A few weeks back I wrote a blog arguing, in essence, that Facebook's adroit shift to mobile and video in recent years has put the social platform on a clear path to dominate the digital marketing world. Ever one drawn to a dramatic and snappy headline, I titled the piece Facebook Uses Mobile Video to Take Over the World. Though syndicated to a handful of MarTech/blogger sites, for whatever reason the article got the most traction on Linkedin Pulse, where I received numerous comments both in support of, and against, my thesis.
Many of those in the push-back crowd put forward various iterations of the following general argument: because the massive global Millennial demographic seems to prefer alternative social networks like Snapchat to the aging Facebook, the latter platform is somehow doomed to irrelevancy.
Though to some extent I sympathize with this argument, I believe it's too early to tell whether it has any legs. Yes, Facebook's average user demographic is aging. However, this phenomenon may be nothing more than a sign of its mainstream appeal. And even if it turns out that Facebook has gone mainstream, many of the same Millennial-aged Snapchaters who are now poo-pooing the platform may one day find themselves turning to the social network as they come of age, settle into careers, and start having families (i.e. join the mainstream). Moreover, in a world fast going digital, maybe running a mainstream social media platform isn't such a bad thing.
Zuck Knows Social
I remember a few years back when Facebook was set to launch its IPO and CEO Zuckerberg made his fateful prediction that the future of Facebook was mobile. Despite the initially negative reaction by Wall Street to this bold pronouncement, he was, in the end, spot on. For my money, this gave Zuckerberg a bit of street cred. Fast forward to late 2014 when, speaking at a town hall event, he declared that Facebook is destined to become a social video platform, I tend to take him at his word. A spate of recent data (some of which I noted in my aforementioned post) would seem to bear out this notion.
In any event, add the two Zuckerberg predictions together and you get a social network built on mobile-optimized video content-which happens to closely align with the general direction today's consumers are taking digital technology, and with it, digital marketing.
Marketers Are Feelin' It Too
It looks like marketers got the memo on this last point, at least if you believe the data from a recent survey of 3,700 marketers put out by Social Media Examiner in its 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.
For starters, virtually all (92%) survey respondents confirmed that "social media is important to my business." That said, Facebook took the day as the most commonly used social platform for marketers, with a 93% adoption rate (Twitter came in at second with 79%, LinkedIn third with 71%). This dominant number jumped even higher (95%) for those with five or more years of social media marketing experience, and higher still (99%) for those committing large amounts of weekly time to social media marketing.
Most interesting to me, Facebook remains the dominant social platform for both B2B (88%) and B2C (96%)-focused marketers. I expected the B2B number to be lower given the consumer-leaning nature of the Facebook site. Perhaps this reflects the utterly dominant (and by extension, mainstream) role Facebook plays for marketers. Not surprisingly, when marketers participating in the study were asked to select the single most important social platform for their business, Facebook won out by a large margin: more than half of them (52%) chose Facebook, followed by LinkedIn (21%), Twitter (12%), and YouTube (4%).
You may be wondering what role, if any, age played in the survey's findings. Although roughly two-thirds (65%) were in the 40+ age demographic believed to be pro-Facebook by inclination, over one-third (35%) of respondents fell in the Millennial (20-30) or Millennial-cusper (30-39) age range believed to be more positively disposed toward less-mainstream social channels like Snapchat.
Demographic-related grousing aside, when the rubber hits the road it seems marketers young and old can all agree on Facebook.
As the digital space continues to mature into the new consumer normal, mainstream companies will emerge, you can bet on that. In the US where I live we already see this happening, with many of us turning to Google for search and Amazon for online ordering on a daily or near-daily basis.
So what's the bottom line? As technologies like search, mobile, and social media become ever more deeply woven into the fabric of our daily lives, mainstream players will come forth to dominate their respective subsystems of the nascent global digital ecosystem. It is into such a world that Facebook finds itself going mainstream which, just maybe, isn't such a bad place to be after all.
Main image via rvlsoft / Shutterstock