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Social Media - Looking back, facing forward


Whether you’re using social media for yourself, for business or both, there’s no denying the impact it’s had on global communication over the last 20 years. It’s linked cultures, opened the lid on private lives and influenced politics. Above all, it’s cemented itself as an inextricable part of our culture.

Has the crown begun to tarnish?

Once social media began its stratospheric rise, it often felt like its constant presence would never diminish. However, with changes in privacy laws and algorithms working against businesses and commercialisation, it’s possible the thrill is starting to wear off. 

Facebook user numbers have been in decline for the last couple of years, and repeated bad press has dented the platform’s reputation. Twitter seems constantly caught in the middle of those who feel they are overly censorious and those who feel they don’t do enough to combat bullying and harassment. Snapchat fell victim to a phishing scam and leaked user information, and Instagram is constantly battling the perception it feeds into low self-esteem and poor mental health among users.

Wherever you look, social media platforms are under fire. Only the old stalwart LinkedIn seems to able to escape controversy.

It’s hard to say what the future holds

There’s no question that social media will continue to be a core channel for any Digital Marketer. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if focus begins to drift back towards more traditional marketing methods over the next few years.

Indeed, we’re already seeing pushback against our increasingly digitised world. Independent print magazines are having a field day and sales of print books defied all expectations and rose from 2014-2018, while eBook sales remained steady or even fell. A 2017 study found that 63% of British schoolchildren wouldn’t mind if social media had never been invented, and 71% had undertaken at least one temporary ‘digital detox’.

We might think this means social media is finally losing its grip. But one thing that can be said for certain about social media is that, no matter what, it remains hugely unpredictable. 

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