We can all agree that social media, and Facebook in particular, changed how most of us communicate and share information nowadays. Facebook started in the United States in 2004, and I was able to sign up with my personal profile in 2006 since I was attending university in the Netherlands. That means I have already been sharing info, photos and videos with family, friends, acquaintances and a wider audience for more than 12 years.
WhatsApp and Instagram versus Facebook
Back in the day, we used SMS to text friends about important matters, like if we were late for an appointment. Later, when SMS got cheap, young people used it for their daily communications. Then WhatsApp came along, which was totally a game changer. More and more people started sharing information in the comfort of one-on-one or in groups, instead of the more publicly accessible Facebook.
Facebook does allow a user to change the accessibility of a post but it is still perceived as public. I still share info and photos on Facebook that are ok to be seen by a wider audience. I share more family-oriented info or photos through WhatsApp instead. It also seems engagement is higher with WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a quicker, message-a-like medium while Facebook is posting of info, checking in, attending events and such. Facebook often feels like a flood of snack bite info, posts, photos, videos and commercial advertising.
Noteworthy is that Facebook bought WhatsApp and Instagram to cover a wider audience. Posting photos to Instagram works better than Facebook since Instagram users are more focused on engaging to photos than generally on Facebook. The key takeaway is that Instagram specialises in photos while Facebook tries to be everything to everyone.
Sharing becomes more niche
You are probably getting the general idea by now. We like to be on specialised platforms and apps with more dedicated users and therefore better engagement and specialised functions, as opposed to general platforms like Facebook.
I am known to be a wine connoisseur and a few years ago I came across the ‘wine-app’ Vivino. This mobile app allows you to take a photo of a wine label, and it automatically recognises the wine, vintage and winemaker as well as a rating based on users of Vivino. It then allows you to review the wine. It adds the wine to your overview and gives you an insight into what wine types you like. You can even add the wines to your virtual wine cellar. As with all social networks you can become friends and follow others and add friends from sources such as Facebook and Twitter. The premium version of the app advises you on what wines to buy and offers deals to buy wines.
Another app I recently started using is Untappd, which is the ‘beer-app’. It is similar to Vivino with the difference being that it is for beer and does not auto recognize the beer by photographing the label. This app has a game element through collecting badges once you check-in to a beer. This element makes it more interesting to keep using the app. It also allows in-app offers and discounts at venues.
In both networks, I have been sharing and talking with “strangers”. Why would I discuss a wine or beer with total strangers from across the world? It is probably simpler than expected! It is a one topic network where people are interested in the same topic. In the case of Vivino, it would be the same if I would be attending a wine tasting and shared my ideas with a person met for the first time, who was attending the same event.
For Christmas 2016, my wife bought me a Fitbit Flex 2. At first, I used the tracker and the app to just track my steps. Upon registering for the app, you can add your Facebook friends, so I added a few. Soon I discovered that you can challenge your friends into a showdown on steps per day, week or weekend. It is even possible to virtually walk a New York City Half marathon and a Yosemite trail. All of a sudden, the Fitbit app became more like a wellness network, especially since they added the community section. In this part, you can follow specific communities such as healthy eating, running, swimming etc. You can also share your results of activities and food or water intake.
Inspire to become more fit
In February I decided to run my first 10k run. I was using my Fitbit app to track and measure my progress to run the 10k. I had signed up for a race as a team of 4 and kept sharing my progress via the Fitbit app to Facebook and received likes and comments from my friends on Facebook. One of my team members shared his progress via the Strava-app. I never heard of it, so I decided to check it out. It is a social network for athletes to track and share your athletic results for running, cycling, swimming and such. I discovered that I could sync my Fitbit results with Strava. I added a few of my Facebook friends. Since I was running and my results were pushed to Strava, other people (I have never met) were giving me kudos to motivate me. Once I started joining groups I learned more about other running tracks available as well.
After you have finished a race you can see with whom else you have run that race since it recognizes the start time and GPS tracking. It allows you to follow them and make new running buddies. Again, I am chatting with people I have never met before and we give each other kudos to motivate each other.
Facebook will stick around for the coming years and serves its purpose as mass sharing and to build your personal profile. It is like the new mass communication channel; which used to be TV and radio.
My personal view is that personal info and photos will be shared via closed networks and people will engage more in nice (one topic) social networks such as the ones described above. I am looking forward to hearing your views…
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