Skimming through the Metro earlier this week I was confronted with the news that I had long suspected to be the case – Facebook is totally uncool, but we love it too much to leave it alone.
So what’s new? In the same way that an alarming number of people seem to suffer from Mobile Anxiety Syndrome (fear of being without your mobile phone), it seems that we as consumers of information have a thirst for what is going on in our social worlds, whatever it is, no matter how cool!
Facebook added hashtag support back in the summer of 2013, which in theory should increase the viral effect of posts and mean big business for social campaigns. They have now moved this on one step further by building in trending topics, allowing Facebook users to see what’s hot.
This is all well and good, but the stats show that the Facebook hashtag has flopped and had little to negative influence on viral effectiveness!
To me it seems that by copycatting Twitter, the world’s number one social platform is in danger of losing its identity and doing what it does best – letting you know what the people you care about are doing or saying regardless of topic. It couldn’t be easier.
We use Twitter for something totally different – finding out about a specific topic or trend that anyone in the world can be talking about. The trend or hashtag acts as a flag to signal to anyone, anywhere, in a crowded digital labyrinth that you are talking about the same thing as them. Twitter is active and requires search whereas Facebook simply requires scrolling. So, will Trending topics be a success? I don’t know…and I’m not sure anybody else could bet either way with confidence.
The message I’m trying to get across here is not that Facebook is dead, nor that it is better or worse or less effective at everything than Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine. Social trends are changing all the time and with it will be some trial and error, some successes and failures. Whilst the number of 16-19 year olds using Facebook has taken a hit, the number of teenagers using Facebook mobile is on the up. This stat shows us how complex the social space is, and just how important it is that we keep on top of it to understand how these tweaks, upgrades and new features impact what we do.
What we know is that people like information. That’s not likely to go away, if you look at the rapid adoption of smartphones in the UK. What we don’t know is what’s next for the social space and Facebook (like the others) are keeping us guessing. However, whether the Facebook hashtag or trending topics takes off, we’re sure as hell going to need to know how these features can impact our social campaigns. Know your stuff and you’re more likely to deliver great things for your clients…then all the cool cats will be trying to copy you!