Facebook has the most users around the world, but is it really the social media brand leader? In recent years, Facebook has rolled out a number of features that make the brand seem like a market follower, not a market leader. Instead, Twitter seems to be the social media brand that competitors want to emulate.
Facebook’s “follower” behavior brought Twitter features like @mentions and hashtags to the biggest social network, and now, Facebook has launched trending topics—another well-known Twitter feature. Facebook isn’t the only social media brand emulating Twitter. Last week, Tumblr rolled out @mentions, too.
Of course, these features are becoming more generic as more social media sites add them to their platforms. Adding a + sign before a Google+ user’s name to mention them in a post and including an @mention with an Instagram post (owned by Facebook) are just two more examples of Twitter features going mainstream.
As social media becomes more mature, we’re seeing more copying and less innovation. It’s a normal cycle, and until one of the current players in the marketplace launches a new feature that shakes up the industry (or a new player enters the market with something truly innovative), we’re likely to continue seeing this type of copying and improving (with the actual usefulness of the improvements up for debate and fairly subjective) among the leading brands.
Today, Twitter seems to be positioned as the market leader from an “under the hood” perspective. However, it’s not the market leader based on market share. In the long term, which will be more important? If you look at a brand growth story like Google’s history, the “under the hood” perspective is the one that matters, but tackling a Facebook audience of 1 billion people is a tough hill to climb.
In technology, innovation is the key to survival, and copying is a strategy that will end up failing in time. Which social media brand will be the leader a year from now? Two years from now? Five years from now? Or will there be a completely new group of social media brand leaders before the decade is over?
If recent trends continue, the social media industry is wide open for a new market leader.
Image: Jason Howie
Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more.
She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.