Same Content, Evolving Channels

Earlier in the month I attended a Q&A with Facebook CMO Gary Briggs. In the hour he shared gourmet donuts and touched upon the evolution of products now offered by the social media parent. As he spoke briefly about Whatsapp, Oculus Rift, Facebook Free Internet in India, and Carousel Ads my mind got drawn back to the Facebook of 2007.

When I first joined Facebook in 2007 the then Homepage was a jumble of updates of everything and nothing. I am cringing as I think of how the old homepage was filled with statuses about what one was doing at the moment in time, conversations via wall-to-walls, large photo albums filled with poor quality images, videos of fun-at-the-time moments, and Notes with quizzical lists. In a way it is astonishing at how new platforms and social media behaviours have arisen in the last 9 years. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and FB Messenger and other messaging apps are now all channels where we share the moments that were once displayed on the Facebook homepage.

In a way, for a time period, Facebook status updates were replaced by Tweets. But today, Twitter is a platform with more media consumers than content providers. Over time this platform has evolved from being the site of 140 character micro-blogging to being a source for news, real-time events and conversations.

The mass of photos that were once uploaded to Facebook now often live on other platforms. We’ve learnt to curate our photos for Instagram. Even within Instagram I’ve noticed shifts in user trend – diminished are the days of mass food shots, selfies, and multiple event photos. IG has become the place for inspirational shots that display our lives in all the glamour and perfection that can be mustered.

The fun silly shots of the every day that once used to live on Facebook (or even IG) now belong to Snapchat. The disappearing photos and videos have become a platform for us to express ourselves more freely and in-tune with the moment. The power behind this platform is that with the disappearing shots we feel at ease to share more than just the perfect moments, additionally, with Snapchat we are more inclined to share more than just one moment from an event. Once upon a time I would have shared two or more photos from one night on IG but today we are intent on sharing the perfect moment from the night on IG, turning to Snaps for the rest of the night.

That is not to say Facebook no longer plays a role in sharing the photo content. Looking at my Newsfeed, the best of the best that is posted on IG and Snapchat often gets rerouted back to FB for the mass reach. There is obviously a battle between the social platforms in getting us to chose to share our content on a particular one (ie. Facebook has launched live video, Twitter is parent to Periscope, combatting Snapchat in a sense) but I find different platforms do play off each other. How many times have you Snapped someone a picture of something on your FB Newsfeed? I did this earlier today.

What I find the most amazing about all of this is that there are no explicit rules written anywhere that state we should use a particular platform for a particular piece of content. Instead, we’ve all been able to pick up on the fellow user trends to create and post content that fits the channels. I am quite sure no memo was ever sent in regards to how one should Snapchat yet we all somehow know Snaps are meant to be vertical.

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