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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.

Social Media and Deep Thoughts Don't Mix
Social media isn't always cause for celebration or dismay, of course. By its very nature, there will always be expectations unfulfilled. Even the most personal updates may not render the validation expected by users who opened their heart or cried into their beer while sharing their thoughts or latest achievements.

"There's no way to make something more personal than putting yourself in the story," says David Berkowitz, CMO at New York-based agency MRY. But because the social conversation is happening more instantaneously, people who share their inner-most thoughts in longer formats shouldn't expect many people to read or engage.

"The real-time dimension is not to be sneezed at," says Lieb. Despite these changes that favor the fleeting moment, Berkowitz argues that users are putting far more effort into building their profile and outward appearance than ever before.

Social Media: No One Knows Why
"This is something that people are manicuring, even optimizing on a daily basis," Berkowitz says. "Now people have options that they just didn't have before ... this is such a work in progress" in which billions of people are effectively learning by doing. "Most people, if they're really pressed to it, probably don't know why they're really doing this in one place or another," says Berkowitz.

"There's really nothing sacred right now, so it's possible that anything we think of as permanent and enduring, may or may not be able to make that leap and stay relevant," he says. "There's always been this push and pull of how much of this water cooler effect people want" with social media.

While Facebook and Twitter have grown from consumer-facing sites that now also deliver key business and marketing tools for brands, their younger counterparts are still leaving those options on the table. Some brands have begun experimenting on Snapchat, but there's no indication that it will move beyond the trial-and-error phase soon.

The company's executives have hinted that future revenue may come in the form of in-app purchases and some form of native advertising, but nothing has been announced yet. These apps are all determined to focus on growth for the foreseeable future, but if they follow the trends they could just as quickly become tools for marketing as well.

Social media gives users the tools to create customized media and entertainment, but ratings for major live events on television have never been higher. In today's world and tomorrow's, social apps "all have to figure out what itch they scratch," Berkowitz says.

Whether that's keeping things extremely private, anonymous and fleeting, or a combination of all three, the growing popularity and efficacy of spontaneous social apps is well underway.

"There's room for several players in this space," says Berkowitz. "But nowhere near how many players are in the space right now."


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