Must Social Media Channels Keep Changing?!

Look, I’m going to say what I think a few of us are probably thinking: why do we keep having to deal with so many bloody social media updates? In the same month that we wave goodbye to fleets (which I’m sure nobody will miss, TikTok toys with the ideas of adding stories to its platform. In less exciting news, Twitter has updated its font and changed the ‘follow’ button to black, but even this is unnecessarily confusing.

Am I a dinosaur for thinking if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?

Stick To What You Know, Guys

My colleague Beth recently wrote a great blog all about social media updates. Which ones are good, and which ones should stay in the drafts. I’d definitely recommend giving it a read. It opens up a wider debate about social media channels and their various changes throughout the years. Sure, we all need software and interface updates, but should the big platforms stick to what they do best and stop trying to copy each other?

TikTok stories, the update that absolutely nobody asked for

What’s prompted this post is TikTok stories, an idea copied from Instagram that actually, originally, can be credited to Snapchat. As Twitter tries and fails with Fleets, and Facebook only (in my opinion) continues with Facebook stories thanks to its partnership with Instagram, I can’t help thinking “what’s the point?”. TikTok has enjoyed phenomenal success over the last two years or so, helped in no small part by the various lockdowns that saw everyone using their smartphones a lot more.

Why potentially ruin that?

Here’s why I think social media channels should slow down on the changes, and focus on keeping their platforms running the way they always have:

  • There are many updates that users are crying out for (e.g. a Twitter edit button), I think platforms should be listening to their users and what they want, instead of copying other channels.
  • Platforms are popular because of their USPs. Instagram stories, to my mind, is the only exception. Otherwise, I think it’s best to stick to what you know and what you do well – that’s the reason users are signed up to those channels after all.
  • Though imitation is often said to be the best form of flattery, all this copying just creates a bigger rift between the platforms and forces them to compete.
  • Previous ventures have shown, that these changes just often aren’t successful. Think Twitter’s Fleets and Facebook stories (until they collaborated with one another), even Google+ – a wholly unsuccessful idea that once again proved that companies should stay doing what they do best.
  • Futile or unfavourable updates may even have the potential of ruining your platform all together, Yik Yak’s users plummeted when they removed the anonymity function from their app, and Snapchat lost a hell of a lot of supporters when it waved goodbye to ‘best friends’.
  • And a personal one at the end: it CONFUSES us social media marketers, all for working in a changing environment, but cut us a bit of slack guys!
In loving memory of all the ‘ups’ I got during my first few years at uni

A Little Change Never Hurt Anyone

What’s that saying, “don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great”. Maybe not being a forward thinker for the first time in my life, is actually me being dead wrong and maybe social media platforms should keep innovating? After all, if we didn’t embrace change every now again, we’d still be sending luv on Bebo and updating our Myspace page music every time a new banger entered the charts.

Plus, if social media channels did stick to their USP, then I guess we’d be without Instagram stories, which have undoubtably beaten Snapchat at their own game and are now, I’d say, more widely used.

From a UX perspective, yes changes do need to happen, and I’m glad I’m not using the same “Twitter for Blackberry” app that I was 10 years ago.

However, where my reservations lie is when platforms don’t innovate, but rather copy – and when the ideas have been done to death and proven to be unsuccessful on other platforms. Yes this is a direct reference to TikTok stories. Social media platforms are developed by some of the greatest minds of the modern day, and I’m always an advocate of new and exciting ideas. What’s less interesting, is when platforms try to change what works for them, in a bid to compete with other channels. It’s very well known that you can’t be the best at everything!

What do you think? Are you Team Yay or Team Nay for TikTok stories, and what are your thoughts on all these changes? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.

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