The early adopters of social networks, Facebook specifically (because nobody remembers MySpace), initially discouraged normal people from joining the burgeoning social media. Those early adopters shared everything, I mean EVERYTHING, about their lives on social media; nothing was sacred and they took no prisoners.
They thought that they we’re imitating the classic artists such as Van Gogh, who in painting a fruity still-life, was supposedly sharing an image of his breakfast with the world. There is a subtle difference however because Van Gogh’s paintings may receive up to US$ 40 million at the drop of the hammer, but Facebookers have to pay for everyone to see their tea and toast.
Twitter offered users the headline style approach to self expression, but it was Instagram that truly changed the game. Rather than sharing a sad, mundane everyday life, its most ardent users saw themselves as superstars with their own dedicated media channel where they could broadcast their exciting lifestyle to the masses.
Today users can choose the type of content they consume because 37 percent of the world is active on social media, offering robust content variety. In Kenya we find that Pareto’s 80/20 rule is alive and kicking where 80 percent of the users consume content that 20 percent create or share.
Finding like minded individuals on social media has also become easier because each network seems to appeal to certain types of individuals. Facebook has maintained its reputation of attracting people who like to overshare, because after the breakfast image wielding users, came the grandmothers.
Indeed, if Facebook was a human being it would be woman representing the Baby Boomer Generation with all the values of a bygone era. She is considerate and nurturing because relationships matter most to her, and she believes that people have children only for the grandchildren that they produce.
Twitter would be an opinionated middle class Generation X male who seeks attention by being controversial. His words in 140 characters are stated as undeniable fact, cast in stone and needing no explanation — either you get it or you don’t. He values his ideas above all else and if one happens to irritate him with their myopic ideas he will be vicious in his reprimand.
Instagram would be a Millennial who wears far too much makeup, especially for those early morning salutations, and would be considered incredibly vain. When she’s not on one of those envious trips abroad, she spends the rest of her time taking selfies and reviewing her own time line to compare the thousand’s of pictures she’s taken of herself.
A teenager who wants live by his own terms embodies Snapchat, because he believes what he did yesterday does not have any bearing on how you view him today. No one can remember what he posted yesterday anyway because it was erased from his timeline after 24 hours. They can say and share whatever they want because those pesky parents and grandmothers are on Facebook, which they thus avoid like the plague.
Each social network has a distinct environment, tending to attract people with certain characteristics. If brands intend to drive engagement using content that is both appealing and shareable then their executives have to take a closer look at the nuances.