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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Is social media crashing?

30 July 2018

Facebook shares took a hit of almost 20% on news that the social media giant is suffering from slowing growth and revenue gains.

Twitter shares also dived about the same percentage after it was revealed that the number of users has fallen by a million in a single quarter.

YouTube is having problems in the wake of the adpocalypse and a massive reduction in the number of channels that now qualify for monetisation.

Snap's price has dropped from US$20.75 per share earlier this year to just $12.83 last week.

Is social media crashing?

Well it may not be crashing... but it's hardly doing very well right now.

Could it be that people are just getting burnt out from constantly being online and "in touch" on an almost 24/7 basis?

Or is it simply that the novelty has worn off?

Like most things, the use of social media is probably cyclic, swinging through highs and lows like a pendulum. It's starting to look as if we've passed a peak and are headed for a pretty deep trough right now.

Personally, I don't care much.

I'm not really a Facebook user and haven't browsed any of its pages for a couple of months at least. My $19 2G phone doesn't support Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter or any of the other "social media de jour" options so I wouldn't give a toss if these services simply disappeared overnight.

Of course as someone who makes a living from YouTube I would be more than a little worried if this social media player shut up shop but I think we're pretty sure that is not going to happen and, in a strange way, the recent changes have been a benefit to me.

Since YouTube demonetised millions of channels that didn't meet the minimum threshold for views and subscribers, my income has lifted (albeit only very slightly) due to the reduction in supply of ad-space within the YouTube ecosystem. I'm also pretty lucky that the subjects my channels cover are far from controversial or likely to result in me being chucked out.

However, I do wonder where all this is going. Are we going to see another dot-com bust, like we did in 2000?

With the stock prices of some premium online brands declining by a fifth in just one short week, will people cash-up (thus putting further pressure on prices) and move their money to "safer" options?

Of course there are still safe options within the dot-com industry. Google's parent company Alphabet is still reporting strong advertising sales and Amazon.com seems to be going from strength to strength.

I think what we're starting to see in the industry is a move away from social communications services (such as Facebook, Twitter, etc) to more traditional services such as e-tailing, advertising and entertainment content such as Netflix and such.

As the online world matures, the core products will almost certainly be an analog of what we have had in the real-world for decades: buying and selling stuff, watching movies and shows, listening to music.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram... yeah, they can be fun (I guess) but they don't deliver any real tangible benefits to those who use them... other than something to do with your time.

Of course these services will still be around (in one form or another) in another decade or so but I would not be surprised to find them no longer operating in a stand-alone form. Watch for the core-products to integrate such functionality into their own offerings.

But I may be completely wrong :-)

What do readers think? Have we reached "peak social media"?

Will Facebook, Twitter and similar social media services that really deliver nothing but interaction with others, still be around in a decade's time?

Who will be the *real* long-term winners on the internet landscape?

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