Social networks are dead: people have been replaced by content

Prior to logging in, Facebook promises that it “helps you connect and stay in touch with the people in your life.”

If this was probably true many years ago, today the reality is different: social networks are dead. Or at least, they are in the sense of platforms designed to create connections between people; And Instead, there are more and more platforms for entertainment content.

The goal is no longer to relate people to each other, but to offer engaging content to people. In intent, social networks like Instagram are closer to Netflix than their initial mission.

A satellite monitored the resumption of CO2 emissions at the end of the pandemic. The video is terrifying

Go to the deepening

TikTok changed everything

Not everything happened overnight, although the changes were there for all to see: the concentration of attention on “likes”, which created a competition that was increasingly pushed towards virality; the creation of pages and profiles designed to obtain large volumes of traffic, trying to exploit the functioning of Facebook, transforming people into measurable metrics. And the higher numbers have won over the lower numbers, gradually shaping the shape and substance of social networks.

A transformation that was then accelerated by the advent of TikTok. TikTok never wanted to be a social network: ample space for video, an entire “For you” section dedicated to discovering new content to watch, but not new people to interact with.

TikTok never wanted to be a social network, but always a platform for entertainment. In doing so, he attracted so much attention to himself, especially from younger people, that in the end he also dragged the two main social networks in the world behind him: Instagram first and Facebook later.

Since the advent of Reel on Instagram, short videos of sixty seconds maximum that have taken the format popularized by TikTok (which now allows you to upload videos up to ten minutes long), the social network has changed its face. And for a simple reason: that kind of content it increased user engagement more than friends’ photos.

The change of course was made evident when Adam Mosseri, CEO of Instagram, said that Instagram was no longer “photo sharing app or square photo app“, in July of last year.

Nothing that surprised those who frequented the social network; but a public declaration of intent is still an important change of pace: the future was a mosaic made up of videos, Reels and contents recommended also by people who are not part of the circle of “friends”.

Then Facebook followed. The most recent update of the application has split the feeds in two: on the one hand, in the main tab, the contents recommended by the algorithm, with lots of Stories and Reel highlighted at the top of the screen; on the other hand, in a separate tab, a chronological feed for updates shared by friends, pages or groups.

Content creators have “killed” social networks

A change that means one thing: Facebook is a hydra without a recognizable identity anymore; and the photos and videos shared with friends are old history.

Meta, which controls Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, needs to involve people and not make them connect; she needs more time on her online platforms. If that means changing course – moving from a social network to an entertainment platform – so be it.

Social networks have created new figures: influencers and content creators. People, that is, who every day publish content designed to interact with people. The best are able to aggregate a large group of followers; others try.

In both cases, the two figures metaphorically killed the platform that formed them, forcing it to change.

Content creators – “friends” or not doesn’t make a difference anymore – have become even more central precisely because they create entertaining content that engages people by making them spend more time in the application. For this to be possible, the Facebook and Instagram algorithm had to become something else. Does not recommend posts from friends, but anyone’s content.

Despite the convoluted events, even Elon Musk’s vision for the future Twitter goes in the direction of a platform closer to WeChat, an all-encompassing Chinese application with which to do practically everything, and TikTok, than to a traditional social network. Another demonstration of how social networks are no longer attractive today.

Meanwhile, Twitter has introduced its own audio rooms – Spaces – and now aims to integrate newsletter-like note formats directly into the platform (after acquiring the Revue newsletter service in January 2021).

Social networks are dead, killed by the creatures they created themselves: algorithms and influencers.

Now space for content. Come on, gentlemen. Come on.