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Social media getting more spontaneous and less personal

Matt Kapko | March 12, 2014
Deliberate status updates are losing luster as quick, impromptu, short-lived activity on social media gathers momentum. If the first phase of social media was a massive effort to share our online identities, this current wave is all about fleeting encounters.

"There's a trend towards we don't need to keep it, it can go away," Lieb says. "We've had this expanding social graph, maybe we'll have a contracting one."

Spontaneous Apps No Threat to Facebook
While the popularity of more spontaneous apps is rising, analysts are by no means writing off Facebook and its ability to remain relevant and in high demand. "I don't know that Facebook needs to combat this. It is additive. I don't think Snapchat represents a threat to Facebook," says Lieb.

Seth Shafter, associate analyst at SNL Kagan, says there might be valid reasons to predict Facebook's demise, but its audience base and number of active users keeps growing without fail.<.p>

"People still seem pretty willing to juggle multiple accounts and services and apps, and aren't necessarily deleting their Facebook account to spend more time on Snapchat or Vine," Shafter adds.

Facebook's Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions certainly exemplify a growing comfort or willingness on its part to own and operate complementary properties that may not have to be fully integrated after all. If the first phase of social media was a massive effort to bundle our online identities, this current wave is all about the unbundling of those menus upon menus of features.

Twitter Carves Out a Role
"We live in a world where we know there are going to be multiple social services. It's not the case that one app or one use case wins over the other. Each one carves out a use case and tries to do that job better than anyone else," says Twitter CEO Dick Costolo on the company's latest earnings call. Users see Twitter as "the place to go for real-time, in the moment conversation and discovery," he says. "We're the only platform that's public, real-time, conversational and distributed."

Costolo tells investors he doesn't have "any particular religion about whether that means we need to land at one of the continuum or other on specific use case apps or not. I absolutely think that it could be the case that there are capabilities we want to integrate into the core service that we think could do better if they had an accompanying single-use app to go alongside them."

Costolo's point about there being multiple winners in this space is already shaking out well for companies like his, Facebook, LinkedIn and others. While controversy, drama, breaking news and second-screen interactivity may reign supreme on Twitter, social media users often turn elsewhere for validation on a more personal level. Where are you most likely to announce your coming nuptials or the arrival of a newborn? Facebook. Looking for a new job and seeking to expand your professional network? LinkedIn.


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