access to its API, Which Will Shut Down Hundreds of Apps

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Twitter’s Cancelling Free Access to its API, Which Will Shut Down Hundreds of Apps

Well, this is certainly problematic.

Twitter has announced that, as of February 9th, it’s cutting off free access to its API, which is the access point that many, many apps, bot accounts, and other tools use to function.

That means that a heap of Twitter analytics apps, management tools, schedulers, automated updates – a range of key info and insight options will soon cease to function. Which seems like the sort of thing that, if you were Twitter, you’d want to keep on your app.

But that’s not really how Twitter 2.0 is looking to operate – in a bid to rake in as much revenue as absolutely possible, in any way that it can, Twitter will now look to charge all of these apps and tools. But most, I’d hazard a guess, will simply cease to function.

The bigger business apps already pay for full API access – your Hootsuite’s and your Sprout Social’s – so they’ll likely be unaffected. But it could stop them from offering free plans, which would have a big impact on their business models.

The announcement follows Twitter’s recent API change which cut off a heap of Twitter posting tools, in order, seemingly, to stop users accessing the platform through a third-party UI. 

Now, even more Twitter tools will go extinct, a broad spread of apps and functions that contribute to the real-time ecosystem that Twitter has become. Their loss, if that’s what happens, will have big impacts on overall Twitter activity.

On the other hand, some will see this as another element in Twitter’s crackdown on bots, which Twitter chief Elon Musk has made a personal mission to eradicate. Musk has taken some drastic measures to kill off bots, some of which are having an impact, but Musk himself has also admitted that such efforts are reducing overall platform engagement

This, too, could be a killer in this respect

It’ll also open the door to Twitter competitors, as many automated update apps will switch to other platforms. This relates to things like updates on downtime from video games, weather apps, and more. There are also tools like GIF generators and auto responders – there’s a range of tools that could now look for a new home on Mastodon, or some other Twitter replicant. 

In this respect, it seems like a flawed move, which is also largely ignorant of how the developer community has facilitated Twitter’s growth. 

But Elon and Co. are going to do things their own way, whether outside commentators agree or not – and maybe this is actually a path to gaining new Twitter data customers, and boosting the company’s income. 

But I doubt it.

If there are any third-party Twitter apps that you use, it’ll be worth checking in to see if they’re impacted before next week.



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Meta ‘Year of Efficiency’ call from Zuckerberg was what Street needed

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Meta 'Year of Efficiency' call from Zuckerberg was what Street needed

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Meta Platforms Inc., center, departs from federal court in San Jose, Calif., on Dec. 20, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

With one simple slogan, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg temporarily quelled investor discontent with his company’s multibillion-dollar investment into the futuristic metaverse.

“Our management theme for 2023 is the ‘Year of Efficiency’ and we’re focused on becoming a stronger and more nimble organization,” Zuckerberg said as part of the release of Meta’s fourth-quarter earnings report.

Following a 64% plunge in Meta’s share price in 2022, Wall Street cheered the report, sending the stock up almost 20%, extending a rally that began late last year. Based on after-hours pricing, Meta is trading at its highest since July.

Growth is not what’s getting investors excited. Meta reported better-than-expected revenue in the fourth quarter, but sales still sank 4% from a year earlier, marking the third straight quarterly decline. And the forecast range for the first quarter suggests that year-over-year revenue could increase, but it could also fall again.

Rather, Zuckerberg’s commitment to cost cuts and efficiency is a sign that increasing profitability is important to Meta, which was known as a growth machine prior to last year’s slump.

“The first 18 years I think we grew it 20%, 30% compound or a lot more every year,” Zuckerberg said on the earnings call. “And then obviously that changed very dramatically in 2022, where our revenue was negative for growth, for the first time in the company’s history.”

In looking to the future, Zuckerberg struck a realistic tone.

“We don’t anticipate that that’s going to continue,” he said, regarding the recent drop in revenue. “But I also don’t think it’s going to go back to the way it was before.”

Meta lowered its estimates for total expenses in 2023 to be in the range of $89 billion to $95 billion, down from its prior outlook of $94 billion to $100 billion. In November, the company announced it would lay off over 11,000 workers, or 13% of its staff.

Zuckerberg said Meta will be more “proactive on cutting projects that aren’t performing or may no longer be crucial” and that it will emphasize “removing layers of middle management to make decisions faster.”

Meta is also reducing spending as it builds new data centers that are intended to be more efficient while still able to power the company’s various artificial intelligence technologies. Capital expenditures are now expected to be in the range of $30 billion to $33 billion for 2023 instead of $34 billion to $37 billion.

Zuckerberg is selling investors on a story they want to hear, acknowledging that the company got bloated and needed more financial discipline. One of Zuckerberg’s top deputies, technology chief Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, wrote a personal essay just a few days ago echoing that sentiment.

Still, Meta has plenty of challenges ahead, in terms of both costs and reviving its core ad business.

Meta’s Reality Labs unit, which is responsible for developing the nascent metaverse, lost $13.7 billion in 2022. Finance chief Susan Li told analysts that the company isn’t planning for any reduction in that unit anytime soon. Zuckerberg still sees it as the company’s future.

Digital advertising, meanwhile, is suffering from a struggling economy, and Li gave no indication that companies are planning to dramatically increase their spending in 2023.

Meta has also yet to recover from Apple’s 2021 iOS privacy update that made it harder to target users with ads. Li said the company has been improving its online advertising system, but Apple’s update is “still certainly an absolute headwind to our revenue number.”

During the question and answer part of the call, Zuckerberg was asked about Meta’s progress in generative artificial intelligence, which has become the latest hot thing in Silicon Valley. His answer indicated that Meta is pursuing opportunities there, but will be cautious in how quickly it proceeds. Running these programs is expensive, and Meta needs to ensure it can develop them affordably, he said.

Zuckerberg said that while Meta is researching how best to incorporate the new technology, he wants “to be careful not to get too ahead of the development of it.”

Correction: Meta’s earnings report and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s comments occurred after the market close on Wednesday. An earlier version misstated the day.

WATCH: Meta grows in daily active users, shares pop on revenue beat

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