“Social media is like a disease that spreads, and then dies.” Time Magazine stated this based on a study from Princeton comparing social networks to infectious diseases. The study predicts that Facebook will lose 80% of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017. Regardless of how you project Facebook’s future, it’s hard to deny that Facebook’s “cool factor” has been in an absolute free-fall over the past several years to the point that it is now virtually nonexistent.
To which networks are the younger generations turning? Private and/or anonymous, mobile-friendly networks that are based on messaging (where their parents can’t find them). And networks where they can share small photos and videos with their friends. Below are 6 up-and-coming networks that have potential to blow up soon.
One cannot overstate the impact of having the financial and promotional backing of Floyd Mayweather and Justin Bieber. These two names might not resonate with marketing people in boardrooms at big companies, but they certainly do with the younger generation. Mayweather used Shots to announce his much anticipated fight with Manny Pacquiao a few weeks ago. Mashable published this interesting article that profiled the rise of the app and how Mayweather and Bieber became involved with Shots’ CEO and co-founder.
But what is Shots? Functionally, it’s essentially Snapchat but limited to selfies. There’s no uploading photos, commenting or follower number listings, which speaks to the anonymity factor I talked about earlier. Other notable influencers on the network include Ariana Grande, Tyga, Kylie Jenner and Snoop Dogg. I’d keep an eye on Shots based on those names alone.
In my list of under-the-radar social networks, YikYak has to be at the top of it. I’m not sure if it’s even fair to include it on the list. It’s so popular among high schoolers that it’s estimate to be blocked in 85% of high schools in the US. One 19-year-old student at University of Texas says that many of his classmates use the app directly before class.
YikYak is used to post content that’s only visible to people within a 10 mile radius of you. Like Reddit, you can like or dislike the content which then affects how highly the posts (called “Yaks”) rank in the feed. There are no profiles or followers, just regional content. The 19-year-old laments that the app is virtually useless during vacations and holidays.
Yo has an interesting history. It was created in eight hours and launched on April fool’s day. Originally, its only functionality was the ability to send notifications. Since then, it has added a number of features, including the ability to send links, locations and create user profiles.
Aside from its cool, understated name, Yo has made its mark based on its simplicity. Even describing Yo is somewhat difficult without showing folks how it works. I think that the best way to describe its impact is that “Yo Has Harnessed the Power of Push Notifications.” By following your favorite blog or website on Yo, you give them the ability to send you push notifications with their latest and greatest content, for you to then open with the slide of your finger.
Whether or not Yo has staying power is a major question mark, but with $1 million dollars in investors Yo definitely has a leg up on the competition.
Kik, WeChat and Line
While I wish I had some glowing insight into these (relatively similar) messaging apps, I’m not nearly young, cool or in-the-know enough to say much other than they’re apparently really, really popular. WeChat has 400 million registered users, Kik is at 80 million users and Line has 200 million.
Just over a year ago, Facebook acquired WhatsApp, another messaging app, for $1.5 billion which shows that they see a lot of growth in this space. It makes sense, too. As much as all young Americans seem to dislike Facebook, they still use it because it’s practically ubiquitous. Many people use Facebook almost exclusively as a messaging app, almost like the messaging services of yesterday like AIM and BBM. I’d venture to say that one messaging app is going to overtake Facebook at some point and Kik, WeChat, Line and others are all in the running.
While no one can quite predict what app or network will strike a chord next, we’d be negligent to fail to at least keep at eye on those that are on the rise. These 6 are just a few to keep an eye over the next several months.