Reports Media & Marketing

Social media reboot The rise of social 2.0 and the emancipation of the digital native

Report by Hanna Kahlert
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The 20,000 Foot View: Social media is entering a new phase of innovation. Facebook’s trio of applications, alongside Snapchat, Twitter and other incumbents, still have market dominance. However, the rapid growth of TikTok, Discord and Clubhouse since the coronavirus-prompted lockdowns, alongside a migration to digital-first life, are early indicators of demand for – and adoption of – social platforms that lend themselves to lean-in entertainment behaviours. The result is a decoupling of social from the defining metric of engagement for its own sake.

Key insights

  • The success of social media originally hinged on its ability to translate pre-existing human social needs and communication methods into new forms of digital behaviour
  • The various incumbent social apps have saturated their original use cases and begun to overlap in features – and, hence, are now beginning to compete with one another
  • As a result, the incumbent apps have all begun ticking upwards in mainstream adoption, thus losing their prominence among younger users
  • Innovation has stagnated, and the market is ripe for fresh competitors to move in on the opportunity to provide distinct, novel communication experiences
  • Over lockdown, the digital-first push has upped the hyper-social aspects of entertainment media and heightened a need case for more distinct features and active participation
  • The common ground between the new disruptive platforms is a greater focus on becoming basic creator tools, enabling users to generate their own content, and act as utilities for user creations such as community-centric sharing and public discovery
  • An acceleration into digital-first lifestyles and activities heightens the need to bring the important aspects of ‘in real life’ (IRL) social behaviours into the digital world 
  • Social media is now more demarcated by social function (public discovery versus personal catch-up; lean-in versus lean-back) than it is by content type
  • As consumers become more creative in their digital social lives, the opportunity for creator tools to evolve and become social networks themselves centred around a creative activity is rapidly increasing
  • The attention economy is saturated, leaving little room for any insurgent to scale – but it is also at risk of fragmenting, allowing many smaller, standalone propositions to now each successfully hold their niches

Companies and brands mentioned in this report:        AOL, Clubhouse, Discord, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Fleets, Instagram, Myspace, Reddit, Reels, Signal, Snapchat, Spaces, TikTok, Tumblr, Twitch, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube

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