Is social media headed for a slump?

In making its annual predictions for the upcoming year, Gartner projected that a “perceived decay in the quality of social media platforms will drive 50% of consumers to abandon or significantly limit their interactions with social media by 2025.” With users experiencing significant frustrations with platforms like X – formerly Twitter – over the past year, this prediction doesn’t seem to be totally out of left field. 

In this issue of the Pulse, we take a look at the likelihood that social media is headed for a slump.  

Gartner’s predictions. 

Gartner conducted a survey of 263 consumers “between July and August of 2023 found 53% of consumers believe the current state of social media has decayed compared to either the prior year or to five years ago.” 

The top reasons cited for this perceived drop in quality include: 

  • Misinformation. 
  • Toxic user bases. 
  • Bot prevalence. 
  • Concern over the use of AI. 

Gartner predicts that user distrust over AI, specifically, will lead to a landscape in which brands will position themselves as different because of a lack of AI in their business and products.  

Social media has become too corporate. 

According to The New York Times, one of the big problems with social media right now, is that it‘s becoming less social.  

“The kinds of posts where people update friends and family about their lives have become harder to see over the years as the biggest sites have become increasingly ‘corporatized,’” explains lead consumer technology writer Brian X. Chen. “Instead of seeing messages and photos from friends and relatives about their holidays or fancy dinners, users of Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and Snapchat now often view professionalized content from brands, influencers and others that pay for placement.” 

For many users, who are simply looking to connect with like-minded individuals, this is a significant turn-off.  

Is social media dying? 

You’ll find no shortage of headlines proclaiming the end of social media’s reign – and it’s true that users’ time online is decreasing overall. However, this doesn’t mean social media is on its way out. Apps like WhatsApp and TikTok, for example, are more popular than ever. But the lack of trust and disillusionment with social media does mean the landscape is changing.  

Industry experts have noticed the following trends: 

  • Users are increasingly limiting their interactions to ‘close friends.’ 
  • Users are experiencing increased sales fatigue.  
  • More and more users are paying to go ad-free.  

Essentially, increasingly, the average social media is looking to fine-tune their interactions, and be sold to less.  

What does this mean for businesses and organizations? 

Many businesses and organizations rely on social media for digital marketing strategies. While this is by no means a signal to jump ship, it does mean that leadership should consider diversifying customer acquisition and retention methods.  

Keeping on top of consumer social media trends and complaints will go a long way in avoiding being a brand that alienates its online audience.  

In conclusion… 

Social media is changing. Or, it has changed, and consumers are responding, preferring a less corporate experience online. As brands continue to practice digital marketing, keeping this disillusionment with today’s social media landscape in mind will be critical for success.