The Rise and Fall of Social Media

The Rise and Fall of Social Media:


Which social platforms are trending and which are in decline?

If future historians want to channel Edward Gibbon and write a history on the decline and fall of social media, they would have a first act of astronomical rise but may never complete the story.

Social media has become a cornerstone of the 21st Century, representing so much of our current epoch and future years. Yet who is using social media and which platforms are hot and which are not is in a constant state of flux. Let’s review case by case.


Facebook was once the 800-pound gorilla of social media, with 2.2 billion monthly users; a number seemingly unaffected by even a major data breach scandal. Facebook’s ownership of WhatsApp and Instagram, with 1.5 billion and 1 billion monthly users respectively, mean the company is a juggernaut. But Facebook as a platform itself may be in trouble. It is now widely regarded that Facebook’s userbase peaked in 2015, and since then the demographics have changed as younger users flee the site and the over 55s take their place. In 2017, the network captured 79% of all people aged 12 to 34. In 2019 that figure is closer to 62%.

It may well also be the case the brand itself has an image problem. Facebook’s role in the 2016 US Election and Cambridge Analytica scandal have dented the company’s reputation. It is increasingly seen as stale and uncool platform; with teenagers and millennials getting bored. A combination of parents joining, adverts taking over news feeds and fatigue after nearly a decade on the platform is causing teenagers to leave. However, many are leaving to Instagram and Snapchat, showing that Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Instagram in 2012 may have been a bargain. And revenues are up, with the over 55s market having much more disposable income than the millennial crowd. Clearly, monetising personal data is the business to be in.


Currently the most fragile social platform is Twitter and investigating its user growth is very revealing. Mainly because the growth has been so slow compared to its competitors, as a result, Twitter is now rumoured to be in long term decline. In 2015 Twitter gained 34 million users, in the same period Instagram has added more than 400 million and Facebook 800 million. In 2019 its active user count stands at 330 million per month.

Twitter’s userbase has for several quarters been in decline, though according to a report in the Verge in February 2019 Twitter claims the platform itself has been purging users and has stated it will no longer report user losses. Its role in the social media landscape is ambiguous. Is it now just a news source filled with trolls and can it break out of this stagnation? Unless Twitter changes it may have reached its capacity and when the limit is reached it’s only downhill from there. It has to be said it is still the best place to find a quality comedic view of our societal events. Sadly it is also the main soapbox for many of the worst humans in modern history.


“At its most basic, Instagram is a social networking app which allows its users to share pictures and videos with their friends. The app can be downloaded for free from the usual app stores and takes pride of place on many a young person’s (and older!) smartphone.”

Though its user numbers have not yet caught up with Facebook, Instagram is the rising star of social media night now with 1 billion users every month. Photos and videos are seen as the future of social media Instagram is in prime position. The huge number of celebrities posting their own photos is a central reason for Instagram’s growth, this personal content is rare on Facebook and Twitter, making it a unique selling point of Instagram. Due to its visual nature, Instagram has high rates of customer engagement making it a value platform for marketing. It may also be solely responsible for the global rise in narcissism.


“Snapchat is a mobile messaging application used to share photos, videos, text, and drawings. It’s free to download the app and free to send messages using it. It has become hugely popular in a very short space of time, especially with young people. There is one feature that makes Snapchat different from other forms of texting and photo sharing: the messages disappear from the recipient’s phone after a few seconds.”

With 210 million active daily users and 3.5 billion snaps sent daily, Snapchat is a firm favourite of the young demographic with 90% of all 13-24 year olds and 75% of 13-24 year olds in the US using the video and photo sharing app, and despite the famously fickle brand loyalty of this demographic it shows no signs of disappearing from the scene anytime soon.


“TikTok (formerly known as is a social media platform for creating, sharing and discovering short music videos, think Karaoke for the digital age. The app was used by young people as an outlet to express themselves through singing, dancing, comedy, and lip-syncing. The app is now called TikTok, complete with a new logo, has all of the same features as and allows users to create videos recorded in 15 seconds or less and share them across a community.”

Long seen as the runt of the litter, Chinese owned TikTok has had a meteoric rise on the social scene with its format of short videos, mostly comedy skits and song covers in the style of the now defunct Vine. As of 2019 TikTok has 500 million active users, ahead of better-known sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat. With a strong audience in Asian countries such as Cambodia, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand TikTok has hit the half a billion user mark in half the time as Instagram.


The professional platform is a smaller affair than Instagram and Facebook, but with 303 million monthly active users many of whom are CEOs, professionals and purchasing decision makers it is an important platform for marketers to consider.


Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the most well-known and interesting social platforms in 2019. But the significant number of users on WhatsApp, YouTube and emergent platforms like Telegram show how diverse and fragmented the social landscape has become.

Thanks to for their succinct descriptions of the social media platforms described in quotes above.


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